The return of Gin & Juice

The return of Gin & Juice

 For those who haven’t lived in York long enough to know, there was a day when very little happened in Fibbers. Gig-nights usually closed at 11, leaving averagely empty club-nights to follow. Ever ended up at ‘Up the racket’ on a Friday? Yeah, kinda’ like that, if not worse. All the time.

As it happens, the sticky floor has become a gold-mine for entrepreneurial, student club-organisers, blowing up their bucks by blasting the bass. It’s become such a normal occurrence for someone to just ‘have a go’ at putting a night on that we almost forgot where it all started. The year was 2011 but the music was pure 90s. With this Friday’s comeback night, I had a chat with the original dj/part-orgainser and, believe it or not, our own founder, Jack Luckett.

First off, for those who are unfamiliar with the infamous Gin & Juice, fill us in on how you started and what you’re all about.

 In my second year, I lived in a really big house with 9 other people. We had 2 really big living rooms and a huge garden so we had a lot of big parties. I used to DJ the parties with David and all anyone ever wanted to hear was r’n’b and hip-hop. The basic idea grew out of that. I didn’t do anything with it for ages though as I was burnt-out promotion-wise because I was involved in Circulation, a dance music night called Idioteque and URY. In my third year, I heard through ex-Circulation editor Hana that Hinge wanted to start a night that would replicate the success of Itchy Feet to raise money for them to go to Edinburgh. We teamed up with them – Hana, David and I provided the concept, music and flyer design, they did the promotion and ticket sales. Its been way more successful than I ever thought, and a whole load of fun.

The basic concept is to play r’n’b and hip-hop for the whole night, dress like you’re in the ‘90’s, drink gin and juice, and dance. Itchy Feet was really popular, but I found the whole thing weird because it was basically riding off nostalgia for a time that no-one who went had actually experienced. We aren’t much better as we are still a nostalgia club night but at least its our nostalgia, you know?

You’ve been off the radar for a little while now, why such a long gap?

 Katie and Meg have been finishing up their degrees. Promotion is pretty time consuming so we gave it a miss until now.

Everyone’s pretty exciting for it. Can you give us any hints of what kind of music we’ve got in store?

 All the classics. In all likelihood, this is going to be the last ever Gin & Juice so I’m not gonna hold back. I’m looking forward to playing some Dre, TLC, Outkast, Destiny’s Child, Wu-Tang, Mariah Carey and loads more. I’m gonna try and fit in some tracks that have come out since the last one we did too – I can’t wait to play Kendrick’s ‘Backseat Freestyle’ on Fibbers’ system.

If you had to pick between Ashanti or Aaliyah who would you go for and why?

 Probably Aaliyah. Some of her tracks are incredible: ‘One in a Million’, ‘R U That Somebody?’, ‘More Than a Woman’. Ashanti just doesn’t have the same depth. Also, Aaliyah never collaborated with Ja Rule.

In the past, you guys got criticised for stepping off tack occasionally by those who turned up expecting pure 90s . What are your thoughts on this kind of reaction?

 I don’t pay any attention to them. The ‘90s is just our jumping-off point, and its a much clearer theme for people to dress for than the factually-correct description: ‘Quality r’n’b and hip-hop from the ‘80s to the present’. At the night, what you get is my attempt to please everyone who comes, from the real hip-hop heads coming up and requesting Big L, J Dilla and stuff off Wu-Tang solo albums, to the guys who just wanna hear ‘Say My Name’, ‘No Scrubs’ and ‘Niggas in Paris’. The whole thing is totally beside the point of the night for me. Its meant to be a fun time, not a 100% accurate representation and reproduction of the ‘90’s.

Current artists like Nicki Minaj often provoke the words “rnb and hip hop just aren’t what they were in the 90s”. Would you say that’s a fair claim?

 Definitely not. People who hold that opinion are as out of touch as those people who think decent music started and ended in the ‘60’s. We’re living through a great time for r’n’b and hip-hop. Artists like Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean, Kanye West, Beyonce, Jay-Z, The Weeknd and The-Dream are some of the best ever in any genre. Then you’ve got the whole of the rest of the Black Hippy Crew, Joey Bada$$ and Pro Era, Chance The Rapper, A$AP Rocky and (dare I say it) Drake. Acts like Angel Haze, Mykki Blanco and Leif are breaking new ground and changing the culture’s attitudes. And thats just mentioning singers or rappers. What about producers like Flying Lotus, Clams Casino, TNGHT and Ryan Hemsworth? The golden age of hip-hop was a great time for music, but open your ears for just a moment to the current scene and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

You guys were the first group of students to take over Fibbers for the night. How do you feel about starting what’s become something of a York trend?

 I think its a great thing. When I first came to York, there was practically no music scene and hardly any regular nights except for Freakin, Herbal Mafia and Breakz events. The rise of Milli Vanilli, Bangers and Mash and all the rest is a wonderful thing to happen to the University of York. I like to think that we were trailblazers for all the guys that followed us to Fibbers but I don’t want to take anything away from them. Not only can their residents actually DJ properly, but also the nights are forward-thinking and promote new music. The guys involved in the nights – Tim Perera, Harkrit Boparai, Harry Jones and the Bangers & Mash team – are heroic. I only wish they were running when I was at the university. There is a such a huge tide of YUSU-backed shit to fight against that clogs up the scene in York. Some people go clubbing for the first time when they come to university – they must wonder what all the hype is about when they go to Revs, Salvation or Tokyo. People deserve better.

Where next? Is this really going to be the last G&J in York ever?

 Looks that way, but never say never. I could be tempted out of retirement if someone was willing to organise continuing.

Jack’s recently started a radio show on Shoreditch Radio called Always Human with the aim to build up a club-night and label. You can listen to his shows on Mixcloud at

Jonjo Lowe