David Robson: Me, myself and I

The XXL DJ David Robson goes out in South London, longs to head Down Under and loves a live concert.

Where are you from originally?

Darlington, North East England. As seen on BBC 3’s Rent A Cop, for which I am so very sorry.

And where do you live now?

Are you asking for my address? This isn’t Grindr! Contrary to popular belief I don’t share my location on the second question. Next…

What do you love about London? 

I’ve been in love with London for as long as I can remember. Ever since my grandad told me stories of what he got up to when he was working down here in the 1960s. Home will always be home but it could never tame me. London feeds my curiosity and adventure. It can overstimulate me at times but there is nowhere else I feel totally free.

What was the first gay venue you visited?

Back in 2001. It was a gay night back home called Berlins that was run by the town’s LGBT centre. I had to be pushed down the stairs as I was so nervous to walk in. But once I got in, I never looked back.

Favourite club/bar/venue in London and why?

It all depends on who’s employing me at the time. I suppose I’d say my regular haunt at the moment is The Bridge in Clapham. I love a good chinwag with manager Flo and she makes the best Bloody Marys. I also love the Retro Bar, RVT and, of course, XXL. And the Vauxhall Griffin does the best Sunday dinners.

What was the last theatre show you saw, where, and what did you think of it?

I thought Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre was wonderful.

What is your guilty pleasure and why?

Simply Red. They’re actually a very good soul group. No shame at all. Simply Red and proud! Did you know that their name reflects their political leanings? You do now.

Biggest extravagance? 

I see a lot of concerts at the O2. I don’t think it’s extravagant but others do. I’ve always loved seeing musicians live; that’s when they come alive. Off the top of my head I’ve seen Madonna (15 times), Tina Turner, Cher, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Mariah, Morrissey, Kate Bush, Kylie, Prince, Lionel Richie, Britney, Gaga, Alicia Keys, Beyonce, J Lo, Fleetwood Mac, Paul McCartney and many more.

Best gift you’ve ever received and why?

A rather wonderful (and very handsome) man flew me business class to Las Vegas to see Diana Ross. I grew up watching a VHS (pre-YouTube, kids) of her performing at Caesars Palace, so it was a real dream come true to be there. While we were there I did offer to marry him to say thanks, but he politely declined. Then we had an argument in the McDonald’s on the strip. Happy days.

What has been the highlight of your career so far and why? 

Out At Clapham opened the Pride Arts Festival back in 2015 with a screening of the movie Pride. Following the movie I chaired a Q&A with the director, producer and members from LGSM (Lesbians and Gays Support The Miners). It is moments like that, a coming together of people, that make all the years of hard work worthwhile. I also love being part of the resident DJs at XXL. It’s the gig of dreams!

If you could go back in time which year would you choose and why?

The 1930s. Oh wait, no need to; we’re already there…

What’s the best party you’ve ever been to and what made it so good?

The best house parties I’ve been to recently are hosted by a couple in Peckham – no, not those ones! Not only are they a great couple and two of my very best friends but they get such a great group of people all coming together behaving disgracefully. I had an incident there once that resulted in breaking a bathroom mirror. Edgy.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

My dear gran once turned to us all and shouted “Listen, I can’t pull out a better cock than the one I’ve got.” That stays with you. That and “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.”

Who is your LGBT hero and why? 

Peter Staley, a leading activist from ACT UP New York. I met him at an HIV activist workshop in Dalston a few years ago. And Dan Glass, another hero, who I got to thank in person for his work. It’s pretty overwhelming to stand in front of someone who is partially responsible for why you’re alive. If you’ve not seen How to Survive A Plague already, do.

Where in the world would you like to visit before you die and why?

Australia. I know it’s a cliche but it’s always been a dream. Literally, I dream about going all the time. I worry I’d never come back.

What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?

It’ll all be OK. Life has a way of working out the way you want it to. Just be true to yourself.

David is a resident DJ at XXL at Pulse every Saturday night from 10pm. He is also Chair Wandsworth LGBT Forum and Events Coordinator at Clapham Picturehouse.


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