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A Night of Clubbing to Classical Music

Ministry of Sound take club classics and "classicalise" them with an orchestra in a Victorian venue steeped in arts' history and support

By Rachel DeemingPublished about a month ago 6 min read
Image taken by author of Royal Albert Hall, London

The Royal Albert Hall. What a venue. One steeped in history, whose presence speaks of architectural might as manifested by the engineering magnificence of the Victorians, the red brick depicting both the solidness of their design but also their keenness on the aesthetic. Echoes of the Pantheon in Rome are palpable and the royal combination of red brick contrasting with yellow stone, like rubies and gold, speak of opulence and tribute.

It is perched on Kensington High Street, London at the gates to Kensington Gardens and is overlooked by its namesake, Prince Albert, who is considerably more gaudy looking in his defiant gold, sat opposite his concert venue, a set of steps leading up to his seating place and his adored status in Victoria's eyes.

Personally, I'd have created something a little less ostentatious but then, I'm no queen.

Prince Albert's Memorial Statue - That's a lot of gold.

Myself and my family were here for a night of music but whilst the Royal Albert Hall is renowned for being the home of the classical Proms concert, held there annually, tonight we were visiting for something a little different.

Ministry of Sound

What do you know about Ministry of Sound? Firstly, not a government organisation or something Orwellian, despite how it sounds.

It was, and still is, (as well as a record label, owned by Sony and used as a means to promote new music artists) a nightclub in London whose reputation grew in the 1990s due to its dance music scene and the rise of the DJ. No longer were DJs your mum's best friend's boyfriend who had a couple of decks and some lights on stands in the garage, who did weddings and birthdays at the weekends when he wasn't cleaning windows.

No, DJs were evolving into a new breed of musical influencers and mixers, whose ability to create a set of tunes to present at a large venue or club, was highly sought after and creating a whole new musical culture. Influenced by the USA with specific mention of Chicago, this spread was helped in Britain certainly by Ibiza and the dance scene there, Ibiza being a small Spanish island of the Balearics, frequented by tourists but in the 1990s, becoming a centre for all things dance and trance.

Today, the club may not have the same draw but the logo is recognisable which is probably why Sony jumped on acquiring it, knowing a good brand opportunity when they saw it.

Courtesy of Sony Music

So, what has this got to do with the Royal Albert Hall?

Well, Ministry of Sound do classical. The Royal Albert Hall is a classical concert venue. Maybe I need to explain the Ministry of Sound do classical thing a little more.

It is a strange concept in many ways. Take two completely different genres of music - dance and classical - and use elements from the one to put a completely different slant on the other. It seems like they are opposing and that this marriage could only be incongruous and clunky, resulting in disharmony rather than a truly enjoyable music experience.

But the latter is most definitely true.

Dance classics are essentially reworked using an orchestra. They still have the beat and the essence of the original tune but the instruments give depth, and in theory, a richer sound. It works really, really well.

Some of the tunes that are classically remixed are Fat Boy Slim's "Right Here, Right Now", Livin' Joy's "Am I dreamer" and most famously, Faithless' "Insomnia". I've provided refreshers of the originals below for your delectation.

Don't think that it is suddenly going to make what has been a genre associated with freedom and expression become staid and formal. It doesn't. And don't think that being in a venue normally used for more sedate classical evenings will alter the ambiance of the music either. It didn't.

It was one of the best nights savouring the pure delight that music can bring that I have had in my life.

Firstly, the atmosphere. You don't go to something like this expecting to sit and observe. This is a night for dancing, for feeling the music, for hearing the tune and getting that sensation in your gut where you know that you can't keep still while you're listening to it and that once you succumb to that sensation, you will indulge in the dance until your thighs ache, your arms strain and your mind sings.

And you'll get very, very hot.

Ministry of Sound would do nothing without a light show extravaganza and so there were lasers and smoke and fizzing flames and strobes. The club atmosphere was emulated to the full.

There was a great mixture of people there from all ages - and I mean, from all ages. Our family alone ranged from teens to fifty-somethings. There was a lady in front of me who was in her sixties, for sure and I can't imagine that she was the oldest. The majority? Thirties? Maybe? Younger than me, that's for sure. But I wasn't there to compare.

I wanted to dance.

And that's just what I did. For about an hour and a half. After a Wagamama's. And having walked the streets of London for a good couple of hours before the concert.

Unheard of.

