To ravers of a certain age, Tony De Vit is a dance music legend. Born in Kidderminster, he made his name in Birmingham’s Nightingale Club and then later London’s Heaven, becoming one of the most influential DJs ever in the process. He is best known for taking hard house (a speedy style of house filled with offbeat bass stabs, hoovers and horns) out of the gay scene into mainstream clubs.
Sadly, too few of us were able to see Tony De Vit perform live. At the height of fame, he died in 1998, at age 40, after contracting HIV. Unlike his peers, his name has fallen slightly into obscurity among younger audiences. But a new documentary, Don’t Ever Stop, aims to bring new attention to his incredible life.
Described as “a tale of love, loss, gay identity, hero worship, attitudes to AIDS and the 90s boom in dance music”, Don’t Ever Stop tells the story of Tony De Vit, Fergie – a 15-year-old budding DJ in a small town in Northern Ireland – and Andi Buckley, who had been kicked out of school but had begun to work in the dance music industry. This documentary tells the story of how these three men’s lives became intertwined.
Another description reads: “In the 90s – the most explosive era in dance music history – one of the world’s best DJs meets a child prodigy. When the master suddenly dies in 1998, his 17 year old apprentice Fergie is thrust into the global spotlight. A story of tragedy, ecstasy, music and mayhem.”
Screening as part of the 2023 Doc’n Roll Film Festival, Don’t Ever Stop made its premiere at Midlands Art Centre on Monday (October 30). But there’s another chance to catch it in Brum very soon. The Mockingbird Cinema is also screening the new movie, alongside a Q&A, on November 11. To get your tickets head here.
Last year, a blue plaque was unveiled to honour Tony de Vit at the Custard Factory in Digbeth.