» News and Features » Bobby Lavinière Interview: "We're having the best time, and it’s all for Steve"
Bobby Lavinière Interview: "We're having the best time, and it’s all for Steve"
With the legendary Garage City Reunion PT3 - Dance For Stevie Fundraiser returning next month, we caught up with Bobby to chat about his and Steve's legacy, the history of Garage City, and what to expect from the event!
Last updated: 22nd Sep 2023
If you were out and about in the London House scene in the 90s, then it's more than likely you've boogied to the sound of Bobby & Steve. The twin brother duo were stalwarts Big Smokes clubbing scene and the go-to guys for the soulful variety of house music. Their weekly club night, Garage City, was the place to see all the upcoming talent, and many a superstar cut their teeth in its confines.
Yet, since the COVID-19 pandemic, one-half of that dynastic duo has been stuck in Hospital, struggling with an incredibly rare brain injury that has seen him confined to a hospital bed since 2020. However, with his other half confined in such a way, Bobby didn't want to sit and do nothing, and neither did all of the DJs and artists that Stevie helped break through, support, and champion over the year. That's where Dance For Stevie came about.
Now on its third edition, Dance For Stevie is flying as a fundraiser, with a multitude of massive DJs coming back to pay homage to their roots, roots that Steve played a huge part in cultivating.
In preparation event - which will see the likes of Barbara Tucker, and her new collective BCrew; Mark Knight, owner of Toolroom records; and Bryan Chambers, UK House vocal legend; coming down to 93 Feet East to play - we caught up with Bobby to chat about the latest Dance With Stevie Night, the history of Garage City, and his and Steves lasting legacy in the UK House scene. Scroll down and check it out!
So, we're close to Part 3 of the Garage City reunion, Dance for Stevie events, in support of your brother's unfortunate brain injury after COVID, where did the idea for the reunion come from?
"So with my brother having his brain injury from COVID, and still being in the neurological hospital, a couple of years ago, I thought, do you know what? It would be good in honour of Steve to bring it back.
"We haven't done a Garage City party for like 18 years or whatever. Yeah. So we thought that we'd do some reunions, and raise some funds for Steve and for his future care and stuff.
"So we did the first one in October last year, and we’ve done it this year as well, and it's just been amazing. We've had Simon Dunmore, Norman Jay, Mark Knight who’s doing this one, you know, there isn't, we've had all these massive UK DJs come and play for us.
"So yeah, we're raising funds, getting the old band back together, and we're just having the best time, and it’s all for Steve."
You mentioned Mark Knight there, who’s going to be one of the many acts playing this third edition of the event, who else is gonna be there, and what else can we expect from the night?
"Well, we’ve got 25 DJs and it's at 93 Feet East in London, Shoreditch, which is a great venue. So we've got two rooms and we've got a courtyard so we can have 25 DJs from one o'clock in the afternoon till 1:30 in the morning and it's all classic, you know, Garage City, Soulful House from back in the day. All day and all night long till 1.30.
"We've got Barbara Tucker flying over with Dawn Tallman and Charlotte Small. They're collectively now called the B Crew. Barbara Tucker's records, you know, Beautiful People, Deep Inside, and so on; all those classics were broken at Garage City nights, and she's been performing with us from back in the 90s, Barbara.
"Also, Brian Chambers, a UK legend, whose done tracks for Me and Stevie on our label, is going to be performing as well. And like I said, we've got Mark Knight from Toolroom, and we've got Ricky Morrison, who was one of the residents from back in the day.
"There are so many more and we've got a great lineup, it's always a great crowd, and it always does really well, and we're continuing to raise funds for Stevie; it’s awesome.
For those who aren't aware, can you tell us about the original Garage City events you and Steve put on and a bit about how they first came about?
"So Garage City was born in 1991, my twin brother Steve came up with the idea, and it was part of a partnership we did with Kiss FM, that ended up becoming one of the biggest and longest-running House nights of its kind in London.
"It ran from 1991 to 2002, 11 years. Every. Single. Week.
"It was really the brainchild of my brother Steve on the back of a visit that we had to the legendary Paradise Garage Club in New York City back in 1987. We went there and we heard Larry Levan play, and we just resonated with that Disco sound.
"We loved Disco anyway before that, but House was just emerging then. You know, this is July 1987. So, we heard some disco there, but also that first batch of house music tracks that were coming out. And we just thought, wow we need to do this in London. You know, this is some of us.
"So when we had the opportunity to start a weekly club. That's what Steve thought to do and we called it Garage City to pay tribute to the club."
Looking back at those lineups and acts you used to get to play those gigs, it’s just name after name after name of modern House music legends.
"Yeah man, it felt like we had every single DJ throughout the years come and play with us. Roger Sanchez, Danny Tenaglia, Masters at Work, and it was back when everyone was just starting out.
"Pretty much every single Original House DJ from back in the '90s played at our event until it ended in 2002."
Footage from the first Garage City Reunion - Dance For Stevie Fundraiser
Yeah, it’s amazing to see them all coming back to help now as well, and to be on the third edition of it just shows how much your and Stevie’s work has resonated with people, and also just the power of music and events like this. That, when something like this does happen, your friends and your peers are all there to jump at the chance and come and help support it.
