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game of drones Top Ulster DJs put their fans in a 'trance' during pandemic playing live sets at iconic beauty spots

The DJs use decks and drones to play from top beauty spots

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NITF at Titanic Belfast

NITF at Titanic Belfast

NITF at Glenoe waterfall

NITF at Glenoe waterfall

NITF at Belfast Castle

NITF at Belfast Castle

NITF at Carrickfergus Castle

NITF at Carrickfergus Castle

NITF at Helen's Bay

NITF at Helen's Bay

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NITF at Titanic Belfast

Ulster’s dance DJs are fighting back by putting the rest of the world in a ‘trance’ over our most iconic tourist spots.

The Northern Ireland Trance Family (NITF) came up with a way of not only showcasing the music of the finest trance DJs in the world during lockdown – but also of showing off sites like Mussenden Temple, Carrickfergus Castle, Belfast Castle and the Titanic Slipways.

With nightclubs closed for the last 16 months and no sign of them being able to reopen anytime soon, the flourishing trance scene took matters into their own hands.

Armed with a set of decks, a DJ booth, some speakers and some drone cameras, they came up with the ingenious idea of the ‘Set the Scene’ live sets at our most beautiful locations also including Gleno Waterfall, Helen’s Bay and Scrabo Tower.

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Hugh Kirkpatrick of  Northern Ireland Trance Family (NITF) came up with a way of not only showcasing the music of the finest trance DJs in the world during lockdown  but also of showing off sites like Mussenden Temple, Glenarm Castle and the Titanic Slipways

Hugh Kirkpatrick of Northern Ireland Trance Family (NITF) came up with a way of not only showcasing the music of the finest trance DJs in the world during lockdown but also of showing off sites like Mussenden Temple, Glenarm Castle and the Titanic Slipways

Hugh Kirkpatrick of Northern Ireland Trance Family (NITF) came up with a way of not only showcasing the music of the finest trance DJs in the world during lockdown but also of showing off sites like Mussenden Temple, Glenarm Castle and the Titanic Slipways

The response from the public and from people across the world has been overwhelming. And they have just been granted permission to give Stormont a taste of their own special medicine.

“We’ve just been given the green light to perform here next Saturday night and we couldn’t be more thrilled,” says promotor and NITF co-founder Hugh Kirkpatrick.

“It’s pretty ironic that we will get to perform on the steps of Stormont where the politicians have left my industry to the very last when it comes to coming out of lockdown.

“I think it will send a message; it will be a statement to those on the hil, so we are delighted to be playing here.”

Pre-pandemic, Hugh’s job as a trance promotor was full time and regularly sold out dance nights at Belfast club Plastik, formerly El Divnos.

“The dance music scene before lockdown was fantastic,” says the 33-year-old. “Northern Ireland has some of the best trance DJs in the world but we regularly brought in international DJs to play at Plastik.

“The biggest event I was involved in was when we sold out 3,500 people at Custom House Square, not long before the pandemic hit.

“I was living my dream – making a living from organising trance events in clubs all over the country.

“When the pandemic hit, our music world just collapsed overnight. I know a lot of DJs and support workers suffered mental health issues and struggled to pay the bills.

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“I had to sign on for several months and was lucky to get a job in the transport industry just to put food on the table and pay the mortgage.”

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Ulsters dance DJs are fighting back by putting the rest of the world in a trance over our most iconic tourist spots.
The Northern Ireland Trance Family (NITF) came up with a way of not only showcasing the music of the finest trance DJs in the world during lockdown  but also of showing off sites like Mussenden Temple, Glenarm Castle and the Titanic Slipways

Ulsters dance DJs are fighting back by putting the rest of the world in a trance over our most iconic tourist spots. The Northern Ireland Trance Family (NITF) came up with a way of not only showcasing the music of the finest trance DJs in the world during lockdown but also of showing off sites like Mussenden Temple, Glenarm Castle and the Titanic Slipways

Ulsters dance DJs are fighting back by putting the rest of the world in a trance over our most iconic tourist spots. The Northern Ireland Trance Family (NITF) came up with a way of not only showcasing the music of the finest trance DJs in the world during lockdown but also of showing off sites like Mussenden Temple, Glenarm Castle and the Titanic Slipways

Hugh says there has been some good work from some people like DJ Tez who campaigned for Stormont to do more to support the dance industry but while some have been able to avail of funding, many have slipped through the cracks.

Hugh, whose brother Shugz is one of the rising starts of the NI trance scene, says he and his mates were doing a lot of cycling during the first lockdown to keep themselves sane and they came up with the idea of taking DJs out on the road.

“We were floating ideas about how we could stay relevant and keep the music going and we thought what better way of doing this than staging live shows in our best beauty spots

“It was really for the mental health of everyone involved. DJs need to showcase their music so we came up with Set the Scene.”

The first event took place last year on Carnmoney Hill, Newtownabbey, and went down so well with their subscribers they just kept trying out new spots and with different DJs.

“Obviously we couldn’t have a live crowd but there was nothing stopping us setting up and playing live sets,” says Hugh.

“All we needed to bring was a wee generator, some decks, a speaker some GoPro cameras and some drones for the overhead shots.

“We set up a DJ booth and away we went. They are all recorded live and then edited and posted online.

“Some events have been easy to just set up while others like the Titanic Slipway set we needed a lot of permissions from various stakeholders but we got there and they were delighted with how it made the site look.

“The response has been unbelievable. Between Facebook and YouTube we’ve had over 250,000 views and the comments have been so supportive of what we are doing.

“We have had comments from Argentina, America and even Australia from people saying they are loving the look of the Northern Ireland countryside.

“It’s a great boost for the tourist industry here as well as giving our DJs a space to showcase their talents during a very difficult period.”

Northern Ireland’s top trance DJs didn’t need much persuasion to get on board and the likes of Bryan Kearney, Sneijder, Billy Gilles, Maria Healy, Renegade and Shugz have all taken part.

In total they have made 16 episodes, which are all available online, and now Hugh is hoping they will be able to continue their success at Stormont and some day soon be allowed to bring a live crowd to the events.

“It looks like it’s going to be a while until nightclubs will be allowed to reopen so we will have to continue making the best of a bad situation.

“I honestly think it has been a roaring success for everyone involved. It’s win-win all round. For the DJs who just need to play live and the fans who just want to hear live music.

“We are buzzing about getting to play with Stormont as the backdrop, we can’t wait.”

Check out NITF on facebook.com/nitrancefamily for full sets and further details of upcoming events.

steven.moore@sundayworld.com

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