DJ David ‘Rigsy’ O’Reilly was already a resident at Shine. Alan and Phil both ran that club very well. When Alan and Phil decided they wanted to buy and run their own venue – they did just that and named it the Stiff Kitten. DJ David ‘Rigsy’ O’Reilly and his DJ partner Paul McClean agreed to run the Thursday night at the Stiff Kitten.
The whole idea of the venue was really exciting from the start – knowing as they did just how clued in Alan and Phil were when it came to electronic dance music. The first DJ to play the venue was drum n’ bass legend High Contrast – so the bar was set pretty high from the start. Thursday night theme at The Stiff Kitten was called Sketchy – and the opening night (in 2005) featured Colin Murray – then Radio 1 DJ. There was a LOT of crowd surfing. Colin mixed the theme music to BBC Grandstand into the theme from Match of the Day. Maybe that’s when he realised he wanted to stop DJing and be a sports presenter.
At Thursday night Sketchy, the likes of Calvin Harris and Mark Ronson DJing – both were just £5 on the door, which is absolutely crazy. And it’s not like this was before they were famous – both were very well established at the time, the Stiff Kitten just wanted to
keep the door price the same. The night Mark Ronson played was particularly crazy – he ended up going to the Emerald for a chippy, then to the Holylands for a party! He told Q Magazine it was the best night he’d ever had DJing, which was pretty cool. Other nights featured the likes of Skrillex, 2manyDJs, Richie Hawtin and Disclosure.
At Sketchy, DJ David ‘Rigsy’ O’Reilly and DJ Paul McClean operated a pretty loose, anything goes approach to DJing. So there was always plenty of curveballs and playing everything from Toto to Hall & Oates, Darude to Biggie Smalls – mixed in amongst a load of house and hip hop.
The staples were always the type of rock / rave crossover stuff – so back in the old days that would have been called ‘electro’ or ‘Nu Rave’. But the music was all over the place. Either ‘eclectic’ or ‘a shambles’ depending on how you look at it. The one request that sticks out is a music fan asked for a fish supper while bobbing the night away.
the Stiff Kitten was always loud and sweaty. And the antithesis of the majority of clubs in Belfast, in that there was a really mixed crowd, no daft dress codes and very little posing. Everyone ended up as a hot mess at the end of the night. The spirit of Stiff Kitten lives on with Shine – which is enjoying something of a purple patch these days, a total renaissance. Shine has welcomed the likes of Green Velvet, Ben Klock, Jackaster and local heroes Bicep.