By MIKE HOULAHAN
When people think of the great night spots of the world, England's Sheffield would not be high on the list. But that is where the worldwide clubbing phenomenon Gatecrasher started.
The super-club now attracts thousands to its events. It plays indoor venues up to 25,000 capacity and holds outdoor events where an estimated 50,000 have taken part
"Did we ever think it could end up like this? Not in our wildest dreams," says Scott Bond, DJ and co-founder of Gatecrasher.
Gatecrasher has staged nights in places you might expect - Canada, the United States, Japan - and a few you wouldn't, such as Brazil and China. New Zealand, where Bond is about to DJ, has been on the itinerary for some time.
If you can't get to a Gatecrasher event you can recreate the atmosphere in the comfort of your own home, thanks to the label's compilation CDs.
Ten have been released so far and some have gone multi-platinum in New Zealand. "When we first started doing it, a lot of clubs were doing albums and they'd all be the same.
"My aim was to give people new music. If you went to Gatecrasher the week after the album came out you'd hear half the tunes.
That's how up-with-it the albums are.
"When I'm on tours, I'll play a few of my favourite records that have been on the compilations, but I've usually got this rule of thumb that once something is on a compilation and people can listen to it in their house, they don't want to come out and hear me play it at a club. It's about moving forward."
Being that up to date with the changing moods of the dance scene requires weeks of work and listening to several hundred records. "It sounds like a great job, but you ought to try doing it." Bond laughs.
"You've got to find tunes that aren't released yet but are going to be big. There's nothing better than finding that one good record, even if you've listened to 30."
The CDs have created for Bond and co their own little genre at the harder-edged end of the trance music spectrum - the Gatecrasher sound. Bond acknowledges there is a certain style of music which fits into the format.
He is also more than aware the club's sound and its international activities leave it open to criticism for delivering a "plastic, McDonald's-style clubbing experience", to quote one negative article.
"You always get that," Bond says. "I've been DJing now for 12 years so I've seen a lot of brands on the way up and on the way back down again. Look at something like [London club] Ministry of Sound - they received a lot of bad press for years, but they're one of the biggest independent record labels in the world. I'm sure they're not even bothered, and neither am I."
Gatecrasher set out at the beginning to make each night an event, rather than simply a night out.
The crowd quickly started playing its part. The "Crasher kids" soon developed a look of their own which contributed to the burgeoning hype surrounding the club.
Those original fans have helped to spread the Gatecrasher word far and wide.
When the club does travel overseas they find Crasher kids everywhere.
* Gatecrasher, St James tonight.