The Christmas Dance Music Miracle

Once upon a time, a young, tall and handsome, normcore-styled body builder with no top on chopped logs in the back garden of a three bedroom, semi-detached 1930s house in Northolt. It was December, and as the wind, snow, hail and rain laid pressure down on his bare, peachy, triangular back he stopped swinging his axe for a short pause and a look up at the Heavens. Breathe in. Breathe out. These Technics won’t build themselves.

- Tonka, what on earth are you playing at? Those Technics won’t build themselves!

- Sorry, dad. I was just taking a break. Can I come inside soon? It’s windy, it’s snowing, I’ve got hail all over my back and it’s just started to rain and all!

- Not until you’ve finished the platters. Now come on, don’t tarry. You’re behind as it is!


Tonka’s dad was a cruel, hook-chinned and decrepit miser who spent most of his days cooped up in the loft, counting his hand-crafted collection of fully-functional solid oak turntables. A shiver almost broke the spine of his pock-marked and curled old back as he closed the patio doors in a huff. He crept slowly back through a kitchen floored with original deep cherry parquet tiling and a utensils drawer that, at times, seemed to overflow with utensils. A worn, heretofore shaggy red and black decorative carpet adorned the inside pavement which directs you to a white front door, and if you turn left and up, you’ll find yourself climbing a staircase. Tonka's dad dragged his worn, heretofore shaggy carcass up the flight to the landing. Ignoring the four doors that hid three bedrooms and a bathroom, he looked up with a smirk. Handling a metre and a half of stainless steel pole with ease, Tonka's dad poked the ceiling and caught a small plastic catch. With a twist and a pull, a small, wooden square came away like a little, upside down door. It was the entrance to the loft. Down came a ladder and up went a dad. Click went a switch and a 100 watt bulb illuminated an area the size of a loft in an average 3 bedroom, semi-detached 1930s house. It was the loft.

Solid oak Technics 1210s, varnished. Solid oak Stanton T55 belt drive turntables, varnished. A proud pair of Numark TTX turntables, solid oak and varnished. Two Pioneer PLX-1000s sit side by side next to a pair of Sound Lab G056Cs. All solid oak and varnished: turntables of all makes and model. A classier, more wooden treasury of turntables could not be found in or outside of the London Borough of Ealing. Not that these turntables were on public display. Tonka's dad selfishly kept the set-ups to himself. Each pair of decks had their own Cambridge Audio amplifier, speakers and a modest, yet incredibly effective and stylish Behringer DJX900USB Pro DJ mixer in black. Each rig and DJ set-up sat flush against the walls of the loft, creating a natural dance floor when the ladder was pulled up. Nobody, not even Tonka - his own son - was allowed access to the loft whilst Tonka's dad was using the solid oak turntables. The low rumble of dub sub-bass and the taut, clipped echoes of a 909 closed hi-hat married with a steady 138bpm kick kept the Tonka family - all two of them - awake, day and night whenever Tonka's dad chose to make use of his poorly insulated and secretive, UB5 loft space.

Tonka often wondered how a solid oak turntable could even function without electrical wiring, fuses or basic casing. The turntables he slaved over were solid oak; no outlets or sockets; they were wooden monuments devoid of mechanics of any description. The one time he ever questioned his dad on how he was able to play 8 hour, vinyl only sets in the loft on wheels of wood, he was beaten about the hands so badly with a length of garden cane, he could not play Ableton 8 for three weeks.


Tonka was forced to work outdoors in the winter. Each turntable was carved by hand in the back garden. His only company was the dying apple tree and the sound of his demanding father, coughing, spluttering and barking orders from the warmth of a central heated kitchen. In the blazing hot English summer, Tonka was forced indoors to the industrial heat of the garden shed. Here, Tonka worked by hand and by lathe to finish the 1:1 scale replica ones and twos whilst an open fire roared and soldering irons were left on all day by a dad, Hell-bent and addicted to making his only son suffer by, inexplicably, making him craft imitation turntables for eighteen hours a day in suitably inclement environments. Tonka was now thirty four years old and tired; a young slave, tired of a life spent obedient to a demented, schizophrenic dance master who used his only son as nothing more than a remote controlled solid oak turntable manufacturer. Tonka often turned fruitlessly to prayer.

