Party on High

Oakenfold, his team and the crowd partying at the Everest Base Camp. Photo Courtesy: Anton Nelson (AHTOH)Kathmandu

Thirty years ago British DJ-producer Paul Oakenfold was one of the forces to change the course of the British club culture — with three other friends Oakenfold went to holiday to Ibiza (Spain) and came back with the idea to bring about Britain’s acid house revolution.

On April 11, he marked the 30th anniversary of electronic music and when he went to Ibiza. He did so in quite a unique way — he took electronic music to the highest level possible on Earth as he hosted the ‘highest party on the earth’ at Everest Base Camp at the height of 17,600 feet.

“It is a big deal. Thirty years later, we are doing a unique and wonderful show. That is really amazing for me. It is incredibly special,” he shared of his experience.

The 53-year-old is the first to do so while inventorying to the performances on the Great Wall of China to sold-out shows in Hollywood Bowl in California (USA) to tours with Madonna and U2. “It was a different kind of show.”

Oakenfold played to 300 people for four hours. He expressed, “It was very difficult but it was very special. It was a very international crowd. Some people danced, some people had no breath to dance.”

In terms of the sound system, “I was worried because it had never been tested at such a high altitude,” he said, pointing out, “We didn’t know if the sound system would work. No one knew. We had to keep it warm. We knew that music has to be a little slower because people couldn’t breathe.”

‘The challenge was worth the reward,’ says British DJ Oakenfold who threw a party at Everest Base Camp to mark 30th anniv of electronic music as well as throw light on Nepal and her women and children

The party was all the more special as it had a charitable aspect to it. They are supporting two charities of Nepal — Supporting Nepal’s Children and Himalayan Trust and two of England’s —Youth Music and Mayor London’s Fund.

“We did it because it was an opportunity to raise money for four charities, to shed light on Nepal and for people in the West to understand what the local people went and are going through because of the earthquake (Gorkha Earthquake 2015) and to support the infrastructure,” he revealed.

This gig is a part of Soundtrek series — series of adventures to the world’s most awe-inspiring locations to showcase music cultures from around the globe, starting with Mt Everest. It is the brainchild of night club owner Mark Brimblecombe who roped in his friend Oakenfold two years ago. Meanwhile Josh Heffler and Matt Ward are their other partners.

As per Brimblecombe, “Because of what happened with the earthquake, that kind of led us into the concept and idea we could do to give back as well as throw a party — hopefully we could bring awareness in people for charity and we are trying to help.” It wasn’t a money making exercise but “about bringing awareness”.

Oakenfold took it as “a challenge”. “I didn’t know if I could do it. For the first time I asked myself a question, ‘Can I do this?’ And I did it. Usually I think I can do everything and I’d do it honestly. If I am going to do it, I have to make it. If I don’t make it, the show is not going to happen,” he elaborated. He thought he was “going to do it because it is a great thing to do for everyone”.

“We didn’t have to do this, we chose to do this,” added Oakenfold. He and Brimblecombe had no trekking experience but from training themselves to sacrificing drinks for months, they took up the challenge. And “the challenge is worth the reward”.

In the bigger picture, it is shedding light on Nepal and its tourism, earthquake, women and children. “This is not about raising this and finish it, this is ongoing,” Oakenfold said.

As per him, this work will snowball when they will go to their respective places, and their upcoming documentary about the gig will help and inspire to raise more money.

And while gearing up for Nepali New Year’s Eve, he said, “We can put our hands up now and say ‘We’ve done it’. It was difficult but we did it.” And their previous night (April 12) was “so hard because your emotions are fulfilled — something we have been working on with our team for two years. It is very emotional. I realised it yesterday. We were all drained, we were all happy… we were going through a lot of emotions.”

Why did it work?

“It worked because it is a team — it is not one man. This couldn’t have happened without the team,” answered Oakenfold who is taking back memories of people, amazing scenes, the laughter with friends and children he met during the trek.

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