If there was a television programme that encapsulated the heady days of dance music in its formative years, it was arguably MTV’s Party Zone, which showcased dance tracks both new and old as well as featuring often anarchic outdoor broadcasts from the likes of Berlin’s Love Parade.
Running from 1988 to 2000, Party Zone was produced and programmed by James Hyman – now the owner of the largest collection of magazines in the world (click here for more information on that) – and hosted for much of its duration by Dutch VJ Simone Angel.
There had been nothing like it on TV before or since – two hours of cutting-edge dance music and interviews with the leading lights of the scene… often backed by some seriously trippy fractal-style graphics.
As 7 Magazine put it back in July 2000, “If one channel deserves credit for sticking its neck out while Captain Rock waved his axe around, it is MTV. In the early 90s, when Glastonbury was as radical as the BBC were prepared to get, James Hyman organised features about people like the Aphex Twin in the two-hour show PARTY ZONE.
“A lot of dance music didn’t have (and doesn’t have) videos, and Hyman broke up the chicken and egg problem of video making by offering producers airtime in advance.”
Or, as Hyman himself wrote on his blog a few years back, “Back in those halcyon MTV days, we became the Batman & Robin of rave/club culture, a dynamic duo on a mission to document & broadcast everything in ‘dance’ music; from Berlin Love Parades, DMC World Mixing Championships in Italy & New York to techno music scenes in Japan, Detroit and even the North Pole etc.
“Most of this globe-trotting would revolve around the first full-length TV interview with everyone, and I mean EVERYONE on the circuit, established or up-and-coming – Moby, Goldie, Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, David Holmes, Paul Oakenfold, Orbital, Aphex Twin and about 800 others.”
Now, the duo have teamed up to introduce a new podcast, Ancient & Justified: MTV’s Party Zone Revisited, to catch up with the many DJs, performers and producers who appeared on the show during its 12-year run, as well as meet those who would have been invited on Party Zone if the show had not been taken off-air in 2000.
The first episode went live on Tuesday 15 February, and sees the pair catch up with Killer and N-R-G producer Adamski. You can check it out here.
As Simone tells 909originals, “future episodes will feature DJ Hype, Speech from Arrested Development, Ray from 2 Unlimited, Howie B, Rozalla, Rob Da Bank, Mark from Altern 8, Graham from 808 State, and many more that we’re talking to at the moment”, with each episode going out on a Tuesday.
Best of luck to Simone and James with what is sure to be an insightful trip down memory lane! More information can be found here. 🙂