Christmas Eve arrived on time and with it, Tonka's one day of annual leave. A day of rest when everyone else in Northolt buzzed with excitement. Christmas Eve is the day when Father Christmas sets off on his global journey around every house in the world to deliver presents and joy to all, young and old. Tonka spent every Christmas Eve in bed, resting his biceps and triceps whilst his neighbours outside laughed, sang and skipped their way past his window on the way to Oldfield Circus. It was outside The Codfather on Oldfield Circus where Tonka's dad would deliver his annual speech about who had impressed him in dance music the most that year before his old friend, Emre, gave out cones of chips and ginger beer to the local children.

In 1987, Tonka was one of those children: a proud spectator, beaming as his father extolled the virtues of acid house, hi-nrg and Chicago house to a community only recently adjusted to disco. As Tonka's dad banged his fists on his barrel chest and taunted his front row of families about the death of Northern Soul, a young, barely legal and clearly overcome Tonka fainted and the focus shifted instantly from father to son. This neatly explains why Tonka's dad subsequently entrapped his son into a life of solitude, dedicated to a twin pursuit of making wooden turntables and submitting to a powerful, dance music-loving folly without the emotional strength to fight back.


Laying on his back on a modest, single bed (the same bed Tonka had slept in since the age of two and a half) in a barely decorated box room, Tonka tried to sleep. Clutching the contraband length of tinsel he kept under his pillow all year round, he tried counting sheep but, with only a GSCE E in maths to his name, getting anywhere near the numbers required to trigger rapid eye movement was impossible. It was Christmas Eve and Tonka wanted his Christmas wish to come true. He looked back on his life and grabbed at reasons why he couldn't count enough sheep.

May 1997:

- Nine pounds an hour if you get into tool making, Tonka. Nine pounds an hour.

- But I want to be a writer, dad. I'm not cut out for factory work.

- What you are or are not cut out for is MY concern, not yours. Any talk of sixth form, college or, God forbid, university and I will grab my garden cane faster than you can say 'Miss Moneypenny's'. Understood?

- But dad...

- INSOLENCE! Do you understand?

- Yes, dad.

- Very well. You leave school in a week's time. Before the last chime of the bell leaves your ears I want you knocking on factory doors.

- I don't know any factories around here, dad.

- I have an appointment already lined up for you. On your return from school next week you are to proceed to the end of our back garden and knock four times on the door to our shed where I will answer and 'Project Hard House Infinity' will begin apace.

- 'Project Ha...

- SILENCE! Arrive on time so that we can go through your job specification.


Present day:

Tonka lay in bed and tried prayer again. He begged of God, Jesus, Mary and Joseph their forgiveness for a sin he had trouble placing. Tonka's level of self esteem was such that he was sure his life had panned out as it had through a fault of his own. Whilst listing all of the bad things in life he'd done to deserve being Tonka, his little eye lids began to droop and he was gone. Images came and went in his brain. Strange, water colour illustrations of how he imagined his father would look with a smile. Photographs of Tall Paul, Paul Glazby, Ian M, the Tidy Boys, Anne Savage, Lisa Lashes, Paul Van Dyke and a young Fergie flashed by in frames made of bleeding human ears. The shadow of a long dead hard house DJ appeared and smiled briefly before disappearing into the entrance to Trade, giggling in a loud, West Midlands accent, urging Tonka to follow him. Tonka suddenly saw himself in his dream, skipping towards Turnmills. Who was this mysterious, jolly old hard house DJ with the booming laugh, the sense of unbridled fun and a magnetism so strong it was like standing next to a massive magnet if you were made of metal? No sooner had the bouncers opened the door to Tonka, their faces morphed into that of his father's. They slammed the doors shut with a sneer and a message to, "fuck off back to your Northolt shed, you twat."

