Turning the tables: Newcastle favourite Groovy Disco Tech turns five

We spoke to the creators of our much loved Tuesday night

Groovy Disco Tech – or GDT, as it’s fondly known as to students around the Toon – has come a long way from its humble beginnings in the basement of M.S.A (more commonly known now as Studio). Now the only weekly fixture at World Headquarters, GDT has truly cemented itself as the biggest music led weekly student party in Newcastle. And now, GDT is celebrating it’s fifth birthday in the Toon.

For GDT co-owner, DJ and ex-Northumbria student, Ross Clough, it was his first festival experience at Creamfields that made him want to pursue music: “I saw DJ EZ play on the screen and I just turned to my pal and went, ‘I want to do that!’. So as soon as I got home, I ordered some decks and started mixing in my bedroom.”

Similarly, GDT founder Wes Allmark has always loved dance music. Friends describe Wes as a “business man through and through”, graduating from Newcastle University in 2020 with a Masters in Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship. 

The two friends met after Wes started GDT in his second year at Newcastle, employing Ross as a DJ. He quickly saw Ross’s potential as a business partner after showcasing his skills in both promoting himself as a promising DJ and his ability to bring punters in.

Prior to GDT, the pair both gained experience by working for other event companies and running their own nights, before deciding to branch out on their own. When speaking about their success, Ross said: “A lot of club nights do fail. We’ve had club nights that have failed, it is really hard. But, to make GDT a weekly favourite and maintain our loyal community, we’ve just pushed what we believe in: Good music, being nice to people and treating people well.”

GDT is one of the more affordable nights for students, with tickets starting at just £1.49. The owners have previously expressed their discomfort towards those who resell their tickets for more than the purchase price. They stated that it was “against their ethos”, after students were reported to be reselling their tickets for this year’s Halloween event for up to £45. 

When asked about their proudest moment so far, they said: “Selling out NX. We sold 2,000 tickets, when 12 months ago we were only doing 300 tickets in Studio’s basement. It makes us so proud to see how far we’ve come in a year.”

But this hasn’t been without its challenges. The owners looked back on the uncertainty of Covid and what this meant for the future of their event: “We had an 18 month layoff, we thought everyone would forget what GDT was and we’d lose all of our network. There was a huge fear of the unknown”. However, the pair now acknowledge Covid as one of the catalysts for their success: “It created a level playing field for us with all the bigger event companies; everyone was starting fresh.”

In regards to GDT for the remainder of the academic year, the owners teased semesterly headliners after the positive reception of “GDT XXL” – a supersized version of the weekly event with bigger artists – hosted in NX. They also noted that they want to go “back to their roots” by doing some downsized nights in smaller venues, in the hopes to reignite the intimacy that Studio brought the event in its infancy. 

Their biggest goal at present is to expand nationally, after already launching GDT in Durham with plans to debut in Leeds. Ross says one of his biggest inspirations is Cirque du Soul, who he has worked with before in previous years: “They tour the UK with different headliners in each city, and that’s exactly what we want to do with GDT – as well as remaining weekly in Newcastle.”

So what about the more distant future? Ross said: “Me and Wes have this debate all the time. I think with the way things are going at the moment, we’re in it for the next five to ten years. We both love running events and we love DJing. So I don’t think we’ll ever hand the reins over to anyone. It will finish when it finishes… or it will take us on to something even bigger and better.”

Happy five years of grooving Newcastle students, and we’ll see you at the birthday party tonight.

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