Where did it all begin?

John Moores University final year Students , Charlene McDaid, Damo Jones and Will Jameson were somewhat disillusioned with the state of affairs in Liverpool’s club scene. Fed up with Satan’s sound system, fed up with meathead bouncers, fed up with silly bar prices, fed up with flat atmospheres and overrated dj`s playing some latest fad nobody was into. They found the Lemon Lounge on Berry Street, and then home to prolific underground prog housers Alderaan. Small yet perfectly formed, the “room above the pub” as it has since become known in the national press, was perfect for what they wanted. In March 2000 it was born, with Steve Wandless (Wandy), local house head and fellow student provided the soundtrack and what followed can only be described as an unruly and riotous house party devoid of all the trappings of other clubs. Low door tax, sensible security, no dress code and more importantly a distinct shift in focus to the music and the crowd.



And that was it. Chibuku* was born. Named after a vile yet potent African beer that Will had discovered on his travels, sour tasting yet a staple for the working class of Malawi. The name stuck, confused many and enthralled few. Within a matter of a few months Chibuku* had become the singularly most anticipated night in Liverpool. Gracing the Lemon Lounge once a month and promoting themselves through word of mouth and a few photocopied flyers, Chibuku* was different. For those that attended the early parties such was the buzz and excitement that there was a feeling they were reinventing the wheel. Other parties came and went but few touched the blistering atmosphere and diverse crowds that crammed into the lemon lounge. Wandy met Luke Carr, a fellow student and up and coming DJ. Luke and Wandy soon started Dj`ing together back to back at Chibuku*. The mixture of Wandy`s party tracks and Luke’s deeper sophisticated house sound formed the soundtrack which propelled Chibuku* forward. Nowhere else was playing real house music without the pretence. Nowhere else was having after parties that lasted all weekend.



Out of the crowd, Will, Charlene and Damo met Richard Mc Ginnis. A young student with previous experience promoting nights in Ireland, Liverpool and Ibiza. Fresh from a season promoting Cream @ Amnesia, Richard joined forces with the Chibuku crew for the first birthday party. In the week Daft Punk released its much-anticipated Discovery Album, DJ Falcon from the same Roule stable took to the decks at the Sound Factory. Chibuku* had unleashed another night of general abandon. It still felt different. It felt young, fresh and new. Chibuku* continued towards the summer, hosting joint parties with Alderaan and LIPA deep housers Lymelyte, all the while gathering like minded souls and recognition from local clubs. Richard returned to Ibiza for a second season with Cream, not before securing the services of Yousef –man of the moment-Zaher and Back-to-basics resident Paul Woolford under their 10,000bc production guise for what was to be their UK debut performance. Needless to say it was off the Richter scale. The Chibuku* massive graduated from University, went their separate ways and the night was plunged into some uncertainty.

More uncertainty followed as Richard’s time with Cream came to an unexpected end after various disagreements. Undaunted in the face of controversy, Will and Richard resolved to take Chibuku* on over the summer period and step it up a gear. Put the pressure on and put the effort in. The team had formed: With Wills unbounded energy to succeed, Damo`s literary flair, Charlene’s level head and Richards musical direction, they had their mix. The aim? To provide the complete antithesis of everything clubbing had become in Liverpool, overpriced, dangerous, cheesy and soulless.


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First things first

Chibuku* and Alderaan put their thinking caps on and noticed that the world famous dance festival Creamfields would be bringing 40,000 clubbers on to their doorstep. Using the law of averages they deduced that some of them would want to carry on after. The now notorious Chibuku* afterparty was born and the Masque venue on Seel Street hosted 400 punters in the crammed downstairs bar from 6am till. …well nobody really remembers what time it finished. It is safe to say that the scenes that occurred when the bar reopened for alcohol at 11.00 where unprecedented. James Zabielia , Sasha`s protégé turned up and blew the place away. People started to talk.



September 15th saw Glaswegian house legend DJ Q from filter records welcomed to the Lemon Lounge. His 24/7 album and various remixes had provided the background squelch to so many of Luke and Richards nights. He was the perfect choice. He was a purveyor of fine underground house music. A lot of the Chibuku* massive where uninitiated but were more than willing to listen. The question was had Chibuku* lost their way? Had their crowd left town? In the end up The Lemon Lounge was rammed and DJ Q rocked the place with a barrage or relentless electro-disco killers that set the scene for things to come. The Glaswegians that had travelled down for the party compared the vibe to the early days @ the Sub-Club in Glasgow, the seminal deep house club where Dominic Cappello and Harri reside. Quite a compliment really.


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The Masque

At this point Chibuku* realised that in order to survive they had to make some money to pay the mounting phone bills and promotion costs. They had to move quicker and smarter. Will negotiated with Jap-rock celebrity and local face Dave Pitchilingi to let Chibuku* have parties at the Masque Venue on Seel street. Without realising it Chibuku* had gone fortnightly. Still rocking the Lemon Lounge at the start of the month and then the bigger Masque venue on the 3rd Saturday of the month. It felt right. But not quite. It didnt feel right until they unleashed a spate of winter bookings which they have since admitted involved more luck and coincidence than skill. Now it felt right.



Miles Hollway of off-centre Mancunian house label Paper recordings played, (also of Hard Times and Hacienda fame) and received a full house. The staffs of the Masque were caught off guard. Miles was the perfect example of the slightly more eclectic style the Chibuku* parties were taking at the Masque.

