WEEKENDS just aren’t the same on lockdown. With the days blurring into each other, for many, Friday nights are no different to any other.

But one Oxford music lover is determined to bring back that Friday feeling – and kick off the weekend in style.

For the past year and a half, Dominic Utton has been delighting crowds at the Tap Social brewery in Botley with a feelgood mix of indie-rock. But with the venue temporarily closing its doors it initially seemed that DJ Dom’s decks would fall silent.

Determined not to drop a beat, he has gone online, with his Self Isolated Indie Disco continuing to keep us moving – albeit in our kitchens and living rooms.

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“The Indie Discos at the Tap Social were always brilliant nights, so when we all went in to lockdown I thought it would be fun to try to do the same on YouTube,” says the 47 year-old author and journalist.

“Heaven knows it’s miserable now, so I figured this would be a great way to bring a bit of joy into people’s lives for at least a couple of hours every Friday night.

“I really feel that there’s a kind of joy and release in music that you don’t find anywhere else. It has a real power to take you out of yourself... turning up a banging tune and dancing like an idiot in your front room or kitchen does your mental health a power of good.

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“And at the very least, means you forget about everything else for a little while at least.”

And it is going down a storm with listeners of all ages and tastes. “I do the whole thing from my front room in my house in West Oxford, which means clearing a lot of stuff out of the way every Friday,” he laughs.

“My wife Heidi and kids Eithne, 13, and Albert, 11, get involved with the dancing too – look out for them in the corner of the screen!”

He goes on: The initial idea was to just do it for my friends locally, but from the very first one it took off, with people sharing it on social media.

“What’s really amazing is I’ve had people contact me who work for the NHS, supermarkets and the Royal Mail, and they’ve said what a brilliant release it is at the end of a hard week on the front line.

“People have also sent me pictures of themselves dancing in their living rooms, and even setting up Zoom meetings to dance together.”

And his fame is spreading, with people listening in from around the country.

Oxford Mail:

“The first three discos have already had over 1,300 views on YouTube, which is staggering to me,” he says. “I’ve had people tuning in from all over the country; I’ve been contacted by people in Manchester, Sheffield, Cambridge... even one person in Argentina! Obviously, I’d love as many people as possible to tune in every week but, to be honest, I’d do it even if it was just a few mates. Apart from anything else, it’s a chance for me to play my favourite records and dance about in my own front room every week.”

He says he was inspired by the popularity of Joe Wicks’s PE sessions, but decided to stream it on YouTube so listeners don’t need to be in front of a computer.

He adds: “I spent a couple of days getting to grips with the technology involved. I DJ from vinyl and CDs rather than iTunes or Spotify or anything like that, so I needed to get a gadget so I could run a feed from my decks into my laptop. I also put together a film of cool visuals so people could recreate the atmosphere of a rave in their front room – and would also have something to look at other than me. That’s been fun too; I’ve got footage from old indie discos at the Tap Social along with clips of break dancers, video games, lasers, and I’ve put a fair number of ‘Love the NHS’ images in there too, just to remind people why we’re doing it.”

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And what can we expect to hear? “The music I play is basically my record collection – which leans heavily on the 80s and 90s,” he says.

“And as I was brought up in Manchester, my favourite bands are all the classics from that era – the Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, New Order and The Smiths – as well as the great Britpop bands of my 20s like Supergrass, Blur and Pulp.

“I definitely keep it upbeat for these Indie Discos – two hours is a great amount of time because it means I can just put on banger after banger and good times are guaranteed.”

Oxford Mail:

To get involved, go to YouTube, search for ‘Dominic Utton’ and hit the live feed button every Friday from 8-10pm.

“I’m doing this every Friday for as long as we’re locked down... or the copyright police take me down,” he grins. “Though I think the record companies will understand why I’m doing this – just to bring a bit of joy into people’s lives. I’m certainly not making any money out of it.”

And does he have any lockdown raving / kitchen disco tips? “Turn it up loud, get yourself a drink, and dance like nobody’s watching... because nobody is!”

Gabbie Parham, Senior Matron for Community Nursing at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, is a fan. She says: “It’s a brilliant way of switching off after a hard week on the front line.

“I turned up the music, danced around the front room and forgot about the world for a couple of hours.

“Just what the doctor ordered!”

  • Listen to DJ Dom’s Isolation Discos on YouTube. Search for ‘Dominic Utton’ and hit the live feed button every Friday from 8-10pm