Tonka awoke with a start and with tears in his eyes. His body cold and shivering, tear drops freezing on his cheek. Dreams turned to nightmare turned to life turned to nightmare.

- I wish to be awoken from my nightmare. Jesus, if you're listening, I wish to be awoken from my nightmare. Please. I beg of you. I don't want to be Tonka anymore. I wish to be the writer I dreamed of being as a child. I wish to be the managing director of a world famous dance music blog and to interview artists I like and to curate the funniest collection of DJ lookalikes in the world. I wish for these shackles to be cast into the cauldron. Free me, Jesus. Free me. I can't make another solid oak pair of Technics. Grant my wish on Christmas Eve. Please.


Tonka fell back into a light slumber. The wind howled and rattled the room. A sudden warmness embraced his body like smack and rat-a-tat-tat went the window. Rubbing his eyes, Tonka gingerly opened the curtains and laughed heartily - for the first time in years - at what he saw. Floating outside of the window was Father Christmas, arms crossed and feigning annoyance for being stuck out in the cold. Father Christmas tapped on the window again, smiling through his massive white beard and wagging his finger to indicate Tonka was being naughty. He was joking.

Tonka couldn't believe what he was seeing but accepted it nonetheless. He opened the window and beckoned Father Christmas to come in. In response:

- Ho, ho, ho! I'm not coming in there, Tonka. It fucking stinks. You're coming with me.

- With you? But...what...why...what...but...how...but...where?

- I'll show you where when you accept my hand. Come on, hurry up. I've got presents to deliver after this.

Tonka reached out and felt the firm grip of Santa's hand. How he was then transported through the small casement window is a question he'll never know the answer to. Walking in the air, through the clouds, Father Christmas explained:

- Listen, kid. I'm doing a favour for Jesus. He's not able to make it down to see you himself because he's hanging after last nights Heavenly Christmas party at the Gardens of Galilee Weatherspoon's. God stuck three hundred quid behind the bar and, you know Jesus, he's a fucking lightweight.

- Oh. So you're here to grant my wish?

- I am, mate, yes. You wished for the closure of Club Fabric didn't you?

- What? No! Never! Fabric is my favourite nightclub to read about. If you recommend it to be closed my social media timelines will be full of mealy-mouthed, whiny, indignant mud flaps who probably haven't even been to Fabric in years getting all uppity and community conscious.

- I'm fucking joking, Tonka. Nobody is closing Club Fabric. I know what your wish is.

- You do?

- I do. And I'm about to grant it for you.


After half an hour of flying around and an explanation by Father Christmas of what Tonka's life would be like without the presence of a merciless father, Father Christmas and Tonka floated slowly back to the roof of the house. Hopping onto the chimney stack, Father Christmas held Tonka close to his chest and they both jumped up a couple of metres, spinning down the chimney and into the dark, 3am living room - much like Zangief's 360 pile driver move. Creeping across the heretofore shaggy red and black decorative carpet to the bottom of stairs, Tonka and Father Christmas both placed a finger to their lips and walked slowly on their tip-toes in a quiet and extremely exaggerated manner.

Up the flight to the landing, they went. Ignoring the four doors that hid three bedrooms and a bathroom, Father Christmas looked up with a smirk. Handling a metre and a half of stainless steel pole with ease, Father Christmas poked the ceiling and caught a small plastic catch. With a twist and a pull, a small, wooden square came away like a little, upside down door. It was the entrance to the loft. Down came a ladder and up went a Father Christmas and Tonka. Click went a switch and a 100 watt bulb illuminated an area the size of a loft in an average 3 bedroom, semi-detached 1930s house. It was the loft.

Tonka saw for the first time, the fruits of his hard labour. He was amazed.

- Let's get this party started, Tonka. Chuck a record on.

- What? It's the middle of the night, dad will hear and go berserk.

- That's the plan, Tonks. I'm here to grant you your wish. Jesus sent me to make this happen for you. We're going to murder your dad and get you set up with a Google Blogger account.