November the 8th 2001, the bomb dropped when Radio One and Talkin loud supremo Gilles Peterson took to the decks alongside his producer Benji B and ex Galliano lead singer (Rob), MC Earl Zinger. Local trip-jazz outfit the DNA Orchestra provided alternative beats and Luke Carr had his first opportunity to play a real eclectic set to a suitable audience, twisting up Lionrock classics, Joey Negro Z factor disco cuts along side underground MAW grooves and beats. It was the summation of a lot of hard work. It has since been called the complete manifestation of everything they loved musically.

`We had proved that clubbing didn’t have to be strictly 4/4, that eclectic could work in a modern Liverpool clubbing environment, that there were people who loved dancing and music as much as we did, that things didn’t have to be about lycra and kebabs, that something diverse and without barriers of musical prejudice could thrive free from the preconceptions that the few controlled the lot in Liverpool`.



Peterson destroyed the Masque with the typical worldwide sound, afrobeat, nu-jazz, house, disco, Brazilian, garage and drum and bass all made an appearance and nobody flinched. The aftermath of the Peterson gig was a sense of recognition in Liverpool. Back to work and the next gig up was Alan Simms, legendary promoter and resident DJ of Belfast`s Shine club. Alan had cut his teeth alongside David Holmes in Belfast`s gritty techno and house scene and had met Richard through mutual friend Yousef , cementing their friendship during trips to Ibiza. Chibuku* had sub-consciously been using Shine as a template. Simms could put on rap sensation Tim Westwood in one room and a techno beast such as Oliver Ho in the other room and make it work. Although Chibuku* never wanted to visit these extremes, they found themselves attracted to the idea of complete diversity based on quality.

Simms played a tougher sound than Chibuku* was used to, a complete departure from the acid jazz of GP, but it was an acid test of the crowd. They loved it. The Chibuku* crew felt vindicated that is really was “all good” and there was a future for the club in one form or another. December saw the cream of Europe’s house producers Austin Tanney from Slide recordings, rip up the Lemon Lounge and on the 15th
December Nottingham deep house sound system veterans the Inland Knights took Chibuku* deeper than they had been with a real minimal set of funky house and breaks.

Ministry magazine made Chibuku* the No 1 recommended night in the North of England on NYE 2001/2, which contributed to Alderaan & Chibuku turning away 1300 people before they had even opened the door… they braced themselves for another evening of madness. Other clubs in town had struggled to meet half their usual numbers that NYE. The tide was changing…



A 12.00 lock out on Feb 2nd Phat Phil Cooper held his last UK appearance and played an eclectic mix of classic and upfront house…leading a rapturous crowd to what can only be described as the brink of explosion. Tough tribal beats and great vocal hooks had the sweat dripping from the roof and the crowd singing their hearts out.
“Only 2 clubs have inspired me to keep playing – Basics and Chibuku*, its still feels like 1988 in there” – Phat Phil Cooper
2002 sees the Masque parties double in size. One room for house and one room for whatever takes their fancy. Sets already confirmed to include Grand Central Records parties with Only Child, Riton and Martin Brew from like-minded Mancunians, “Friends and Family”. Paper records “Robodisco” will be bringing Miles Hollway back with partner in crime Elliot Eastwick. The birthday sees a very rare UK appearance Jacques Lu Cont of Les Rythmes Digitales fame, World Scratch Champions the Scratch Perverts alongside Krafty Cuts, Ralph Lawson from Back to Basics, Andy Carroll from Jamiroquai / Manumission and an array of residents. For the rest of the year expect Tom Middleton, Mr Scruff and some more very high profile producers and DJs from LA to Ibiza…It will be nothing short of a complete disgrace.


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Celebrating

Celebrating its third year in March 2003, Chibuku has risen rapidly to become one of the best club nights in the United Kingdom. Even more amazing is when you know it was started by four student friends with £40 and named after a porridge like Malawian beer.

Now Chibuku is coming to garner national accolades left, right and centre, from countless number one features and plaudits to being nominated as the Best Small Club of the year in the Muzik Magazine Awards 2002, right through to guest mixes on Radio One and many national and international DJs heralding the atmosphere, venue and crowd as the best they have ever played in!

Chibuku is set for another meteoric year having already called upon talents from across the board, including (in no particular order) Groove Armada, Marshall Jefferson, Carl Craig, DJ Pierre, DJ Falcon, Yousef, Mr. Scruff, Jacques Lu Cont, The Herbaliser, Tom Middleton, Rooty, The Scratch Perverts, Adam Freeland, UNKLE, LTJ Bukem, Pedro Winter and many, many more who have all rocked (in their own special ways) Chibuku, Liverpool and clubbing in general, as well as relying on a solid base of residents including rising stars The Beat Monkeys, Dom Chung, Leo Belchetz and Wandy.



It’s the simple Chibuku good times philosophy that has helped to put Liverpool clubbing back on the map, bringing the underground party vibe through to an essentially starved clubland that needed something special to create the spark that had for some time been lost. Chibuku was born from wanting to put on good parties for cool people, and since the night’s inception at the intimate Lemon Lounge it has gone on to establish and consolidate an unprecedented level of success.
Careful and measured DJ choice combined with the hard work of the promoters and all involved means that Chibuku now thrives and continues to grow and evolve, and the measured expansion is seeing link-ups with other club nights around the country and beyond that hold similar values and many are heralding this as the most important year so far for the club.



Will, Charlene, Rich and Damo continue to provide the ultimate house party: and long may it continue!

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