Spare a thought for Aidan Larkin.

While we are out enjoying the summer, dancing our socks off at festivals, Aidan spends his time in his garden shed.

Aidan’s shed is not like ours though – and not just because it has hanging baskets, window boxes and garden gnomes. Aidan’s shed is kitted out with one of the best sound systems on the party scene – and he knows how to use it.

At gatherings from the West Country to the far north, Aidan – better known as Count Skylarkin – and his sidekick and fellow Disco Shed founder Peepshow Paddy can be found spinning the finest reggae, dancehall, ska, dance, disco, pop, party, funk and indie tunes to adoring crowds. Picture hundreds of hedonists, arms in the air, singing along to their favourite dance bangers while gathered around a flashing garden shed decorated with pictures of badgers and emitting dry ice, and you’ll get the idea.

Aidan and Paddy are kept busy throughout the summer, and one of the first big outings from them is Oxford’s Common People festival.

“Common People is brilliant,” says Aidan in his lilting west Irish accent (he hails from beautiful Galway, he proudly reminds me). “It’s a great event and a spiritual homecoming for the Disco Shed as well as a great chance to entertain and amuse the good people of Oxford.”

Taking place over May’s Spring Bank Holiday weekend, the two-day gathering in Oxford’s South Park sees The Jacksons topping the bill for a disco-themed Saturday in the shadow of the world’s largest disco ball and world’s biggest bouncy castle.

That will be followed by a more indie-flavoured Sunday, with Oxford rock band Ride and Sit Down’ stars James jointly topping the bill.

Other acts to play the third instalment of the two-day event, on May 26 and 27, include Prince’s New Power Generation, Sparks, Boney M, The Cuban Brothers, Aswad, Jungle Brothers and Hak Baker on Saturday, and Maximo Park, The Sherlocks, Honeyblood, Low Island, Cut Capers, Chainska Brassika and Elvana – an Elvis fronted Nirvana tribute band on the Sunday.

The second day will also feature a set by The London African Gospel Choir who will perform songs from Paul Simon’s Graceland.

The Disco Shed will both complement the main stage action while offering an alternative, broadening the range of sounds on offer on the compact site. And, for Aidan, it promises to be a highlight of the year.

“I’ve been DJing for the best part of 20 years, most of those years from a base in East Oxford, which is the place I stumbled on by mistake 19 years ago and couldn’t get out of my hair!” he says.

Oxford Mail:

A fixture since year one, the Disco Shed has always proved a magnet at Common People, featuring a largely local line-up of talent and the kind of tunes that simply can’t fail to get you on your feet.

This year’s line-up features DJs playing classic party tunes and rarer grooves, with sets from Dan Bossaphonik, Bam Bam Sound, Euan Booth, Tastes Like Chicken, Kerry & K-Tel, Del Gazeebo, Bustmasta Barrydark, Trol23 Vs Alex From Wigan, Disco Darrell Vs Steamin’ John Dash, Soul Sessions, The Hip Drop with Louche & Van Mule, Checkmate, Thematics and Lochie. Count Skylarkin will take to the decks with DJ Binge and the festival will be closed with a crowd-pleasing set from Peepshow Paddy.

A highlight will be Nick & Nell’s Zodiac Discotheque – a set celebrating the glory days of the legendary Cowley Road music venue hosted by its former owner Nick Moorbath and one of the DJs who made it the place to party, Nelly B Page.

“The Disco Shed is a broad church of people beyond just me and Paddy,” says Aidan. “We have our regular shed crew and have picked up lots of people along the way.

"Over the course of two days at Common People there’ll be loads of stuff. Dan Bossaphonik plays a range of music from around the world; Van Mule and Louche will bring 70s funk and jazz; and my great mates Disco Darrell and ‘Steamin’ John Dash will play the Saturday disco day.

“Checkmate, who is a chef at the Magdalen Arms, will play reggae and party tunes; DJ Bing from South Oxfordshire will also play great dance music; Troll23 plays garage and ragga; while Kerry & Harvey K-Tel are disco all the way.

“Del Gazeebo does garage, hip-hop and breaks while Alex from Wigan is our mascot and plays anything he wants. He won’t be pinned down by labels and never lets us down.

“Nick and Nell’s Zodiac Discotheque will be one-and-a-half hours of tunes taking inspiration from the glory days of OX4’s premier entertainment venue. We’ve had both DJing before but never together.

“Euan Booth is a great DJ, and a nurse at the JR. He has been playing since he was 16, scratching records in his bedroom in Witney. Now he plays deep disco and Afrobeat. Bam Bam Sound plays dirty bass and heavy reggae.

