Nancy Noise brought Ibiza home

She was one of ‘The Walworth Road girls’, the angelic urchins mixing it with the international jet trash of Ibiza’s legendary open-air Amnesia in 1987. When a bunch of likeminded Ibiza veterans imported the sunshine and pills formula into dreary old London, Nancy Turner became Nancy Noise. Armed with a plastic bag of records, she showed herself to be a DJ of sensitivity and deep music knowledge, not least because while her mates were going doolally in Amnesia she had made time to obsessively note down the wild and weird records Alfredo and Leo Mas were playing. Haunting Rough Trade and the Virgin Megastore, she amassed the Balearic canon and employed it to great effect at The Future and Spectrum. ‘I didn’t really want to be a DJ, I just had loads of records,’ she told i-D in 1990. Today she’s one of the finest, with a forward-looking Balearic style that still owes a huge debt to those formative years.

interviewed by Bill in London 9.3.18, main pic Dave Swindells, all others from Nancy’s collection

Nancy in San Antonio in 1987

When was the first time you went to Ibiza?
I went there in 1984 but that doesn’t really count, we just went on holiday twice. I was quite young then and stayed in San Antonio. I met a gang of people from Stoke – striking miners who’d gone out to Ibiza as workers. But I saved up and went back there for the whole summer in May 1986. I rented an apartment with three mates, Tanya, Michelle and Joanne, who is Lisa Loud’s sister. Over that summer my sister Katie came out a lot and also Lisa and her boyfriend.

What did you do when you were there?
We were just hanging out. We’d saved up quite a bit of money through the winter and paid rent on this flat for four months: May, June, July, August, and then we moved into another flat for September. We were dossing around really. I did try a few jobs but I didn’t really do much.

Had you started DJing by then?
No I wasn’t a DJ. I was just a person going out there to have fun.

Did you go to any clubs?
When we first got there we were only in San Antonio so we were just going around the West End and then was Extasis, Star Club, Es Paradis. There were lots of drunk people, people snogging and handbags! It really wasn’t our scene. We found Cafe Del Mar first and then got invited out to this night with all the workers and they were bit older than us and we went round all the West end and then the last club we ended up at was Amnesia.

It was really late and turning from night to day. We walked in and we were like, ‘Oh my God!’. Couldn’t believe it. Open air, loads of lovely looking people. Colourful characters. That was it! That’s when we started going every single night. We’d hitch up there, or if anyone had a motorbike… We didn’t have money for cabs or anything. To get in free you had to go early, so we’d get there at like 1am or something and it would be empty. I’d be standing there, hovering around. Sometimes it would just be me and one other person, or there might be five people or a few crews. There were swings in there in 1986: a small one that went over the dancefloor and another one on a tree around the back. There was a room with cushions in it and different areas and we’d just hang out.

What music would be playing?
I wasn’t taking much notice. I fell in love with it because it was so eclectic and in London it was mainly jazz-funky soul, then rare groove. I worked with Pete Waterman. We had an office with a hi-NRG record label. I’d go to those nights, with Divine, so I’d been to loads of clubs, but different genres in each place. Amnesia was all different stuff in one night. A lot of pop. Loads of things we didn’t know. Liaisons Dangereuses ‘Los Ninos Del Parque’, which was European new beat-y sounding. The Clash, The Cure and because I got in there early it was quite floaty. They might throw in a bit of jazz-funk that we knew from London and some house.

Getting in there early was great, though, cos you got to see the night grow. Each night would be different and we’d discovered it not long after it had opened that year, and we watched it as the whole summer changed. After a while it got busy every single night. It was the club that workers from other clubs would come to, like the dancers from Pacha and the Loca Mio people would come in there in ’86. They were a band, I didn’t know they were a band, I just thought they were really cool, with people with big shoulders and long shoes, and they had fans, quite mad clothes. In ’86, so many people people dressed in mad things, I’ve got photos somewhere. A guy with Barbie dolls coming out of his hair. It was the same DJs throughout the whole summer: Leo Mas and Alfredo. That was it. No guests. I don’t even think there were any PAs. They played the same music all the way through the summer. It was like Balearic brainwashing! I loved it. In ’86, it was ‘Woman of the World’, by Double, Art of Noise ‘Paranomia’, ‘Love Can’t Turn Around’, The Cure.

Were there loads of records you loved but had no idea what they were?
Yeah. ‘Would I Find Love’ by Dizzi Heights was one of the biggest tunes that summer. I never spoke to them in ’86. I wasn’t someone who hung around by DJs. But I used to wander over and peek over the side to see if I could see the record sleeve. I don’t even remember writing anything down but when I got back to London I remember going to the massive Virgin on Oxford Street and buying ‘Would I Find Love’ on 12-inch in there, Jeffrey Osborne’s ‘Soweto’ which was a big record I found in there. When I got back I started working for my friend’s record label and my boss mentioned the label Teldec and I must’ve clocked the sleeve of this tune ‘Too Much’ by Hong Kong Syndikat. And I was like Teldec?! Can you get me a copy of Hong Kong Syndikat? So we rung them and got a load of copies sent over. We actually released that on E&F Records that winter well before Balearic Beat was released. That was one that got played early in the night, but I really loved it.

