Fatboy Slim – review

House of Commons, Westminster

Who says politicians aren't in touch with the musical tastes and cultural aspirations of the young? No, don't all shout at once. But who better to give the oldies some inter-generational insight and a bit of dancefloor cred than Brighton's superstar DJ, Fatboy Slim? And on the terrace of the stuffy old House of Commons, too. If the Queen can stage a party at her palace, MPs only need a decade to catch up at theirs. Unprecedented.

House music at the House could have been a train crash in countless ways. Some bright spark tweeted that David Cameron had dropped in. It wasn't true, though his cultural bagman, junior arts minister Ed Vaizey, did grace the occasion . Everyone was on their best behaviour and it was all cool and fantastic, as everyone kept saying, even Colonel Bob Stewart, one of the MPs as square as an Oxo cube.

Even the noise level inside the rain-swept marquee remained relatively respectable. "No more than 80 decibels, I'd reckon," said Brummie Liberal Democrat, John Hemming, who is a heavy metal man himself and drummer in the parliamentary jazz band (with Tory Jesse Norman on trumpet).

"I used to play the sax and piano," confided Labour's Emma Reynolds, while Suffolk Tory, Dr Therese Coffey, normally an earnest chartered accountant, swayed to the music. "Therese is a house and indie fan," explained a colleague. Ian Paisley Jnr confessed to a rocker past.

This was just what the organisers wanted: greater rapport between MPs and the creative industries, not to mention intellectual property rights.

Mike Weatherley, a money man in film and music before winning Hove and Portslade for the Tories in 2010, set up a Rock the House competition to encourage MPs to promote local bands. Three years on, 440 MPs take part. Then he launched Film the House, and now House the House to promote talented young DJs.

The bash was to celebrate the winner, a hairy young man called Bryce Fury (actually Bryce Moore) from Corby who is studying electrical engineering at Northumbria University, but will now get an SAE Institute scholarship to learn how to make even louder electronic noise. Bryce was preceded by Fatboy Slim, aka Norman Cook, with Mrs Slim, aka Zoe Ball, working the room, being nice to people. Slim didn't say much; he just exuded DJ charisma. "I haven't actually met him," admitted Weatherley, his MP.

"I've been to meetings with DJs at his house, but he's always been away."

There were other acts, introduced by Shovell – The Drum Warrior, a DJ mostly linked to charitable causes and the Last Night a DJ Saved My Life foundation. It was very wholesome, so sweet you could have used it to sugar your tea. "We are making history tonight," cried Shovell, who was only slightly disconcerted when asked to tell MPs they had to go and vote.

In the Lords, Labour and the crossbenchers defeated the coalition twice. In the Commons, some Tory MPs slowed down the debate to make Gordon Brown wait to stage his latest rare appearance. In Westminster's only tent with chandeliers, the strobe lighting made it all seem far away. Scruffy kids mingled with peers. "Twenty odd years ago MPs outlawed electronic dance music, a friend of mine went to jail. Now we're here, we've come full circle," said an amazed Ryan Callanan of the Squarity Gallery.

Emma Reynolds joined Tories Claire Perry and George Hollingbery dancing with the kids. They did quite well.

Not all MPs were so committed. "I was about to buy my round in the Stranger's Bar when I heard the music. Where there's music, there's free drink, so here I am," said one old lag. Tut, tut.


Michael White

The GuardianTramp

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