"Yeah, it’s a beautiful thing and is a testament to our very loyal following.
"Me and Steve started DJing in 1984 and promoting the same night, and we haven't stopped since. The loyalty that people have shown has just been brilliant. From back in the day, we've got people who were at our first party, who still come to our parties now. And that's a godsend.
"So, when something like this happens, and you see people are coming out because of the old Garage City nights, and because of their love for Steve, you know, everyone's a lot older now and a lot wiser and understanding what life is really about, so I think people just want to help and support each other now, which is brilliant.
"But, yeah, Me and Steve, we served our time in the dance industry. We've stayed true to our genre. We started off playing soul music back in 84; Then went to Disco; And then went to Soulful House.
"We haven't judged, we've always stayed true to what we believe in, And I think that has been a testament to why we've got a good crowd. People know what they're getting when they come to our parties, especially the old garage city parties that we used to do, and it’s showing in these reunion nights we’re doing now."
You mentioned that there are people who came to the old Garage City who are still coming to these reunion nights, how has the attendance from younger audiences been? There are some awesome names on there and I can imagine seeing a diverse age range in the crowd just shows the power of good music, and shows that the work you guys did back in the Garage City days is still ringing true today.
"Yeah definitely. I mean, look, me and Steve are 60 in November. So, a lot of our crowds back then, thank god, were a lot younger.
"My children now are 23, 30, and 33, right? So, a lot of our friends and the people who follow us back in the day, they're coming with their youngsters and that, 'cause they're not kids, they're adults. Do you know what I mean?
"So, today these people are still into the music the same as Me and Steve, and their kids are listening to it too.
"It's one of them things, I'm not knocking any other genres, but real music, for us, it's melodic, it's chords, it's instruments you know? It's not like we've had some fad of a scene, you're still going to resonate with the music to this day because it's powerful, it's hitting your soul. It's not called Soulful House for nothing.
"We had some people come out to the first part and they hadn’t been out for like 10 years. But they're coming out now and thinking, oh my gosh, you know, because they feel that vibration and that frequency and it's lifting everyone up all over again.
"So yeah, we're getting all the oldies to come out, but we’re also getting a mixture."
Image: Bobby & Steve on Facebook
As we’ve said, It’s a true testament to what you both did and its legacy, I know Steve's still in the hospital, but has he been able to be a part of it? or been able to see everyone coming together for him?
"Well, it all happened in March of 2020, at the height of COVID. He walked into a hospital, and he was quickly put into an induced coma, and on a ventilator for 3 weeks. Once they took him off the ventilator, they realised the Covid virus had got into his nervous system and inflamed cells in his brain. So he got diagnosed with a brain injury called Acute Haemorrhage Lukaenchaphelitas, which is very, very, very, very, very rare; and very, very serious.
"He’s been left, for now, in what's called a prolonged disorder of consciousness. So, Steve can't walk, he can't talk, he can't communicate. However, he can open his eyes, he has a wake-up and sleep pattern. You know, his eyes are open, but he's not following your finger, and he's not able to communicate.
"But, against all odds, on paper, he's not even supposed to be in the position where he is now. So he's doing extremely well, on that side of it, and we know he can hear, and even though he can't respond to what he's hearing, we know he can understand stuff inside.
"So we play him music all the time, and you know, I sit and talk to him, he’s my twin brother and we have that very strong, deep connection."
"So I try to get him involved in everything. I let him know what's going on, we do live streams to his room when we do the parties, so he can see and hear what's going on and everything else.
"So, yeah, Steve's very happy, and I’m sure he's very thankful for everything because we believe in energy and healing power, and we're all dancing for Stevie. That's what the night is called, and that's what it’s all about.
Thanks so much, Bobby, finally, is there anything you’d like to add or say to the people coming down and supporting and dancing for Stevie?
"I’d just like to thank every single person who's been supporting me and Steve from day one and throughout this journey, from back in the day and even more so up to now. You're sending love and healing and praying and everything else. It's very important, and we're just very grateful and just very thankful for that.
"That's what the world needs now. We just need to support each other in any way and anywhere we can, and then good things come from all that. Everything comes from love, and it is all about love, so we're thankful for everything."
If you want to find out some more information, or some FAQs, so you can show your love and Dance For Stevie then you can find it all by visiting the event page on Skiddle by clicking or tapping - HERE
Or, if you want to just grab tickets now, scroll down to the bottom of this page and grab them in the box provided.
If you cannot attend but still want to help out, then there is also a GoFundMe for Steve, which is more than halfway towards its £80,000 goal. You can find that by clicking, or tapping - HERE
Check out our What's On Guide to discover even more rowdy raves and sweaty gigs taking place over the coming weeks and months. For festivals, lifestyle events and more, head on over to our Things To Do page or be inspired by the event selections on our Inspire Me page.
Header image credit: Bobby & Steve on Facebook
Tickets to Dance For Stevie - Garage City PT3 Reunion - Fundraiser