After the summer in 1986 literally all we spoke about was Amnesia. We were like lunatics. Every time we got together we’d just and talk about it. My mum and dad were like, ‘What is going on?’! I had Amnesia posters on my wall and I had a little underground sign and where there’d be the name of the station I had Ibiza written on it! We all started saving and we had a little crew. There were no mobile phones, so we swapped addresses and home phone numbers and these northern (Sheffield, Manchester, Corby) guys we got on so well with. We’d gone to RAW in the winter. I didn’t know my friends had bumped into some of the boys during the day in Covent Garden so I got there that night and they were there! We’d partied so much together we were all really close. So the crew was quite small the first year but it got bigger the next.

Nancy at Glory’s in 1987 with Vince and John
Lounging at Amnesia, 1987, with Simon and Jo


Then we went back in 1987. The next summer there was a real buzz around San An, and a few more people had turned up that had heard about Amnesia, quite a big Beckenham and Bromley crew. We were talking about Amnesia to them before the first night, and we got there and every single record was different! I turned up waiting to hear the same stuff and every single track was different. It was all amazing but it took a few days to get used to that. That was the year of ‘Jibaro’, Thrashing Doves, Cyndi Lauper and all that stuff. All the house stuff: ‘House Nation’ etc. I met Paul [Oakenfold] in there around August, but we’d been going there every night. And I’d been hanging out with Ian St Paul quite a bit. Him and Trevor [Fung] had The Project bar, and a lot of people used to go there before going up to Amnesia. Ian had a Jeep so I used to get a lift in that quite often and hang out in his apartment. Paul turned up and it was really weird cos I knew Nicky Holloway from London cos I used to go to all the soul things he did at the Royal Oak. So I was dancing around in there and bashed into someone and it was Nicky. What are you doing here?! What do you mean what am I doing in here, what are you doing in here?! I’ve been here for bloody ages. Oh I’m on holiday. He was there with Paul, Danny Rampling and Johnny Wallker. Didn’t really say much to Paul then but then I got invited to his birthday thing in a villa somewhere in the hills and I just remember saying, ‘No I can’t go there because I might miss Amnesia’. Thinking back now, I was a lunatic. I could’ve missed an amazing party but I didn’t care. I just wanted to be in Amnesia. Couldn’t get enough of it.

Was ecstasy evident in ’86?
Towards the end of the summer there were a couple of boys that had it, who had more money than us. A lot of LSD for our lot in ’86 which was just as much fun in Amnesia. ’86 was a lot of talk about it and, ‘Oh my god it’s amazing.’ Then I think in the winter we went to Amsterdam and it was going on there. ’87 was just full ecstasy the whole summer. In ’87 I’m thinking was it powder or pills? When it first came to England it was powder and we were dropping it in Rizlas.

And you brought the vibe home with you?

Yeah. We were having house parties in Essex in 1987 before clubs like Shoom even started.

When did you learn to DJ?
When I came back after that second summer. I met Paul and when I got back I started hanging out with him a bit. I started going to things with him, and he’d come and pick me up, and he came up to the flat and put my records around the room so you could see the sleeves and he said, ‘Who’s are these records?’ ‘Oh, they’re mine.’ This is the stuff I’ve been buying that I heard in Amnesia. That was it.

Then a few weeks went by and he did the night at Ziggys where Alfredo flew over and the police raided it. Bloody nightmare. They found Soundshaft and I think it was people’s birthdays so they had a party. After being together for four months it was a much bigger crew, and we were all desperate to get together as much as we could. So they did the first one with Paul playing and either Paul or Ian or both said, ‘Oh, do you wanna play some records before Paul?’ I said, ‘Er, I don’t know if I can!’ Then I thought, It’s only playing in front of a few friends. I’m sure it’ll be fine.’ So I turned up with a carrier bag with my records in it and did it. Within a few weeks it was packed and magazines were writing about it and I was like, ‘My god, I can’t cope with this!’ I used to send people to find Paul: go find him and tell him I’ve run out of records! He’d say: ignore her, let her sweat. Then he turned up at my flat one day with one those units that mobile DJs used to use. This is for you, you’ve got it for two weeks. There was no varispeed, but I sat on the floor playing my records, thinking oh that Prince one goes well with this. Did that for a few weeks. Couldn’t mix. I actually went back to Ibiza for a month and told Paul I couldn’t cope. Then when I was away I changed my mind and I came back.

In the Soundshaft booth at The Future, with mates Max and Sandra

Was it literally everyone you’d hung out with in Ibiza?
Yeah. The word just spread via friends. My friend Chris Abbot who’d also been to Ibiza said when he was queuing to get in someone in the queue said oh this is an E club! 

Where were the drugs coming from?
Oh god don’t ask me. I think it was something to do with the Sannyasin lot.

When did you know this was going to be massive?
Spectrum. It was empty for weeks and then suddenly one week there were queues all around the block. Lots of people I knew from London who’d found out about it. Word had spread. Future was busy from the beginning. It lasted till about 1990, around two years.

What is acid house’s legacy?
Ecstasy changed a lot of people’s attitudes. I had friends who had racist friends who really changed. It was a lot about love. The style of clubbing that happened in Amnesia, it changed the style of clubbing from what I’d been used to before. It could be a combination of the music and the drugs. More friendly, more open, more friendly. The nights that are happening now come from that.

© Bill Brewster & Frank Broughton