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The Social dance music festival at the Kent Showground near Maidstone

By Angela Cole

Big names in techno and dance music will converge on the Kent Showground in Detling for The Social this weekend.

Techno heavyweight DJ Carl Cox returns to the event, which will be held on Friday, September 9, and Saturday, September 10.

Legendary duo Sasha & John Digweed will be headlining the Friday and will be on stage together at the Barn Arena, hosted by Mixmag. Carl Cox will headline the Meadow Arena on the Saturday, also hosted by Mixmag.

Last year’s Social was in Maidstone’s Mote Park, but by moving to the Showground the event now offers camping, funfair rides and market stalls throughout the weekend.

Ahead of the event we caught up with event founder Nic Fanciulli for an exclusive chat...

Carl Cox and Nic Fanciulli at The Social

Carl Cox and Nic Fanciulli at The Social

 

You started The Social in 2013 – how much do you think it has evolved since then? 

We started off with 3,000 people in the first year and we’ve managed to get it up to a two-day festival with 10,000 people per day and camping, so yeah it’s evolved loads! It’s sort of basically taken its own destiny, we never expected it to get to this point. We started it as a passion project and we still run it as a passion project. We’ve stuck to our guns with the music. The only thing that we’ve done slightly differently this year is add a drum and bass arena because Kent is known for drum and bass. Also, the way we booked the line-up, we picked legends like Goldie, LTJ Bukem and Roni Size, we’ve gone down that route.

 

What have been your highlights since 2013?

I think playing back to back with Carl Cox in 2014, that was the highlight for me, that was like my very own festival. Definitely bringing him back is a highlight.

 

Do you think you have achieved what you set out to do with The Social?

I don’t think there was any end goal with it, the idea was just to bring what we do, you know, electronic music, to Kent, to put it on the map. Kent’s had a massive drum and bass and hardcore scene since the early 1990s. The goal was just to bring good music and succeed with a festival.

DJ Carl Cox. Picture by Tony TK Smith.

DJ Carl Cox. Picture by Tony TK Smith.

 

Your home town is Maidstone, but how much time do you get to spend here?

In the summer I’m mainly in Ibiza, but my family and my son’s still in Maidstone, plus all my school friends who I still hang out with are here. So I would say my home base is Maidstone, well just outside, but I’d definitely say Kent. It’s somewhere I love.

 

Growing up in Maidstone, did you go to all the clubs in town?

I got into electronic music in the late 1990s and there was a really famous club night called Club Class at Atomics. Everyone used to play there, like Sasha, John Digweed, Carl Cox, Pete Tong, all the big hitters, it was amazing. And I used to leave mix-tapes with the owner. That was the most legendary club in Maidstone. It was an old club, a really famous rave club. And I became a resident of that club, and that was basically how it all started. It was great.

 

You started out with DJ Rob Cockerton, too, didn’t you?

Rob was pretty much my mentor, he was like my best friend. He was the one that I used to listen to and work in the record shop with, he used to have a record store in Bank Street in Maidstone and I learnt so much from him. It was great, we had some amazing memories. Back then it was very much bar culture, especially in Kent, we didn’t have a lot of big clubs. I used to go and watch him play and warm up for him. I’d say he was pretty much the biggest inspiration I had and he’s still going now! He’s playing The Social again this weekend for the fourth year running.

DJ Rob Cockerton

DJ Rob Cockerton

Nic Fanciulli closes the set at a previous Social

Nic Fanciulli closes the set at a previous Social

 

It’s been quite a journey for you, then?

I’m 35 now, so I’ve been playing for 15 years, it’s a long time. I’ve gone from the dance floor looking at these people as my heroes to standing in front of people like Sasha & Digweed, Carl Cox and Laurent Garnier and having the opportunity to play back to back with them, it’s great.

 

You run The Social with Luke Bendall, how do you work together?

We started the Saved Alleyway party about eight years ago and he was working at Source Bar running the production and security. He came up to me and said “Look, we could do a festival”. He pretty much puts the whole festival together. Luke is the day-to-day person that all the things that I would never think of, he puts together, with the team. It’s a great this year” because we’ve spent four years getting to this point... and now we actually want to enjoy it. I don’t mean we’re going to get hammered, but we’re just going to relax and not worry. No one can go to school and learn how to run a festival, it’s done by making mistakes and we’ve made mistakes over the years, but now we’ve got to a point where we’re all pretty happy.

Tara Wells, Vicky Brownsell and Sam Reynolds from Maidstone at the 2015 Social

Tara Wells, Vicky Brownsell and Sam Reynolds from Maidstone at the 2015 Social

10,000 people flocked to the Summer Social in Mote Park last year

10,000 people flocked to the Summer Social in Mote Park last year

 

INFORMATION

For details and tickets, visit thesocialfestival.com or follow @thesocial on Twitter.

An after-party is being held at The Source Bar in Rose Yard, Maidstone, and ticket holders will be able to take a free shuttle bus between the two venues.

As well as providing an awesome party weekend, The Social raises funds for community groups in Kent.

This year it is supporting Quest School in Paddock Wood, which helps children with autism lead happy lives and reach their full potential.

“Every time we do events, we pick a charity,” said Nic.

“This year is the Quest School and we’re trying to raise £10,000 for them. I think we’ve nearly done it already. The whole thing is community-based, from start to finish, it really is.”

A summer party was held at The Swan in West Malling on August Bank Holiday Monday, with chilled disco, funk and club classics, plus a barbecue, in aid of Spadework in Offham.
To give to the Quest School fund, go to gofundme.com/questschool

Music fans at last year's Social

Music fans at last year's Social

This year's Social will be moving from Mote Park to Detling

This year's Social will be moving from Mote Park to Detling

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