Yorkshire – Spiritual home of UK techno?


We’ve all heard about the rise (and fall) of the Hacienda, the well documented acid house parties led by Danny Rampling, and the motorway raves that led to the introduction of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act in ’94.

The history books have mugged off Yorkshire though (Gods own country, don’t you know).

The Orbit in Ossett and Morley helped create the pioneers of techno we know today, and it was, to many, the most important party in the UK techno calendar during the 90s. The reunion party, which will be held at The Warehouse in Leeds tomorrow (2nd May), will expertly combine veteran heavyweights (Dave Clarke) and future pioneers (Happa). The night is especially dedicated to Scotty, a beloved regular and wild character of the parties back in the 90s.

I chatted to co-founder Neil Harston to find out about the highs and lows of Orbit over the years…

We were arsin’ about driving up and down the country in a transit van with a bunch of idiots going to parties. There was no scene around these parts then”.

Originally a hardcore/piano house night, Orbit started in ’91 in a club in Ossett, eventually moving to After Dark in Morley where two parties would run concurrently – the first of its kind according to Mixmag. After two years though, the music policy started to evolve, and some notable figures began flocking.


We booked Grooverider, but he didn’t show. He didn’t take it seriously because it was in Yorkshire. So Evil Eddie Richards stood in. He came with this skinny kid at the time, and it was Richie Hawtin. Nobody knew him at the time. He came with a Plus 8 Records t-shirt on. Eddie said ‘this kid’s gonna be big.’”

Richie Hawtin was just one of many people who made The Orbit their primary stomping ground in the UK.

We had Grooverider and Carl Cox on every month for years. It was almost like an unwritten contract. They used to bring acetates. All the proper music heads used to come because they knew if Grooverider was there, there’d be something they’d never heard.”

We actually put Underworld on before they got signed. We had Derrick May on after them as well. So Derrick May turns up about half past 1, thinking he’s gonna be on at 6 o clock. We had to break the law and just let him do a set. He was bemused to say the least.”

One of the biggest advocates of the club was Sven Väth though, who for years called Orbit his “UK home”. It was the first place Väth would play in the UK, before anyone had even heard his name. Harston had a keen ear for knowing who was going to be big, and in January ’96, lineups included Derrick May, LFO, Robert Hood, Jeff Mills, DJ Hell, Joey Beltram and CJ Bolland.

With lineups as obscene as that, it seems impossible to pick a perfect night…

My favourite night must be Sasha and N-Joi. It was early days at Morley…Scotty, the kid on the back of the latest flyer, used to keep all the flyers at that time. It was rammed as you can imagine. The guestlist was full of other DJs and promoters.”

Be sure to check out the reunion party at The Warehouse in Leeds this Saturday with Dave Clarke and Happa, along with Gemma Furbank (new resident) and Nigel Walker (the club’s veteran resident). It is all in memory of Scotty, a well-loved regular of Orbit who died just last year.

Tickets HERE