Jonathan Ulysses

Jonathan Ulysses explains why he went from dance music hater to Space resident.

Interview, DJ feature

What can we expect from your appearance in Dubai?
When you get to Chi you should expect good times and to party down. I’ve played there a few times before – it’s a great little club with a great atmosphere and a lot of really up-for-it people that just want to have a good time.

You’ve played all over the world – have you noticed any odd quirks abroad?
I used to think it was weird when I was DJing in America and the dancefloor would clear as everyone rushed outside to have a cigarette. And you’d think you’d put on a bad record or something. It’s happening in [Jonathan’s home country] the UK now as well.

Where and how did you first discover dance music?
When I first went to Ibiza in ’89. I didn’t really like it – I was more of a soul boy then. But when I went back out there in ’92 I discovered how versatile dance music was – how you can twist it up and make it sound a bit reggae or make it sound hip hop or a bit techno, and that’s what won me over.

You’ve said before that you had to make sacrifices to become a DJ. What did you mean?
When you become a DJ your weekends don’t belong to you any more. That’s the price you pay. Some people don’t think giving up their weekends is important, but that’s when most people get married or have birthday parties and family events. And instead you’re thinking about being in the airport or in a traffic jam, or doing three cities in a night.

Is this how you saw it when you were younger?
I saw an episode of [’90s UK documentary series] Ibiza Uncovered that I did many, many years ago on TV last night. I looked at myself being interviewed on the screen, and I thought, ‘Who is that guy?’ I didn’t know him so well any more. But he was saying he wanted to be happy, earning a living doing what he was doing and be respected, and I liked the comparison between what I wanted then and what I have now.

What do you have left to achieve?
Well I’d like to win a Grammy and an Oscar. Never say never!

So are you leaving Ibiza for the bright lights of Hollywood?
Nah, I love the job, and I love the fact that I’m the guy in charge even if it’s just for those two or three hours. I’m the person who’s going to make or break their night, and it’s a massive thing to have that power over people, but you’re not taking advantage of that power by being negative, you’re being positive. I’ll always be a DJ. Even when I’m 60, I’ll still be there putting my hand up saying I’ve got a great selection of records and we can have a good time at my place.

So you’ll be rocking out the old folks’ home when you’re 80?
There’s nothing wrong with old people wanting to have a good time and a good dance. Old people nowadays do the waltz and line dancing, but when we’re old and grey what are we going to be doing? We’re going to be dancing to the classic house tunes of the old days – and I’ll have all of them.

What’s the greatest night you’ve ever had?
There are too many to choose. Probably it was closing Space in 2005, playing Lionel Ritchie’s ‘All Night Long (All Night)’ as the last track and watching 3,000 with their hands held up in the air, crying.

Lionel Richie’s not that bad.
No, they were crying because it was the end of the summer, basically.

What about your weirdest night?
I loved seeing weird people with piercings all over their bodies – and I mean all over their bodies – freaking out to dance music. Real weird-looking goths dancing in Space. And I’ve seen a few celebrities dropping their guard and doing weird things.

Ooh, who?
No, I can’t say. What happens in Ibiza stays in Ibiza.

Jonathan Ulysses plays Chi, December 5. For more info, see

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