But actually not, only in this section of my timeline. Because I used to love to dance and still do when given the chance. In fact, ask me what I miss most about being in my current incarnation of mum, domestic goddess, taxi driver, football supporter and general organiser (with writing on the side) and it would be dancing at a club to great music on a Friday or Saturday night, sometimes both (I know!).


And I proved on Saturday night that I've still got it. I mean, I felt it a little the next day but more than that, I felt the overwhelming sense of joy and fulfilment that listening and dancing to music brings.

Let me tell you a story about my night.

Picture the scene: a quite plump fifty year old woman. Dark jeans. Long brown hair. A reasonably dressy top but not one that restricts movement. A comfortable pair of boots (days of high heels are long gone).

She is positioned at the very top of the Albert Hall, with the gods. The only other people above her are the ones who have to stand in the gallery. She has a wonderful seat and around her are a variety of people.

A group of five friends in their twenties are sitting two rows in front of her. They are laughing and drinking, with their rainbow glow sticks made into bracelets, waving as they dance, an added iridescence to the party atmosphere of the place.

They're having a great time.

But so is she.

She is dancing like she is unobserved, the throb of the beat pulsating and driving her to move. She feels the music, the rhythm, the tune and it delights her, and she shows this in her energy and her wildness and her lack of inhibition. It is an image of pure joy. She is, in that moment, experiencing something like euphoria as she exposes herself completely to the music without giving a damn about who can see her and what they think of her including her own family who are sat sedately beside her.

She is waiting for a tune and when it comes, it will be the absolute zenith of her evening.

But before it plays, one of the young men turns around and reaches across the rows to her with his hand out. She's not sure if he is speaking to her because it is loud and dark but she bends towards him and it is to her he wishes to speak.

She puts out her hand and takes the thin thing offered. She looks over her shoulder to see if he wants her to pass it to someone behind her but he shakes his head.

"It's for you!" He shouts to be heard over the music and the crowd. It's a glow stick; orange dayglo, like Lulu Lemon gym wear. "We want you to have it because we love the fact that you are having such a good time!"

The woman could be patronised by this; a lesser one would. But instead, she accepts it in the spirit it was meant - a shared joy and love of music. Maybe their mums don't dance like this. Maybe their mums don't like dance music. Maybe this is a young person's party. But she doesn't think so and more importantly, she doesn't care.

And so when Café del Mar by Energy 52 plays, the song for which she has been waiting all evening, this fifty year old woman, who is really just a girl who loves to dance, loses the trappings of her everyday existence and surrenders herself completely and utterly to the music. She closes her eyes, loses herself in her hair, puts her arms up to the auditorium roof and waves her hands in the air, one of her wrists accessorised by an orange glow stick gifted by strangers.

To end, this from TikTok:

featuretechnohistoryelectronicadanceconcertclassicalalternative90s music

About the Creator

Rachel Deeming

Storyteller. Poet. Reviewer. Traveller.

I love to write. Check me out in the many places where I pop up:


My blog






Beware of imitators.

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Comments (4)

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  • Andy Pottsabout a month ago

    Interesting to see how clubbing is evolving. I'd heard a lot about the 'classical' reinvention, but the rise of 'afternoon clubbing' also caught my eye: Could see that suiting me better now I'm old and doddery!

  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarranabout a month ago

    Wooohooooo looks like you had a blast!! I too would have been so happy and excited if someone gave me a glow stick. Hehehheehee

  • John Coxabout a month ago

    I agree wholeheartedly with Paul! It sounds wonderful. It has always amazed me that one can dance for hours, and never once feel like we are working out. Positively magical!

  • Paul Stewartabout a month ago

    Ah, Rachel, chum, chummy chummy chum. This is delightful. This really should be a Top Story, Though I am still annoyed they didn't make that one a few weeks ago one. Anyway, thank you for the jaunt through memory lane...I grew up in that sorta time period...loved the music but didn't really have the social circles for going clubbing.But loved the amount of passion in this piece and your lovely experience with the fella sharing a glowstick. Lots of my favourite moments when I've understood that humans can be great have been at music events...some have been examples of the opposite, but mostly yes the good side. I love this kinda thing too...Hacienda Classical and Minstry of Sound Classical. Metallica, curiously also did a classical concert, with the San Francisco Orchestra that is rather majestic...and then did an anniversary version of it too. Anyway, what a fab little piece that had me smiling all the way. Love your zest for life and music. Well bloody done.

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