with The Pheasant
In 1988 I was 9 years old. Maggie Thatcher was still at the helm in the UK. The Lockerbie bombing shocked us all and Derrick May released "Nude Photo", signalling the birth of techno and a new movement in youth culture: dance music.
Around this time a young (ish) Dublin DJ named Greg Dowling arrived in Cork. Bemused by the innocent young Corkonians skankin' it away harmlessly to their Reggae, Greg decided to start up a night on Thursday nights in Reds, playing some of the emerging electronic music. It soon shifted residence to Sir Henrys on South Main St. Greg was joined about a year later by Shane Johnson, and they continued the club in the same venue until Saturday the 3rd of November 2001, its 13th birthday.
To say that Saturday nights at Sweat meant a lot to its few hundred regulars would be understating the matter somewhat. Sweat was to many of us quite a huge part of our young lives. Queuing up religiously at 11.30, and when you got in, hearing that deep, soulful kick drum blasting away at 120 bpm; I find it hard not to get a teensy bit emotional reminiscing over the whole routine. Dubby basslines, dirty shoes, jazz chords, soaring vocals, the stage, funky congas, Fender Rhodes, facing the DJ box like an altar, the muck, the darkness, and of course the sweat. As it has ended so has a very real Cork institution. The Cork music scene owes a huge debt to Sweat. The unwavering solidity of Greg and Shane in pushing the deep house music sound that they believed in forward has rubbed off on many other Cork DJ's and bands. People didn't go to Sweat, as some people may have you believe, just to take drugs. People went there for the music and the atmosphere it created. If they did not we would have a hardhouse or trance club instead. I can often remember standing in the middle of the dancefloor, the crowd cheering as a Saxophone came in, or singing along to the melody of some obscure one-sided white label, and saying to myself that there was nowhere else like this on the planet. I've heard great musicians, great DJ's, great records, and still I always come back to Greg and Shane; be it on the radio or in the club. In my bedroom my house records sit proudly alongside my John Coltrane and Curtis Mayfield collection. No greater compliment could be paid to the music and influence of Sweat. I could start to guess on reasons for the club's demise, and I am sure many of you have already heard them, but I will just finish by saying thanks. Thanks to Greg and Shane for some of the best nights of my life.
Here for you to disagree with, are my all time favourite Sweat tunes. (No, THAT tune is not in there.)
10. Sueno Latino: Sueno Latino (Derrick May remix)
9. Raw instinct: De la Bass (Mousse T remix)
8. Fresh 'N' Low: No Going back
7. Bobby Konders: The Poem
6. Glenn Underground: GU's 70's trip
5. Lil' Louie Vega and Mark Anthony: Ride on the Rhythm
4. The Fifth Edition: The Roadtrip
3. Deep Dish and Prana: The Dream
2. The Beloved: Deliver Me (Salt City's Robodisco Dub)
1. Robert Owens: I'll Be Your Friend (Morales Def Instrumental)
It has been rumoured for years that Bob Marley lived in Cork...and possibly still does. Only that can explain the manic devotion to the reggae superstar on Leeside...
This time last year Cork were Munster champions going into the All-Ireland semi-final on a high. It didn't end well. The Rebels have added some steel that should help avoid another semi drubbing but is it enough to beat a tough Limerick outfit?