“Good Times isn’t just a night, it is an experience because it manifests itself in so many different ways with many different musical styles coming together under the auspices of the night,” says the affable veteran. “It essentially does what it says on the tin.”
Too many big name DJs are happy to plough the same old furrow, never daring to step outside their own genre in case the crowds disappear. But Jay’s fans go along, revelling in the fact they have no idea what he will play.
“I’m not quite A to Z in my love of music, but I am pretty eclectic. I’ve been in, or had an interest, in most of the British youth cults down the years and the soundtracks that they enjoy which stretches from the 60s, Northern Soul, funk, the Mod scene, disco. I was there at the beginning of Acid Jazz, Acid House and I loved drum and bass, reggae, ska. In my sets, if the crowd allows me to, I can be as populist as necessary or as anal, but somewhere inbetween the two is the truth.”
Spurs nut Jay is as London cockney as you can get, but his visits to Manchester over the years have shown him where the two cities share a unique music sensibility.
“I was a familiar face at the Ritz at the jazz funk and Northern all-dayers from the late 70s on,” he says. “I was the second London DJ to be invited to play at the Hacienda after Paul Oakenfold playing alongside Mike Pickering and Laurent Garnier which was fantastic so I have always had a close affiliation with Manchester. I’ve played many uni gigs, bar gigs, Band on The Wall, and now I’m really enjoying a renaissance playing in the Northern Quarter and loving it.
“The two cities share a lot as far as club culture is concerned. Mainstream club culture has always flourished in both cities as well as sub scenes below the radar which has always been brilliant. Underground scenes and clubs can only flourish if the mainstream flourishes as it keeps away all the dickheads.”
Jay’s commitment to bringing people of different cultures together to have fun at weekends saw him visiting Buckingham Palace to receive an MBE from the Queen for services to music. This makes him pretty special, especially considering his background in playing at illegal warehouse parties in the 1980s.
“I’m not aware of any others and it doesn’t come bigger or better as I consider myself a patriot,” reflects Jay. “It was fantastic, but the Queen has met far worse criminals that me. All I was trying do was make people’s lives a bit better at the weekend so it was weird and totally unexpected, but it’s a badge of recognition I wear with extreme pride.”
So what does Norman Jay MBE hope people will take away from the night as they stagger away from Good Times?
“Great soundtrack, great night out with mates, family, and just the feel-good factor. Even better if you stagger out and can’t even remember it.”
By Paul Clarke
What: Good Times
Where: 2022NQ, Dale Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester
When: October 19, 2013
More info: www.2022nq.co.uk