Bank on a good time at Mo­funk

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

THE 151st Mo­funk party takes place at The Bank in Queen Vic­to­ria Street tonight, and that is an im­pres­sive achieve­ment in the Cape Town club scene. These hugely pop­u­lar events have been hap­pen­ing since 1998 so I had a few ques­tions for founder Mr Mo.

Eigh­teen years and 151 events is quite some­thing. To what to you at­tribute the longevity and suc­cess of Mo­funk?

To keep it fresh, one has to spread out the events, so it’s some­thing you want to go to as it does not hap­pen very of­ten. Sec­ondly, the venue has to be right, it needs cer­tain panache. I think we have achieved that with The Bank. It’s a huge venue with so much his­tory, and ex­udes so­phis­ti­ca­tion.

We also change the DJ line-up with some­one fresh so we get a new take on the disco, funk and soul that is played.

As the founder, how did it all be­gin for you?

It all be­gan with a con­ver­sa­tion at 169 On Long with the owner Peter Marks in 1998. He is orig­i­nally from Am­s­ter­dam and he was rem­i­nisc­ing about the disco and funk par­ties that he at­tended. He asked me to do the event, and as I was an avid funk and disco fan, I jumped at the chance of host­ing it. The first one was called An Evening of Mo­town and Funk, and I think we had about 28 peo­ple there . The event took off and later we had over 3 000 peo­ple in one night. The rest, as they say, is his­tory.

What are some of your favourite Mo­funk high­lights?

Def­i­nitely the ones at the orig­i­nal 169 On Long. It felt like a fam­ily af­fair. The par­ties also con­tin­ued un­til past 6am some­times, and those were the ones that go down in his­tory.

Other high­lights in­clude Mo­funk in Dubai at the At­lantis Ho­tel on the beach. We had 6 000 peo­ple los­ing their minds un­der the Ara­bian night sky.

How has Mo­funk evolved over the years?

In the be­gin­ning we went large on dé­cor and themes only to re­alise that when pa­trons hit the disco in­ferno, they are hav­ing so much fun that they miss it com­pletely. Venues have played a big role as well; it is para­mount to the look and feel of Mo­funk.

What will this one be like com­pared to the early years? At the be­gin­ning we only played on vinyl, be­cause the DJ tech­nol­ogy had not come about yet. It’s only when the CDJs ap­peared in 2000 that we started us­ing the first CDJ100 with vinyl. When this hap­pened, it was eas­ier to get remixes of any­thing you wanted.

In the ear­lier years pa­trons used to dress up more to a disco theme, but now they are a lit­tle more ca­sual, which is great be­cause these peo­ple come to dance, and en­joy the gen­eral vibe. It’s quite a mixed crowd of peo­ple from all walks of life, which is the point of Mo­funk – to bring peo­ple to­gether.

The mu­sic we play pro­motes that ethos. It’s mu­sic to dance to, it’s mu­sic to sing to, it’s the sound­track to what has been be­fore and the sound­track to what’s to come.

What do you bring to the event as a DJ, and what do you love about Mo­funk?

I can read the crowd fairly eas­ily after DJing for 18 years. The odd thing is, I be­came a DJ just in case one of the DJs did not make it, or was late or sick. The in­ter­est­ing thing is funk as a genre. It’s the mu­sic that was the fore­run­ner of disco, and funk also in­flu­enced hip hop on a mas­sive scale. The roots of dance are in funk. What I love is that you get to ex­pose those roots, even though they’re al­most 50 years old. It’s in­ter­est­ing when you can play the orig­i­nal and ev­ery­body thinks you are play­ing the lat­est hit sin­gle, but then lis­ten to the orig­i­nal and put two and two to­gether. Mo­funk for me em­bod­ies the his­tory of dance cul­ture through the years.”

Since its in­cep­tion Mo­funk has drawn more than 730 000 pun­ters to par­ties in Cape Town, Jo­han­nes­burg and Dur­ban. It pays homage to the orig­i­nal artists that shaped what mu­sic is to­day – Marvin Gaye, Ste­vie Won­der, Michael Jack­son, The Spin­ners, The Whis­pers, Diana Ross, Teddy Pen­der­grass and James Brown.

Tonight’s ros­ter in­cludes opener Benny Wong, Nick Birkby – the orig­i­nal stick shift DJ who made venues like The Mag­net such land­marks in this city’s mu­si­cal his­tory, and dance floor-filler The Boo­gie­man. Com­plet­ing the cir­cle is Mr Mo him­self, the founder of the Mo­funk brand.The venue is one of the last grand Art Deco build­ings in South Africa. A space once oc­cu­pied by tellers, it has a 160m2 hall with a domed ceil­ing, arched win­dows, solid teak doors, wood pan­elling, and white stucco plas­tered walls – a suit­ably im­pres­sive place for this mo­men­tous oc­ca­sion.

151st Mo­funk is from 10pm till 3am at The Bank, 54 Queen Vic­to­ria Road, Cape Town. Cover charge is R100.

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