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Baby Bear, Big Sound

Baby Bear, Big Sound
David Whittaker, aka Baby Bear, has been part of the Extra Dirty story since ED was just a little fella. He's a good mate of mine, a deadset lovely man and a DJ who never fails to get the dance floor moving. We had a little chat about the journey from then to now, and along the way, I found out some new things about an old mate. 
 
How'd you get into DJing and where did 'Baby Bear' come from?

A mate of mine had a Denon CD mixer and an impressive music library in the mid 90s. He decided one day to quit so he gave me the lot. Before too long I had turntables and a rapidly growing vinyl collection and started harassing promoters for gigs.

You never choose your own nickname. In the 90s I spent a lot of time with a couple who called me Baby Bear for a laugh. So many good times together causing havoc. On the one hand it’s a corny and memorable brand name. On the other hand, the name also carries 25 years of amazing support from my community, which is incredibly humbling. It reminds me not to take it all too seriously. 
 
When and where was your first gig? What do you remember most about it?
 
My first gig was a mate’s 40th on a boat with my DJ buddy Prince Albert. Wonderful party. Played progressive house but as we pulled into the steps in front of the MCA the whole boat could be heard belting out the words to my last track: Diana Ross, The Boss. An unforgettable disco moment.

First club gig was at a Ffierce party I think in 1997 (awesome hard house and trance parties) at Kinselas. I played progressive house to close the Middle Bar, which was heaving. The last track I stole from Kate Monroe – 'Sunchyme'. Took the roof off – and blew up the sound system. Love a big finish.

What’s your favourite genre of music? Do tech sounds find their way into other genres you play?

Jeez, tough question. I started with house but techy stuff was always prominent. I love techno but in Sydney (outside of ED) there aren’t enough queer places to play it properly. I also love playing gospel and classic house. The punters are loving tech house these days, which references the 90s Trade sounds (Alan, Steve, Tony, Ian, Jo) of blending house vocals and basslines with tougher beats. I can be as cheezy as anyone but I’m always looking to surprise and, in my own way, share a little of the amazing wonder of music. I guess I have many concubines, all very much cherished.

You took a break from DJing for a while. What were you up to and what brought you back to the decks?

In the mid 2000s the hard house scene ran outta steam and I took a break to focus on my day job. But one day I went along to Extra Dirty and heard Sveta, Mandy and you smashing out this deep driving music at 128bpm.  The crowd was going nuts. I thought I have to play at this party. I put a mix together and sent it to Mandy. She rang me back and invited me to play at the monthly Dirty @ Phoenix. Tragically Mandy passed away just before my first Extra Dirty in late 2010. I still to this day feel enormously privileged every time I play ED. Such an amazing collective of people.

Got a favourite dance floor memory, either as a DJ or a punter?

As a punter, my first visits to Trade (Tony de Vit, Ian M) at Turnmills in London and the Paladium (Junior Vasquez) in New York blew my mind – these had a big impact on me. As a DJ, I’ve had some cracking moments but if I had to choose, I’d have to probably say the Hordern Pavilion for Sleaze Ball many years ago – who knew you could bang out hard house at 150bpm to 5,000 frenzied queers and friends? Mind blowing. ED last June closing the big room was very special too. 

We’ve both been around long enough to see dance music go through many iterations. Looking into your crystal ball, where do you see dance music is going in 2023?

The only thing I know is wherever it’s going it’s probably not where you think. If you ask where would I like it to go, I’d like it to get a little sexier. (MF: Cheers to that)

What are you most looking forward to during WorldPride?

Seeing old friends, having a beer and laugh. Playing some tunes, doing my small part to help people celebrate and share their pride.

What’s currently on high rotation on your Spotify?

Latin pop. To help keep up my Spanish and just cause it rocks.

What’s ya poison?

Beer. Buy me beer.

What’s something you never fail to have in your refrigerator?

Champagne

Five words to describe what we can expect from you at Tribe.

Taking us back to Phoenix.  (MF: Very nice). 

 

Thanks David, it's always such a pleasure to chat with you. And thanks for being such a huge part of ED. Respect and love mate. Mx 🙏 

 

BUY TICKETS TO TRIBE HERE

 

TRIBE : The ED community closing party to WorldPride

Friday 3rd March / 9pm - 4am / Kinselas - Taylor Square Darlinghurst

Written by : Mel Feisty Fitzpatrick