Sunday 18th September 2011. 20 Years Of House. All distilled into one precious night. And what a night it was.
Old friends, the club's founders, many of the legendary DJs who have helped to shape the club and its music policy over the years, current residents, staff both past and present and many music industry faces all came together to mark the making of dance music history as Ministry of Sound celebrated our 20th Birthday.
Right from the very start of the night the scene was set for a heady return to the halcyon days of Ministry's early days. The vibe from start to finish was electric, with a crowd that was solely dedicated to having a good time. And they definitely did - all you could see all night long was a sea of smiling faces, hands in the air and happy feet!
There was a sense that anything could happen, and in a sense it did - Jamie Principle put on an incredible live PA of 'I'll Take You There' with Frankie Knuckles, longtime resident Nippa drove a miniature tank through the club just because he could and our co-founder Justin Berkmann ripped up the 103 as if the past 20 years hadn't even happened.
And the magic continued in the Box. They say that 3 is a magic number - and so it proved as the night's headliners CJ Mackintosh, Frankie Knuckles and David Morales gave us a masterclass in just how house music should be done. Playing the kind of tracks you don't hear at most clubs anymore, what they gave us was a return to our New York, Paradise Garage-inspired roots of soulful, vocal, uplifting, feel-good, foot-stomping house. The infectious groove of the music filtered through the legendary sprung dancefloor and stacked speaker system, through the rainbow-hued lights and lasers into your feet, hands, chest, face until it became a very part of you, putting a smile on your face and your hands in the air. Which was filled with piano hooks, old skool drum breaks and 808 machines as the sheer simplicity of pure house music shone through in all its glory. This could just be our rose-tinted glasses talking, but back in our early days it really did feel like house music was there purely for one reason: to make you feel good. To lift you up, to make you dance, to make you revel in the moment and the music.
And we did, until David Morales ended both his set and the night with a moving tribute to his longtime friend and our co-founder Justin Berkmann (who had not long finished playing an incredible set of his own in the 103). As he praised Justin's vision of bringing what was a totally unique concept in clubbing to the UK, we got goosebumps all over - and not for the first time that night. With the club currently under threat from property developers and facing future closure, Sunday night was even more special, even more poignant, even more precious than it would have already been. A perfect night of celebration captured and crystallised in the clubbing sands of time.
And so I say, here's to you, Ministry of Sound - and to everyone who has been a part of your history - and once again Happy Birthday. Sunday night reminded the clubbing community just exactly how special you are - let's all hope that you really will be around for another 20 years.
To sign the petition to save Ministry of Sound, click here.