- Jesus Christ.

- Yes, and Jesus has asked that you name your blog the Weekly Review of Dance Music. It's on, Tonka. Get some fucking tunes going and we'll do this thing.

Father Christmas fist bumped Tonka and they both nodded. Tonka rifled through the first crate of vinyl and picked out Bits & Pieces by Artemesia on Hooj Choons. Placing it gingerly on the wooden platter of the left hand deck of a Technic 1210, he gasped and pressed Start.

Nothing. He pressed it again. No movement. Not a millimetre of vinyl revolution.


- I don't understand it. He uses these decks all of the time. I can hear him every day. I...I...I...I...

- Ho, ho, ho! Tonka, Tonka, Tonka. Solid oak turntables don't power themselves, do they?

- But I've heard them being played! Every day, my father plays sets of hard house, techno, industrial nu-beat, minimal house and dub. Every flipping day! I...I...I...I...I must be going mad.

- Look up, Tonka. You're not going mad. Look up and you'll find what you're looking for.

Tonka looked up. Hanging from a beam was a small, brass urn. Etched crudely, in a child-like fashion to the base in purple Crayola was the legend: TdV's ashes and soul. Do not disturb.

- Your father thinks he owns this secret, Tonka, but Jesus sees all. Release what is inside the urn and we can get this fucking party started.

- How?

- Say the words, Izzy Wizzy, Let's Get Busy three times. Trust in me and Jesus. Say it. Say it now. Time is running out because, as I said earlier, I need to deliver presents to everyone in the world before 6am.

Tonka said the words, Izzy Wizzy, Let's Get Busy thrice and the urn exploded in a ball of flames and glitter. As the smoke cleared, the outline of a man emerged and walked calmly to the Technics 1210 Tonka was previously having trouble with. The mysterious man's hand stroked the Start button and the solid oak turned swiftly and smoothly into a proper plastic and metal Technics 1210 deck that reminded Tonka of the way T-1000 turned into different things in Terminator 2: Judgement Day. The DJ pressed Start and Bits & Pieces began.


- Who...who...who...who...who are you?

The man turned around slowly and revealed himself with a warm, genuine smile.

- I'm Tony. Your DJ for the evening.

The mysterious man who exploded from the hanging brass urn was Tony de Vit. He started nodding and pointing to the loft ceiling as the kick drum started to pound that little bit harder. Father Christmas started to dance. Tonka followed. Suddenly, the ghosts of one hundred dead clubbers appeared from nowhere and the dance floor was heaving. Tonka shared a pill with Leah Betts and just as he started to come up, a loud fatherly roar overcame TdV's brutal-yet-playful hardbag set.

To cut a long story short, what happened next was this: Tonka's dad came up the loft ladder in a rage. Father Christmas, Tonka, Tony de Vit and the ghosts of one hundred dead clubbers murdered him in a savage, tortuous manner: they caved his skull in, pounded his body with punches and kicks and scratches and head butts until he drowned in his own blood. He was spat on and humiliated. Leah Betts then absorbed his carcass, Tony de Vit took his soul and Tonka's dad then became one of the dead clubbing ghosts. Father Christmas left the party to deliver his presents, Tony de Vit continued his 8 hour vinyl only set and Tonka and the ghost of his dead dad got high together. When the party finished, the ghosts - Tony de Vit and Tonka's dad included - returned to the hanging brass urn and Tonka starts Christmas Day by writing his first ever blog post. Later that day, Resident Advisor featured the Weekly Review of Dance Music in their Feed, pushing his first ever post over the six hundred views mark in just one day. Jesus looked down from Heaven and winked, Tonka winked back and gave Jesus a thumbs up.

EPILOGUE

Three and a half years later, we find Tonka living with seven or eight nymphomaniac Page 3 girls in the flat above The Codfather. The Weekly Review of Dance Music is going from strength to strength and his old three bedroom house is now occupied by a family of four, unaware of what hangs in their loft.

The end.

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