As a music fan in my mid-twenties, a lot is all too easy to forget. Although House music and the club scene has been a formative part of pop culture for nearly all of my life, the scene is young enough that there are veteran DJs, label-heads and party organisers out there who have been with it from its inception to the present day. Simon Dunmore is all three, with a three-decade career as a DJ, the sixteen-year-old Defected Records, and multiple successful fixtures in Ibiza and around the globe under his belt. His current night, Glitterbox, celebrated its first summer residency at the legendary Ibiza venue Space this summer, to widespread critical acclaim. Ahead of Glitterbox’s upcoming night at Ministry of Sound on December 12, Notion Magazine talked with Simon about some of his summer highlights, the ideology behind Glitterbox, and his aspirations as a DJ.
As a long-time fixture of the Ibiza scene, I asked Simon how much he felt the scene had changed over the years.“The VIP nature of Ibiza often cannot be avoided,” he says, and I’m surprised by his honesty. “But I believe it’s now negatively affecting the music scene on the island. Ibiza needs to be mindful to avoid becoming a destination exclusively designed for the rich and famous. That’s not the Ibiza I and many others know and love.” Nevertheless, he remains optimistic, as in his own words: “clubbers have always found a way to make it work.”During the summer, the island and Glitterbox, in particular, played host to many great sets but also of moments of absurdity: “Watching Louie Vege spontaneously jam with Barbara Tucker was something I’ll never forget” he tells me, with Basement Jaxx’s set being another highlight of the season’s performers. “They understood the music policy of Glitterbox perfectly and played a true Balearic set. It’s not often you’ll hear an acoustic version of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ at Space, but they went there, and it absolutely worked.”
Curious about how he goes about curating such a rich roster of DJs (besides himself, the upcoming London date will feature Norman Jay MBE, The 2 Bears and Ron Basejam, amongst others), we got into a discussion about what being a good DJ means to him in 2015. “The first thing I look for is the ability to read a crowd. At the end of the day, it’s the dancefloor that decides whether your party was a success.” He also asserted his admiration for experienced DJs, and his avoidance of those who have built their following off the back of one hit record. “Too many DJs these days seem to play for their mates who hang out behind the decks with them, playing what they perceive to be cool and completely ignoring the people on the dancefloor. That’s not what a DJ is in my book.”
What are the central values of a Glitterbox party? It turns out it’s all very simple in Simon’s own words: “a great Glitterbox party is defined by the people that attend having the time of their lives, aided by a DJ capable of taking them on a musical journey.” Nevertheless, he did elaborate on some of the less orthodox aspects of his club night, and in particular on the role of performance and his desire to create memorable moments. “Sometimes, it might be the DJ dropping a record you’ve always loved but never heard in a club environment, a live performance from a legend of the scene or a dance routine that come just at the right moment to make everyone go crazy.”Finally, I asked him to divulge every DJ’s biggest secret: what is his go-to record to energise a dance floor? I’m almost certain he never plans his sets in advance, but he did name Loretta Holloway’s ‘Dreamin’ as a personal favourite. “It’s a record that sums up what Glitterbox is all about,” he says. “It’s soulful, catchy and uplifting, so it gets a fair amount of spins.”
Words by James Corran. Follow him on Twitter.