Fortitude Valley is a highly competitive area to establish a club — most clubs rarely last beyond their first five years.
As Electric Playground hypes for its second birthday with The Ultimate Birthday Party next weekend, Wayne Wakefield looks back with his newly-blushing bride and business partner Hollie Paterson on a decade with Boom Entertainment; reflecting on ten years of survival in one of Queensland’s most ruthless industries.
Unlike Brisbane’s other establishments, Wayne stands out in his own right as DJ Wahoo who dared to dream a dream and take the risk to open his own club. Wayne has defied the odds: starting out as a V8 racing car driver he changed tracks to become a DJ and open the now iconic dayclub Boom, before establishing Planet that has evolved into the Electric Playground and Magic City of today.
“I first started clubbing at The Hamilton Hotel,” Wayne recalls. “Music-wise it was a normal nightclub: playing anything from rock to dance. It was my brother Gavin (aka DJ Kandi Kane) who found the dance music before me. He took me from pop music to dance. Gavin was going to The Beat and we always used to compare songs with each other. Gavin opened my eyes to dance music, but I thought his stuff was too hard at 150-160BPM. It was Wild FM that was my proper introduction to dance music – not too many people had their hands on this and it was great music back in the day.”
But it was seeing Carl Cox in The Boiler Room at the 2001 Big Day Out that really changed everything for Wayne. “From that day forward, it was all about dance music — hearing that sound system. The Boiler Room has that tag: the production was spot on; the lights matched the show and I loved the way it hit the DJ. It was like my blinkers had been taken off — it changed the way I looked at music,” Wayne recollects. “Not long after, Andy Macca and I started going to The Beat and to Central Station Records — even though I didn’t own a record player.”
In what is now The Thirsty Camel, Boom opened as a day club in 2001, catering to hard dance lovers. When The Healer closed on Warner St, Boom took over. But times were a-changing. By 2006, the day club was sliding fast.
“Boom just couldn’t do it anymore — Macca and I were struggling,” Wayne remembers. “Hard dance had nosed over, and as much as we loved it with all of our hearts, it had had its time. The rules of the Valley had changed. We didn’t think we’d have the chance, but we put our necks on the line, took out the license and took the risk. We just believed.”
When Planet opened, Wayne remembers that’s when “shit got real — everything was serious now. We just had no idea what we were signing up for.”
Since then, he’s seen LMFAO, 50 Cent, Chris Brown, Rihanna, Eddie Halliwell, Roger Sanchez, John ‘00’ Fleming, Aly & Fila, Tritonal, Signum, Sean Tyas and a plethora of superstar artists parade through his doors.
Wayne and Hollie know they will always have the odds stacked against them, but looking back on ten years in the business sees them extremely proud of Boom’s achievements. “We aren’t trying to be trendy. You don’t have to act a certain way or be a certain way. Music is all encompassing — it’s for everyone. We make it so that everyone has access to the music. That’s why the after parties represent us best: it’s real. It’s not about pretty makeup and ‘I-just-went-and-paid-$300-for-such-and-such-a-singlet’. It’s all about the music. That’s why our after parties are epic.
“It’s been a rollercoaster. We’ve nearly fallen off the tracks so many times, but we’re still here. We live, eat, sleep and breathe our business. It’s tough, but it’s music. When you stand there and hear the production and see that room full while everyone’s lining up down the street, you think, ‘wow, we did this’. The minute you come through that door, you may not know us, but you will love us.”
Electric Playground celebrates its second birthday on Saturday May 26. electricplayground.com.au