In his various guises as DJ, promoter, club owner, recording artist, producer and one-man party, Holloway has been at the forefront of dance music’s meteoric rise through the commercial and cultural ranks over the last two and a half decades.
It was in 1984 that Holloway’s profile began to build with the legendary Special Branch club at London Bridge where, for over four years, a trendy London club crowd became exposed to the exotic delights of Hip-Hop, Rare Groove, Soul & Jazz and even early House music. Household names like Pete Tong & Gilles Peterson also set their roots at the club. During this time, Holloway began a series of one-off events at unusual venues – The Natural History Museum, Lords Cricket Ground, Jubilee Gardens, and most famously London Zoo where all targets for Holloway’s balls, spreading outwards from the Capital to Thorpe Park, Chislehurst Caves and Rockley Sands Caravan Park in Dorset – an event with such ground-breaking music, diverse DJ’ing and open-minded patronage that it became the natural springboard for subsequent Ibiza missions. When Nicky Holloway and a few others first took 300 people to Ibiza in 1985 they quite literally invented the Balearic scene. It was this jaunt and further group holidays that showed what Ibiza was like before it was “Uncovered!” back in the UK.
1988 was a hugely influential year for the arrival and emergence of House music, although it had been brewing for a year already in certain clubs. It was a Holloway event that provided it’s most prominent platform – the rip roaring Trip & Sin at London’s Astoria which kept two thousand plus clubbers on their toes for over two years solid, giving heroes such as David Morales, Todd Terry, Kevin Saunderson, Derrick May, and West Bam a first taste of this new scene and their first gigs in London.
In 1990 Holloway took House back underground with the opening of the Milk Bar. At one stage the club’s residents list read like a who’s who of Twentieth Century dance music. Darren Emmerson and Paul Harris held court on Mondays, Danny Rampling’s “Pure Sexy” took over Wednesdays, Paul Oakenfold and Nicky Holloway ruled Friday’s, Pete Tong and Dave Dorrell looked after Saturdays with the weekend rounded off by Lisa Loud and Brandon Block’s “F.U.B.A.R.” on Sunday nights. Even Jamiroquai and the Brand New Heavies played some of their first live gigs there.
Throughout the Nineties Nicky’s venues were at the pointy end of whatever was cooking. The legendary Velvet Underground club, which opened in 1993 and closed in 1999, took over almost seamlessly from the Milk Bar when the lease had ran out and provided London with one of the coolest clubs around. Back in Ibiza he opened a Milk Bar in one of the most glamorous clubs in the world, Pacha, and another across the island in San Antonio. In the UK more Holloway weekenders were organized – this time under the Kaos banner at Camber Sands, and let’s not forget THAT party – the legendary transportation of 3000 people to Dance Europe to rave the night away at the newly opened Euro Disney! Nicky had also became the must-have DJ of the celeb party circuit DJ’ing for, among many others, Madonna, Giorgio Armani and Jean Paul Gaultier and clocked up a fair few air miles playing guest slots in 34 different countries across the globe,
At the turn of the Millennium Nicky had quite literally burnt out and decided after a month in a very expensive private clinic it was time to move on to the next phase of his life, enrolling in a college course and learning how to programme and make music while putting together his own little studio. But new directions have not curtailed his passion for live work, “I still love to DJ but keep it down to no more than 4 gigs a month – I used to be out every night of the week and would have gone to the opening of an envelope but now I’m as happy as Larry in the studio making music”. However it’s important as a DJ to keep my finger on the pulse and be aware of what’s going on in the dance scene, so I can’t ever see myself retiring”. His regular gigs at Area in Watford and guest spots for KISS club nights prove he can still cut it among the cream of today’s more recent DJ stars that, quite rightly eye the Holloway record box with more than a little envy. Nicky seems just as at home playing to an upfront crowd of twenty-somethings as he does a corporate-party of forty-somethings, something not everyone can pull off.
While researching Nicky to write this piece I did what everyone does these day’s and “Googled” him, I wasn’t however, expecting to have to wade through so much that’s already been written about him. Nicky Holloway has been in the dance music business for 25 years his status is legendary, ask anyone who has been around if they know the name Nicky Holloway and 9 out of 10 answers will be a resounding “absolutely”