It was the namesake of a generation’s worth of dance music, and the cornerstone of Fatboy Slim’s mainstream-busting, Christopher Walken dancing, “Rockafella Skank-ing,” late-’90s breakthrough.
Now, the Big Beat Boutique — the nightclub party that signaled the arrival of Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, and birthed the “big beat” movement — is back, in its grandest form: The Big Beach Bootique, a giant outdoor event in Cook’s native Brighton, U.K., now open to revelers worldwide through a partnership with CinemaLive. The show, which took place June 1-2 at Brighton’s brand new Amex Stadium, will be screened at hundreds of movie houses around the globe for one night only on August 31.
The Big Beach Bootique hit Brighton four times before (in 2001, 2002, 2007, and 2008), each on the actual beachfront in the seaside town: The 2002 edition drew a record crowd of 250,000. “Living in Brighton I can’t walk down the street without someone saying, ‘You need to do another party on the beach,’ literally every single day,” says Cook. “I was aware of the demand, and remember [the events] with fondness, but we had kind of run out of favor with the police and some of the residents. It really cripples the town. They hadn’t said I couldn’t do another, but they made it so difficult logistically.”
But being an active member of the Brighton community, Cook had a solution. Brighton & Hove Albion, the local football (Americans, that’s soccer) team of which the DJ/producer is a part owner, had been homeless for 15 years. Cook was actively lobbying for a stadium, “marching petitions down to Downing Street,” he says. When Amex Stadium was finally built, Big Beach’s new, non-beach location seemed obvious.
“It was such a momentous event for me, being a football fan and celebrating that. It was fitting it wasn’t on the beach – it was something beautiful and different,” he says. “It was a no-brainer to do it, and hence a no-brainer to film it.”
The concert film features Cook and his trademark behind-the-decks buoyancy and hard-working DJ style, full of quick cuts, loops, knob twerks and unexpected combinations. Also shown is a full roster of his buddies, like Carl Cox, Luciano, and Maya Jane Coles, playing for a crowd of over 36,000 (across the two nights); and what Cook calls “the biggest show I’ve ever put on, production-wise. If you look back at Big Beach 2, there was an awful lot of crowd and not very much show. Although I’m not a setlist DJ — I play a different set every night — technology has now allowed us to sync visuals and lasers and trigger video files, to whatever it is I’m doing.”
While Cook just reappeared on the U.S. scene last year, in the wake of “EDM’s” rise, he says he — and dance music — have always been there.
“I never actually went away; I just wasn’t getting so many gigs in America,” he says. “I’ve been carrying on and building, in places like Brazil, Japan, Australia. [Dance music] is always kicking off somewhere around the world, gradually growing expectations of what a DJ can do. But when it’s not in the charts and on the radio, we just go back underground; the whole scene still exists.”
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