Staying true to your values is something that is consistently put to the test in today’s day and age. In order to stay current you have to keep evolving, but throughout that, maintaining a set of values is a real challenge. A DJ, promoter and music journalist for nearly her entire adult life, it is perhaps Jane Fitz’s ability to keep her integrity throughout it all that has seen her maintain such an enduring ‘underground’ interaction with the scene – ‘I’ve always bought records; it’s just [always been] there. People say, “When did you start DJing?” if you’re the person with records at your mates party when your 13, does that make you a DJ?’
Jane’s experiences on the other side of the world were some of the most formative and laid the foundations for her place in the underground scene. “I moved to Hong Kong when I was 23…after two years working for Music News-Asia, developing relationships with people from and based in Asia I had kind of thought it would be good to move there. At the time I also had a few contacts at Music Week, who actually ended up offering me the job in Hong Kong first, so that’s when I made the move.” She goes on to add that the timing of her move East proved to be rather ideal. “I’d kind of missed the early Rave scene [in Britain] but by the time I got to Hong Kong it was the right sort of time and you almost had a second-coming of Acid House, semi-exported through ex-pats that eventually caught on and became nurtured by a local scene. By ’97 the scene was established locally as well; Lee Burridge and a guy called Christian were DJing at bars in Wan Chai, at Big Apple and later, Neptune’s. That was the first time the city had an after-hours scene and where everyone came together, from bankers to the Triad and anyone who wanted to stay out and party.”
This community atmosphere permeated culture and language barriers and has certainly informed much of what Jane promotes in her party ethos. “It was the best time really at that point too as you didn’t need a visa to go there and you’d find a lot of travellers would stop in Hong Kong to earn a bit of money before moving on; that meant there was a real good community of British people – ex-pats combined with those coming through – that would be mixed in [with a diverse crowd of locals].” It is not surprising that a great deal of the scene in Asia, specifically Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia in the mid-90’s was focused on Trance; where community atmosphere is in abundance due to its roots and influences rotating so strongly around nature, connectivity and a tight-knit scene. Being fully immersed in the community may have helped but it was equally as crucial that at a pivotal moment there were more people were willing to be a part of it and throw themselves into trying new things, forming stronger bonds as a result.
Jane’s approach to playing music is the antithesis of the jaded touring DJ – “I don’t want to play records I know really well… hearing a classic time and again doesn’t make me love it any more” – and what sets her apart, as someone who lets the music do the talking. “I want to try and create something fresh every time I play; I want to keep myself interested as well as the crowd. Rather than me guiding the music I let the music guide me.” There is a lot to be said for someone who is constantly on the lookout for new musical inspiration whilst maintaining the core values of community spirit; which is perhaps what gives Night Moves (the party run by her and Jade Seatle ) its famously welcoming atmosphere. Having run Peg (her own night) for 10 years up until 2009, the party was put to rest to leave a lasting memory of something good and to avoid being “just another warehouse party.” “Night Moves came out of our friendship and not having a place that we both felt we could go out to – basically to avoid the idiots. We had a constitution for this party; everyone has to pay – it’s got to be as democratic as possible and we’re not going to do too many because we don’t want to be high profile. The beautiful thing about the party is that people come down from all over the country…it’s a party with your mates, but some of them you might not know yet.” This is something that might sound alien to many revellers at the moment, but is an integral part of dance music culture and one which was very much alive in the beginning. That feeling of being safe on the dance floor, that all you needed to know about your neighbor was their appreciation of the music and a reciprocation of their friendly attitude, that’s become something rare – to be hoped for, not something to expect.
Its refreshing to talk to Jane about music and her parties; when the room fills with an overwhelming sense of connection and enthusiasm. An awful lot of the onus for the absence of this feeling in a lot of parties these days comes down to the authorities making it incredibly difficult to obtain licenses. This view has been expressed a great deal recently following an increasing resistance by local councils and communities in areas where TENS Licenses had enabled parties to continue in interesting spaces, but that are now becoming scarce. Certainly from a comprehensive aspect there are a handful of clubs that have established themselves as important parts of today’s dance music culture and even fewer long-running parties that have a strong, dedicated following. From Jane’s viewpoint there was a barren period in the early to mid-2000’s where “people weren’t going to clubs, they were going to gigs and listening to Nu-Rave or some other NME made up stuff”, although as participants in the scene grow older and mature things appear to be improving.
Weighing up the where clubbing has taken us Jane observes that, “there are very few clubs left that are really decent in London…people say that clubs killed the free-party and warehouse scene but what it did was make people feel safe and that’s important.” With a hint of sadness in her voice she adds, “clubbing in London is a mess right now…there are hardly any venues left. The community thing, going to the same place regularly, is lost.” Perhaps though, over time and through the dedication of people like Jane and parties like Night Moves, there could just be a shift in the way people appreciate night life and the values that made it so fun in the first place.
Jane Fitz plays Corsica Studios for Just Jack, alongside Delano Smith and Point G, this Friday, 28th November. Buy tickets here.