Dance icon Paul Taylor joins forces with Burnley venue to host lockdown 'safe raves'
A special collaboration between house legend Paul Taylor and a Burnley venue will see dance revellers treated to virtual raves while on lockdown.
Retro Live Sessions is an upcoming live broadcast, accessed via subscription, that will feature local and international artists playing classic house tracks for at-home audiences.
Hosted by Paul, it will be streamed weekly from grass roots music venue and community art hub The Gallery at Creative Arts Burnley, with the first show airing this Saturday from 7pm.
"I've been through three recessions in my DJing life, even the 'death of disco' in 1979. I've been through horrendous downturns, but this caps the lot," said Paul.
"DJs started doing live streams at the beginning of the pandemic and I was watching them carefully. There were some good, some bad, some horrendous.
"But what I was struggling to understand was that this was happening during the peak. It didn't seem inappropriate to me, with all those people dying. It didn't seem right. We do need music, but music should be shared, it should be happy.
"I had hundreds of people asking me to do it. I made a few excuses, and waited.
"I don't really know how it came around to be honest. I'd been to Nat and Cain's venue recently to host a DJ workshop and I knew they were getting frustrated with the current situation. I gave them a ring to see if they wanted to get together, and if it's allowed, look at doing something"
The revolutionary online platform – www.home-rave.com – was created by Retro collaborator Danny Bond as a place where artists can stream their shows in a secure and stable environment, allowing fans to watch and connect with friends from their homes.
The site is designed to be sustainable long past the pandemic and offers a much needed lifeline to artists and brands in the entertainment industry during this catastrophic period.
Retro Live Sessions will give people the opportunity to get up close and personal with their favourite DJs, interact with friends, ask questions and gain the kind of insight not normally possible in a club setting.
The service will launch at £4.99 a month for the first 1,000 subscribers. It will be £5.99 a month after this, with members able to opt out at any point. The subscription fee will cover the relevant PRS licences needed to play music legally, and will ensure artists are paid properly for their work.
"In the coming weeks I'm going to be arranging interviews with the likes of Graeme Park," said Paul. "It's literally going to be like Retro TV. It's incredible really. We're going to be reaching thousands of people, across the globe, from Burnley town centre.
"People are going to be able to send in messages and every hour we're going to have a five-minute shout-out slot. People are going to be tuning in from all over the world. We've already reached 40,000 people with our initial announcement.
"The subscription, which is the price of two pints a month, is going to cover so much. There's going to be another 30 DJs across the platform. And these shows shows can be replayed 24/7, so you can enjoy your Retro fix whenever. All the sets are going to be saved and will be stored as a catalogue.
"Once we have this all capped off, we can then hopefully look at having people down at the venue – maybe with a 30% capacity – once it's safe. This would sell-out every week and would be an incredible experience.
"In a funny sort of way this could be the saviour of dance music. It's a scary time at the minute for this industry, but it could be wonderful at the same time."
The Gallery at Creative Arts Burnley, which is based in lower St James' Street, has built up a strong reputation in the town since opening last year.
The venue has been leading the way in the arts scene with support from Burnley Council, providing a platform for new and upcoming artists to showcase their talent, nurturing the local community and supporting town centre trade.
Natalie George, who runs the Gallery with her partner Cain, said hosting Retro was a dream come true.
"I've been following Retro for 20 years," she said. "This is a dream come true. This lockdown has made a lot of people reassess everything, and it may offer smaller venues the chance to flourish.
"If there is a staggered reopening, and only 20/30 people are allowed back in bars at first, then we could maybe have that amount in while the show is being streamed out. It's really exciting.
"Paul approached us because he didn't want to be doing this in a bedroom. He wanted some quality behind it. We have been down every day ensuring the venue is ready.
"There are lots of people doing live shows at the minute but we want this to be of the highest quality. And it will be."
Retro Live Sessions has received approval from Burnley Council to operate our project under strict guidelines.
"The council has been incredible," added Natalie. "We have a great relationship with them and they have been so supportive in ensuring this goes ahead. Hopefully, we get a lot of subscribers now. "