If you were to ask most folks in Plymouth “where is Courtnay Street” they probably wouldn’t know, but ask them where the Noahs Ark Pub is and they could tell you in an instant.
Courtnays is the space above the Noahs Ark, its still there now available to hire as a function room.
“a pint of snakebite and black please”
A friend of mine was out for an 18th Birthday and had been taken to Courtnays by his friends and introduced to the rite of passage that is having a pint of Snakebite.
A few weeks latter on a night out with my friend he suggested we go for a pint of Snakebite in the place above the Noahs, I remember walking in standing at the bar and hearing Theme From S-Express playing, That track was massive at the time so whilst I loved it (and still do) I expected the DJ to play another chart hit right after, but he didn’t, he played a load of stuff I’d never heard of, he played some tunes I’d only read about in Jocks magazine, and he mixed the records!
That guy was DJ Hurry AKA Simon Debruin, a pioneer of the Plymouth scene.
Stumbling across someone playing this kind of stuff in early 88 in Plymouth was mindblowing!
Its probably hard for anyone under the age of 40 to understand what it really meant to have nothing going on in your town/city. Back in the mid-late 80’s (unless you were living in a major city) there were no cool bars, no clubs devoted to underground music, damn you were lucky if there was even a shop to buy some underground music.
To Paraphrase a line in Last Night A DJ Saved My life “the best you could hope for on a night out was fight and a kebab”
And from my perspective/experience apart from what was going on at Courtnays that more or less sums up how the club scene was here in Plymouth (until Zena’s and the Rave Scene hit).
Courtnays wasn’t only a place to hear upfront music it was a place to meet like minded people, people you were not likely to meet in The Tube, Boobs, or even downstairs in the Noah’s.
Courtneys was the place to be.
Simon has kindly answered some questions about his time as DJ at Courtnays.
1: When did you start Djing? Did you do the bedroom DJ thing? Was Courtnays the first place you played out at?
i started DJing when my parents got the Noahs ark in 1986 .i
I have always been into music,when we lived in the Brook Inn my father used have a band on every saturday night and they used to get pissed and leave everything and come and pick it up the next day, so i knew every sunday morning i could go and get funky on the drums before the band came to pick all their gear up sunday morning .
Thats where my interest of drums began.
I suppose i was a bedroom DJ. Hours and hours of learning to mix spent in a empty Courtnays night club ,driving my mum and dad mad. So I had more of a club than a bedroom to learn/practice in. I was lucky!
Courtnays was the first place where i played to the public the old DJ left and there was a spot for me. Thank you i took it.
2: When did you start at Courtneys?
I started playing to the crowd in 1986 but started (practicing) on the decks in 85.
3: How did you get started playing at Courtney’s? What was going on there before you took over the decks?
Before I started there they we playing the whole cheese thing, the same old crap.
Then i came along and funked things up.
I used to go to london and buy my tunes that way nobody had the tunes i did.
We had a good posse here in the Plymouth Underground.
I always remember you parker and all the Fresh Connection crew coming into Courtnays when i came back from london with the tunes dancing we had the club to ourselves.
4: The music you played was mainly Hip Hop and House, at that time in Plymouth were there any other venues/nights in Plymouth playing that kind of music? Apart from the odd token crossover hip hop/house track I personally wasn’t hearing the any underground stuff away from Courtnays, that said I’d only just started going out so there might have been good stuff going on else where I wasn’t hip to.
I don’t think there was any underground hip hop tunes being played anywhere else in plymouth i think I had it contained. i remember you guys coming down and getting jiggy with it.
i used to go to the malt house there was a DJ called andy who used to play the odd hip hop track and some underground house on a sunday night then everyone used to go to Rockafellas till 12am.
5: How did the scene build at Courtneys? Did you do flyers/posters? or did it just spread word of mouth. My friends and I literally just stumbled across your nights there, and couldn’t believe what we were hearing!
I never did flyers just word of mouth.
6: Was it just you DJing at you nights or did you have guests?
I would always play on my on there as there were not many underground DJ’s about.
I think most DJ’s at that time was finding there feet so to speak.
Going back to Rockafellas DJ’s like Jeff Vandicke (Apache) were coming in to the dance scene but we sort of kept our cards to our chest’s.
Henry Oxford was the DJ at Rockafellas and he used to play mixed tapes which i thought were amazing i kept asking him would did these tapes but would never tell me this went on for a long time. I got it out of him in the end and it turned out to be ribbz , the story continues .
Which records to you most closely associate with your time at Courtnays?
Stetsasonic / Talkin All That Jazz
Eric B and Rakim / Paid In Full
Bob James / Take Me To The Mardi Gras
James Brown / Funky Drummer
Blood Sweat And Tears / Spinning Wheel
Here are my three tunes I most closely associate with Courtnays:
Fast Eddie / Acid Thunder
Sugar Bear / Dont Scandalise Mine
Mark The 45 King/ The 900 Number.