It has been 53 weeks since DJ and Manc music icon Clint Boon last performed to the swaying masses inside a sweat-soaked nightclub, but he hasn’t missed a beat in lockdown when it comes to entertaining his Boon Army.
When the nation went into the first full lockdown in March 2020, Clint took the opportunity to start his own Friday night online rave Disco Rescue, so named after the legendary nights he first started back at South nightclub in the city over 20 years ago.
It became so busy on that very first night trying to run the virtual gig at home in Stockport, that Clint roped in wife Charlie to help manage all the song requests flooding in on Twitter – and she swiftly became a Friday night staple at the event too.
The husband and wife team have just celebrated a full year of the Disco Rescue events – with around 1,000 devotees joining them each week for their regular mix of banter, ‘100 per cent requests’ and a playlist that can be as diverse as Showaddywaddy to the Stone Roses.
Regulars hail the show their “lockdown lifeline”, offering a glimmer of hope and something to look forward to each week.
Now, as restaurants and bars prepare to gradually reopen from Monday, April 12, Clint and Charlie are reflecting on how to take forward the event. There is talk of a live event at some point, while keeping the online event going for as long as the fans want it.
Inspiral Carpets star Clint, 61, lives in Stockport with Charlie, 39, with children Oscar, 16, Hector, 14, and Cassius, 10, and a veritable menagerie of nine animals including three rabbits, a lizard, hamster and a dog.
Clint says: “From week one of lockdown, I thought I’d launch a DJ set live stream, thinking it could just be to replace my gigs at South nightclub for a short period of time.
“When I first started at South 21 years ago it was called Disco Rescue, so I thought this could be the new South, two hours of me playing records that was the idea.
“But when the first night came about I went down to my studio at home to do the disco, Charlie wasn’t meant to be a part of it, but it just went so mad I roped her in to help.”
Charlie recalls: “I was really tired that night and Clint said ‘come down to say hello’. I could see Clint was struggling to keep up with all the requests coming through – there were 100s. So I started writing them all down.”
Clint adds: “It ended up becoming a bit of a chat show. It’s still 100 per cent requests and the music is so diverse – music I’ve never even heard of sometimes. It’s really quite unique with us chatting between every record.”
Charlie laughs: “I mean it’s mundane stuff – it could be about who empties the bins, but people really relate to it.
“Some people have been there every Friday night since we started. People have their disco lights ready, they get dressed up for it, they even start chatting together online in the build up on the day. It’s so lovely to see how people have become friends through this.”
As luck would have it, Clint had been involved with the launch of the Beatstream live music streaming app, which had been planned to launch at the big Blossoms gig at Manchester Arena in March. When lockdown effectively cancelled all live music events, the app was still ready as the perfect conduit to launch Clint’s live DJ nights.
Clint says: “Because Beatstream was the only live music streaming app connected to a paywall, we had unwittingly created this vehicle that was perfect for that moment in time with lockdown. It’s not a vast amount of money to attend, it’s £3 a week, but it has been something to replace some of my DJ gigs that were all lost in lockdown.
“We didn’t do it as a way of making money, we realised we created something phenomenal and unique that had some real value in making a community. People are saying it’s the highlight of their week.”
XS Manchester afternoon presenter Clint says that Disco Rescue has been a huge positive to come out of lockdown – which had started for the Boons like for so many families with worries about finances and the future.
Clint says: “All of my live DJ work got taken away obviously when we went into lockdown, and at the time XS Manchester was under threat of closing or changing completely. It was a big shock to me, the prospect of losing all of my income really.
“But because the radio station got saved, and as a family cutting back like a lot of families have had to do, meant we had enough money to survive on.”
Clint has had his first vaccine, and will hopefully have had his second jab by the time the current roadmap out of lockdown states nightclubs can reopen from June 21.
He says: “I’ve been told South will be reopening in June and I’m looking forward to getting back then.”
Although he admits to a little trepidation about the “new normal” as a DJ used to such high levels of interaction with the dedicated Boon Army.
He says: “It’s gone from being a DJ being the best job in the world to actually being one of the most hazardous in a world where there’s a virus.
“The kind of job I have there isn’t another job where you have as much physical contact with people at every event – hugs, handshakes, fist bumps, singing in your face, people shouting requests down your ear. It’s a unique job in that respect.
“If I hadn’t been vaccinated I wouldn’t be going back into that environment. I should have had two jabs by June, and I’m confident we will get out of it but I’m definitely going to change the pace that I was working at, I’ve already been turning gigs down to try and make my working week a little bit easier than what it was. “
He laughs: “And hopefully I can still do it without being jumped on by sweaty blokes.”
Clint Boon’s Disco Rescue streams live every Friday night at 8pm, via https://www.beatstreamboxoffice.com/