“Bustmasta Barrydark is the fourth most evil person to come from Chipping Norton. He has the sinister eyes of a shark and there is nothing going on behind them. He’s a great party DJ though and specialises in dance anthems. As he’s from Chipping Norton and they get everything 25 years late up there, they only got drum & bass there about a year ago – so he’ll be playing a lot of that. He plays with the enthusiasm of a 14 year-old at his first rave.

“Thematics are a crew of hip-hop DJs from around Oxford who like to get a bit ‘Wickety’ and play stone cold hip-hop. It’s all very family-friendly though; they’ll be playing the radio edits!

Oxford Mail:

“Paddy always closes the festival with the last set on Sunday and is brilliant. Whatever everyone needs at that point of the weekend, he will find it. It’s great, unpretentious party music which brings everyone together at the end.”

He goes on: “I’ll be playing with DJ Binge because people get bored of just hearing me. It takes a bit of the pressure off too and it brings the unexpected out of us. There will be a quickfire mix of fun, soul, disco, Latin, garage, hip-hop and jungle – it will be all over the shop and won’t be what a lot of people expect from me. And we’ll be doing the same thing at the Bully after for the after party.”

He adds: “We are always careful to complement and contrast the line-up on both days. There’s a mix of things but a definite disco feel at the start before going to another place later because if, by the end of the day, you fancy something different, we’ll be there to provide it!"

For Aidan and Paddy it is a homecoming, bringing the shed – which spends its downtime on a farm near Chipping Norton – back to its Oxford roots.

“Years ago I moved into a house off Cowley Road,” says Aidan describing the origins of the shed.

“The garden was overgrown and when we cut away the weeds we found a shed. My first thought was that it had potential as a DJ booth and party venue – and Paddy had exactly the same idea.

“It became the scene of numerous garden parties. It got to the point where people would turn up at the house with a bag of booze from the ‘offie’ and just expect there to be a party.”

Some of those party animals were involved in booking for festivals and signed up the Disco Shed for its first gatherings, entertaining crowds of revellers at Truck and The Big Chill.

“To spare the neighbours we took the party out of the garden and into the countryside,” he says.

And this Spring Bank Holiday he brings it back to its East Oxford roots.

“This year’s Common People is going to be amazing," he says. "I don’t know why anyone would not want to come.

"I'll see you there!"

Oxford Mail:

It's festival time for Oxford

Since being launched three years ago by the team behind the award-winning Bestival and Camp Bestival events in Dorset, Common People has established itself as a highlight of the city’s cultural calendar and the first big event of the festival season.

This year’s event, on May 26 and 27, promises to be the best yet, with organiser Rob da Bank tweaking the formula slightly to create an event curated for the good people of Oxfordshire, offering something for almost everyone – and plenty for families.

Having previously hosted headliners Duran Duran and Primal Scream for its inaugural event and Pete Tong and Sean Paul last year, the bar was set high, but with The Jacksons topping a disco day on Saturday and James and Oxford indie-rockers Ride on the Sunday, this year’s bill is another cracker.

“This Spring Bank Holiday you could sit in the pub all day and stare into space or you could have a brilliant day out with all the family, right on your doorstep,” says Rob.

“We’ve always been in favour of being a little bit adventurous, so we’ve put a lot of effort into making sure that there’s something for everyone at Common People.

“The music line-up ranges from probably the greatest disco band of all time, The Jacksons, to local heroes Ride and indie giants James and keeps on giving all the way down the bill with Maximo Park, Morcheeba, Aswad, Sparks and, my personal highlight, The New Power Generation. And then there’s a Carnival stage, the Disco Shed, Pig’s Big Ballroom, new bands on the UnCommon stage curated by Nightshift and loads more.

“But, we’ve never done things by halves, so it doesn’t stop there. We’ve got all sorts of non-music revelry to keep you busy, like an amazing gin festival and artisan food market, with lots more great food stalls and cocktail and craft ale bars. We have a huge new kids garden with the Word’s Biggest Bouncy Castle, fun fair rides and circus skills to try with the Gorilla Circus or BigTopMania. And there’s tons of great fun to be had with the likes of Cowley Road Carnival dance workshops, Oxford Playhouse Children’s Theatre Tent, the World of Supersaurs, crazy inflatables, wall climbing and giant bubble blowing to name just a few.”

Tickets cost from £35.75 for adults per day (student and child discounts available), from

Oxford Mail:


To get us all in the festival mood, Rob is giving away five family tickets to next month’s event. Each family ticket allows entry to two adults and two children under 14, and is worth almost £184.

For a chance to win, simply tell us the name of Aidan Larkin’s Disco Shed partner and co-founder.

Answers by post to: Weekend Common People Competition, Features Desk, Newsquest Oxfordshire, Newspaper House, Osney Mead, Oxford OX20EJ or email

Answers must reach us by midday on May 6, 2018. Usual rules apply and the Editor’s decision is final.