By Lee Saunders

Rewind to 2018 when reporter Lee Saunders spoke to DJ Michael Duncan about the Eastbourne nightlife experience, and working in the industry.

In the profession for his whole life, 30 year old Michael Duncan, AKA ‘DJ Dunc’, believes he still has a lot left to give, whether it be in the capital, where he spends most of his time working these days, or back home in Eastbourne, getting students in Cameo and Maxims pumped.

Starting up in local discos in Eastbourne, Michael has gone on to perform in London, at clubs such as the Hippodrome, as well as abroad, naming performances with the likes of Ms. Dynamite as ‘career highlights’. His other claim to fame came when he shared a taxi in Greece with The Only Way Is Essex (TOWIE) stars Joey Essex and “that Sam girl”.

But besides the glitz and glamour, Michael insists he is in the industry for the right reasons, the highlight of which, he told me, is “getting a crowd going and seeing reactions when you put a track on.”

Having performed in front of Eastbourne students for many years, few people witness nightlife antics more than Michael. But when I asked him about the behaviour of students in Eastbourne, he had mainly positive comments to make: “In terms of violence, you see a few scuffles here and there, but it is generally good.

“With drinking, besides the odd exceptions, I think there is less of it these days, particularly drinking in the club.”

This was, however, where the buck stopped for nightlife in Eastbourne. Michael gave an honest assessment of his local town’s nightlife experience, saying that nightclub owners in Eastbourne have failed to improve the clubbing experience in his eyes. He told me: “More investment is needed if Eastbourne’s attraction is to increase.

“There isn’t enough going on. There aren’t enough events.”

And DJ Dunc didn’t stop there. Despite their civilised behaviour, he admitted: “I see a lot of them (clubbers) on their phones, not dancing. I look to the bar and it’s empty because most students buy cheap drinks before they go out.”

He added: “People used to turn up at a club at 8 at night and not leave until 4 in the morning, they made the best of it, hopefully we see the return of something similar.”

He also saw it necessary to reach out to Eastbourne students who may have became disillusioned with nightlife in the area, telling them: “Keep attending, have faith in the nightlife, and hopefully the development of Eastbourne town can bring more people in.”

The development, though, which has now taken place, having been finished in early 2019, has received criticism from residents. The open plan of the new Beacon centre has meant that weather has often caused issues for shoppers and staff, and several chains reported to be opening stores and restaurants have now pulled out.

As well as engagement from the students, Michael spoke about a change in musical preferences at nightclubs in recent years. “The music young people want to hear in clubs is completely different now. I have noticed a change in the last two years. It went from house music to young people wanting mainly grime, or R&B.”

He admitted that this can cause issues at times: ’Sometimes I’ll be in a flow and somebody will request a song that doesn’t fit into that, and if they don’t hear their request straight away, they just leave.”

We also spoke about nightlife culture in general, and the changing landscape for clubbers. “The smoking ban hurt the nightlife business.

“People don’t want to have to go outside for a fag, so they just don’t come,” Michael explained. The ban, introduced in England in July 2007, made it illegal to smoke in all enclosed work places.

All hope is not lost for the Disc-Jockey, though, who insisted: “You are going to get your good nights and bad nights, I will always go with the flow.”

Besides, as Michael explained to me, he has been through worse. Deaths in the family, notably that of his Nan, who “was always very supportive” of his career, naturally made it difficult to have the right mindset to perform. Another low-point came when Michael’s entire CD collection was stolen.

But these set-backs didn’t stop Michael from enjoying his job: “I love music too much, I can never wait to put a track on I’ve heard and see a crowd’s reaction to it,” he explained.

And he told me he would encourage fellow music-lovers to find work in the industry. “Befriend a local DJ, watch and listen to other DJ’s, which is easy with technology these days, but also try to teach yourself, develop your own style and aim higher than the DJ’s you have listened to.”

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