A POPULAR Oxford DJ who kept music lovers dancing throughout lockdown, is looking forward to seeing fans in person when he sets up his record decks at a city brewery.

DJ Dom Utton, from West Oxford, built up a loyal following with his 80s and 90s-themed Indie Disco nights at the Tap Social taproom in Botley.

When the first lockdown hit, and denied a chance to play for crowds, he took his discos online – livestreaming his so-called Isolation Indie Discos from his front room on YouTube every Friday, often joined by his wife Heidi, and children Eithne, 14, and Albert, 12.

He picked up fans around the world with sets of hits by Britpop bands such as Supergrass, Blur and Pulp, as well as ‘golden oldies’ from the likes of the Smiths and the Cure.

Now, after 18 months away, he is returning to the microbrewery, based in a unit in the shadow of the A34 on Curtis Industrial Estate.

Oxford Mail: DJ Dom Utton

“I can’t wait to bring the Indie Disco back to the Tap Social,” he says. “Before everything shut down last year we put on some amazing nights – they always had this incredibly uplifting, joyous atmosphere, with the dancefloor packed with people across all ages and backgrounds. There were some nights where people were actually dancing at the bar, outside by the food truck, and even in the loos.”

He is still surprised at the success of his lockdown dance nights. he said: “To be honest, I started doing them for a few friends and family, just to alleviate the boredom, and they somehow turned into this massive thing.

I think I did 15 in the end, and ended up with thousands of views from all across the world. People were emailing me from as far away as Spain, Sweden, even Argentina saying how much they enjoyed it.”

He says nothing compares to the thrill of a live crowd, however.

“I DJ mostly with vinyl and I basically play my record collection,”he says.

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“I grew up in Manchester in the 80s and 90s clubbing at places like the Hacienda, so luckily I’ve been immersed in this amazing music all my life. What’s really special is seeing how that music still has the power to move people – it’s an incredible feeling to put on something by the Happy Mondays or the Stone Roses and see people who weren’t even born when those songs came out singing and dancing along.”

Since the Tap Social opened up its Botley taproom in 2016, the social enterprise brewery became a staple of the city’s music scene, hosting DJs and live music most weekends. They have since expanded to open the White House pub on Abingdon Road, and Lock 29 in Banbury.

Founder and Director Tess Taylor says that after a difficult 18 months, she feels the time is right for people to enjoy themselves again.

“The last year and a half has been so tough on everyone, and we feel very lucky and grateful to still be here and to have reopened our doors,” she says. “Having the Indie Disco back is a great way to celebrate everything that our community has overcome during the pandemic.

“We are so excited for the return of the Indie Disco this week – it always brought together so many people from our community and the sheer sense of fun it had made it a real staple night for us at Tap Social, with people from all walks of life joining to tear up the dancefloor.”

She also says that although they are hoping for the kind of atmosphere the Indie Disco enjoyed before lockdown, she is also keenly aware that some caution is still necessary.

“We’re well aware that the pandemic is far from over, so we encourage guests to wear a mask at the bar and to social distance where possible,” she adds, “and we encourage those who are able to take a lateral flow test before joining us – as our team members do regularly!”

Both Tess and DJ Dom believe that the time is right to bring the party back, however.

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“I think after the worst 18 months anyone can remember, people are desperate to get out and cut loose again,” says Utton. “That feeling of pure joy you get on a busy dancefloor, belting out your favourite songs, surrounded by your mates… I think we could all do with that again.”

* Catch the Indie Disco tonight, Friday, at the Tap Social, Unit 27, Curtis Industrial Estate, Botley OX2 0LX from 8pm –midnight