Look at that crazy photo. John and me at Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam. Posing for a story that was never written let alone published. This story was. In my book Nachtboek. About the first time John played in Holland.
I hear A. is starting to tell the story I once wrote about Digweed, who had died. I had a parakeet named Digweed, and one day it fell off its stick. Parakeets don't have eternal life either.
I've interviewed some great artists. Prince, John Travolta, Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Bryan Ferry, Grace Jones. Rarely have I been really nervous. I always pushed myself through an emerging attack of hyperventilation. But that afternoon at Schiphol I light one cigarette with the other. A man tells me not to smoke here.
"I don't smoke,” I say. "I only keep a pack of cigarettes burning."
Aircraft HV 604 has just landed. What will I do when I see him? That is, if he sees me. I feel like I have shrunk considerably today.
The last time I thought I had shortened was when I went to the dressing rooms of the Jaap Edenhal in Amsterdam to find James Brown and asked a woman who was under a hair dryer if she had info for me: “Miss, do you know where James Brown is?” To which the person turned and I looked into the bewildered eyes of the renowned soul singer.
Sucked into a black hole
There is a reason I feel small today. I'm waiting for the man who turned my life around some four years ago. In 1994 I heard the fourth CD from the “Journeys Through Deejays” series, the 'silken mix by John Digweed.' Important events are so close to you that you can often remember all kinds of moments, even down to fleeting details.
To this day, when I think about that moment, I can smell the scent of the perfume I was wearing that day. Vetiver from Guerlain. I remember driving to Zandvoort in the car and the first mix passing by. At least: that's what the player indicated. I didn't hear it myself. When I arrived at my destination, I felt that I had traveled through space at the speed of light. I had been sucked into a black hole and when I came back to Earth, I turned out to be reborn. Initially, this was accompanied by some discomfort. After all, I became an adolescent teenager again. But the end result was there. John Digweed made sure that for the first time in my life I felt like I belonged somewhere. Thanks to him I found a current that kept me afloat. Without a lifebuoy.
All passengers have passed. Would Diggers have missed the plane? I can picture it: John, who has just returned from Israel, falls asleep on a bench, while his record cases make circles on the treadmill.
Imagine that just at that moment DJ Jean, arriving from Ibiza, happens to walk past band 9. Will he take them? Does the pope shit in the woods? Of course he takes them! A disaster for humanity.
Thank goodness. There are three record cases, pushed somewhat lazily by a young man with glasses, an unnecessary attribute. His eyes are past midnight, while it is only four in the afternoon.
Ice cubes are falling from the sky. That's good, because in the changing room of the Galgenwaard socker Stadium in Utrecht, both the whiskey and the mood are rather lukewarm. Nick Muir from Bedrock, Nick Warren from Way Out West, Justin Robertson from Lionrock and John Digweed get rid of the dramatic rebound by telling inside stories to each other. The Premier League dance festival is ruined by the worst weather imaginable.
In the meantime I have picked friend A. from Rotterdam and his lovely girlfriend A. from the cold, wet grandstand to kill some time here. Anything better than to be a part of this never-intended, sad happening. If the team gathered here went into the field, it would win the World Cup, I swear. A. on goal, Robertson in the center of defense, Muir on the right, Warren as the left half, me as the right half, Digweed as the playmaker and girlfriend A. as the entire vanguard. She already has the world cups.
At six o'clock the final signal to "pack up and go" is given. Hailstones the size of baseballs are now falling from the sky. My heart is crying. I think about the phone call a few weeks earlier.
"Is it safe if I play there in Utrecht?" John asked.
I didn't have to think for three seconds and said "yes". I can't help it that the festival was canceled due to weather conditions, but I still feel guilty towards John.
At the same time, I am glad that on a whim I called Eelco Anceaux of Chemistry to ask if John could play in Amsterdam after Utrecht. I don't think I would survive if the three record cases in the trunk of my car returned to England untouched.
The question remains: what are we doing in the meantime? John has to be in the Escape by 1am, it is now 6.30am. There is only one person who could offer a solution.
I am in the kitchen of our apartment in the heart of the big city called Amsterdam. And I get in the way. “Go to your guests,” my girlfriend and girlfriend A. say to me. "You have been so looking forward to this."
I tell myself to pour a drink, but I just don't with what. I can't believe this is all really happening.
On my couch are friend A., Nick Warren, Nick Muir and Alana from Cream Agency. John is in a chair, my chair. They are eating. Looks like it tastes. When we drove from Utrecht to Amsterdam, my girlfriend went to get some groceries. She has made five Indonesian dishes, one more elaborate than the other. I am dumbfounded. Be honest: which woman does that? Which woman sacrifices her quiet study evening to receive the whole bunch of night-time Mongols at home and then also cook extensively for them? My girlfriend. My girlfriend who is currently pushing me into the living room and tells me to sit with my lead guest.
I hear A. is starting to tell the story I once wrote about John Digweed, who had passed away. I had a parakeet named John Digweed, and one day it fell off its stick. Parakeets don't have eternal life either.
I shoot into the living room and quickly start a dick story about the weather. In this country you can always talk about the weather. Thank goodness A. shuts up.
I sit next to John and ask him if the article that was in the MixMag is true. It's true. Without batting an eyelid, he begins to tell the story that he had to play in Lush, in Northern Ireland, and that he was so drunk that he scrambled on top of the DJ table and then plunged into the audience.
“Just before I jumped, everyone ran to the exit in shock,” he says with a laugh. “I had hoped they would take me in, but there were no more than three people left. When the audience shuffled back in, I did it again. ”
I just proudly told everyone that afternoon that our man doesn't smoke nor use drugs and now he's pulling this on me.
In the meantime it has become midnight. Time for a walk. To the Escape.
The King of Dance Music
Thirteen hours later, Nick Muir, John and I are lazily pecking a salad at the Replay Café. “I was pretty nervous,” my hero confesses and I'm shocked. A John Digweed can't be nervous. He mixes records while reading the newspaper and solving a crossword puzzle. Not so. That nervousness was not necessary for anything. At a quarter past one, Digweed took over from Marcello. I had the honor to announce it. In a skipping, slightly hysterical voice I said:
“First time in Holland. The King Of Dance Music. John DIGWEED! ”
It sounded like I was putting all my heart and soul into it.
For nearly four hours, until five, Digweed gripped the dance floor. Nick Warren visibly enjoyed it too. He danced around my girlfriend while shuffling. Then he came to me and said:
“She is a better dancer than a cook. And she is a terrific cook! ”
And John went on and on. When Marcello played the last record at five o'clock and put John in the spotlight by taking his hand and showing him to the audience as Rocky, I saw Diggers was visibly struggling with that.
I was reminded of what John had once said in an interview: “People don't come to see me waving my hands in the air, they come to listen to the music ”.
At two o'clock in the afternoon we drive back to Schiphol. With three record boxes in the trunk. During the car ride I really let my heart speak for the first time this weekend. I tell the story that I heard Digweed's “JDJ” CD in the car on the way to Zandvoort and what happened to me afterwards.
John barely responds.
Then he says: "Nice car."