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Gideön: Co-founder of Glastonbury’s first queer nightclub NYC Downlow on making it in dance music

In partnership with Pioneer DJ.

By Will Stroude

Words: Thomas Stichbury; Image: Martin Perry

The maestro behind the innovative NYC Downlow, Gideön also brought the British festival scene its first permanent queer space at Glastonbury back in 2007.

A DJ who has torn up dancefloors around the world, Gideön knows how to serve a fierce tune, and will be doing just that when he appears at Deptford Queer Soundsystem Day at Shipwrights House, London on Sunday 29 May.

Which track are you loving right now?

I currently have a forthcoming single of mine on repeat. It’s called Storytime and it’s coming out soon. As some of you may know, there is a stupidly long wait for vinyl pressing at the moment because of Covid and Brexit bullshit, so you might have to wait a little while to hear it.

Which song introduced you to dance music?

I was obsessed with pirate radio when I was a young teenager. Before I got my first set of decks, I would make compilation tapes with my best friend, Mel. We would spend whole nights by the radio with blank cassettes lined up, poised to press the ‘record’ button when we heard a tune that we liked or one with a promising intro. This armed me with a snippet to get a track ID from. Then I would take my pocket-money to Black Market Records in Soho or Swag, or Big Apple Records in Croydon and play them the track from my beloved Sony Walkman. Logic’s ‘The Warning’ on Strictly Rhythm out of NYC in 1990 was one such discovery.

Which dance record changed your life?

‘Let No Man Put Asunder’ by First Choice. There was an old hardcore track from the early ’90s that sampled this classic disco number. I searched for many years to find a copy of it and when I did it was at a rare collectors’ stall at a record fair. I paid £150 for it, which was a lot of money in the mid-’90s. That broke the seal and I’ve been chasing rarities like a true vinyl junkie ever since.

What is the secret weapon in your DJ catalogue?

It’s a secret. Shazam won’t even touch the sides.

What is the go-to club to DJ at for the energy?

Adonis in London is incredible. It’s definitely the best party in London for many years. It’s grungy underground queer realness with no apologies. It’s wild, untamed and sweaty. I’m a resident there and I am also co-booker with Shay Malt, the founder. Also ∄ (the club with no name) in Ukraine was wild before the Russian invasion. ∄ is a mathematical symbol which means ‘does not exist’; it’s a vast queer institution in Kyiv that I played at a few a few times just before the war. It’s insane in there and ranks up there with Berghain. Its crushing whats happening there now. Panorama Bar in Berlin is still where the perpetual DJ in me wants to play. It’s been consistently amazing for years now and I can’t wait for it to open again in October.

Which club has the most impressive sound system in the world?

The Noise Control Audio sound system in The NYC Downlow, because it’s designed and built in the old-school way: big, fat, floorstanding black box cabinets. A real sound system designed and built by people who have devoted their lives to the perfect rig.

What was your greatest gig ever?

Aged 14, DJing to 50,000 people in Trafalgar Square at the Criminal Justice Bill demonstrations [in 1994]. That politically infused rioty energy at the height of the rave and free party explosion in the UK was something I will never get over.

Who would be your dream person to DJ with?

Ron Hardy.

Which up-and-coming or underrated DJ should we look out for?

Louis Redley AKA Mr Redley is a rude boy selector. Nat Wendell in Berlin is great, too. Sedef Adasi is pretty well-established in Germany, but less well known here. She’s amazingly talented.

What do you play on at home?

Technics 1210s and Pioneer CDJ200 MKII.

What advice would you give to any budding DJs right now?

Quietly listen, research and dig deep to develop a unique sound before pushing to DJ in public. If you want to be a touring DJ and play clubs, you need to sound like you, and you alone. If all your music was found using Shazam or purchased from Beatport then, chances are, you will sound like a million other DJs.

What’s your starting point when you are creating new music?

I have been keeping a list of track notes over the past 20 years. I studied music at university and I got into the habit of doing it then. My iPhone notes has a very long list on it of track ideas. So, my starting point is always that list.

Gideön plays Deptford Queer Soundsystem Day at Shipwrights House, London on Sunday 29 May 12-6pm.  Find out more about NYC Downlow at