Thursday 25th October saw the official launch of Nova, an entirely student-run house, bass and garage night, hosted by Fabio’s Bar. But how did this seemingly new genre of music compare to the regular and all consuming chart and cheese that Durham offers week in week out?
Expectations were mixed. One Van Mildert student expressed doubts at the start of the night: “I have heard that this sort of night has been tried before but failed to become a Durham regular.” While the future of Nova is still unclear, the night itself can be deemed an overwhelming success. Nova’s founder, Yousef Al-Qatami from Trevelyan, was thrilled with the reception, saying, “I really wanted to be able to bring to House music to Durham. This won’t be the last you’ll see of Nova and if all goes well we will be having another night in a few weeks’ time.”
Durham’s very own Ollie Scott (DJ and co-founder of Nova from Hild Bede) kicked the night off with a bang, and by eleven there was already a good crowd. Next in the line was Johnny ‘Joonipah’ Phethean, an up and coming DJ who is more at home playing at Newcastle’s World Head Quarters with the likes of Shy FX, Dark Shy, Joy Orbison, Phaeleh and XXXY. Joonipah was excited to bring house and garage to Durham and enjoyed headlining the night. He particularly liked the DJ booth in Fabio’s: “Behind the bar, it’s a great setup.” He got the crowd dancing with some great hits such as Julio Bashmore’s ‘Au Seve’ and Arkist’s ‘Fill Your Coffee’.
The diversity in the music genre created a different kind of atmosphere, one that is new to Durham. The evening was very well advertised, and well in advance. The edgy flyers, the Nova logo, the alluring posters dotted around the event, not to mention the intriguing and mysterious ‘Nova girl’, all combined to great effect.
However, Nova had to compete with stiff competition from the nationally established Itchy Feet, which offers a variety of swing and non-electronic music. Omar Ismail (co-director of Nova from Hild Bede) said that “It was a shame that two alternative nights had to compete for Durham’s attention on the same evening.” There were also concerns about the capacity of Fabio’s. The launch party was free and by midnight the venue had almost reached full capacity. Colin the bouncer said, “It’s the busiest I have ever seen it on a Thursday night.”
It has been rumoured that Absolute Life have approached Nova with the intention of expanding their monopoly over Durham’s nightlife. However, Al-Qatami may be right in being cautious of joining such a brand as it has the potential to ruin the ethos of the night and inhibit its originality. “The purpose of the night was not to make money but to enjoy the music we love, in Durham, and not have to go to Newcastle every week,” said Al-Qatami. Such an approach is a refreshing contrast to some of the other moneymaking events that Durham offers.
It was also encouraging to see Newcastle and Durham students, along with Durham locals, enjoying the same genre of music in the same place. As Scott said, “Nova is not strictly a student night and neither is Fabio’s. House music should be open to everyone.” Hopefully Nova will continue in the same successful vein that is has opened. Nevertheless, it is not going to be easy. There are the other favourites in Durham: Klute, Studio, Academy and of course Loveshack, and there is always the possibility that Nova in Fabio’s will just be a one trick pony.