Hong Kong Sevens

DJ spins the tunes and a few wild tales, too

Music plays a big role at the tournament and it's Simon Southgate's job to pick the right songs

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 March, 2013, 4:41am

Several years ago, stadium DJ Simon Southgate dressed up in a gorilla suit and passed out due to heat exhaustion. "I knew they weren't taking me seriously when they were not sure whether to call a vet or a doctor," he jokes.

For the team in the control box, spinning the songs is a balance between playing the old favourites and predicting what the hits of the year will be.

And everything is timed to the second.

"Timing is everything in this game, often we have 90 seconds between ads and games, so we just pick the key parts of a song. Everyone loves songs like Sweet Child of Mine, but the iconic guitar riff alone lasts a few minutes, so we have to choose carefully," Southgate says.

He knows Sevens songs are all about setting the right mood. "We build the energy, but we can't keep the energy at an ultra-high level the whole time, the music has to go through waves as the tournament progresses."

On the origin of Sweet Caroline at the Sevens, Southgate reveals: "In 2006, I was up in Lan Kwai Fong on the Friday night and Sweet Caroline came on the jukebox in Al's Diner.

The whole street burst into song and waved their arms in the air. When I went to the stadium on Saturday I asked to play the song, but the game schedule was too tight. I returned to Lan Kwai Fong on the Saturday night and the same thing happened.

"When I returned to the control box on the Sunday I pleaded to be given the chance to play it. To shut me up they let me plug my iPod in and the rest, as they say, is history!"

In between sets, the DJs go through the South Stand and get up close and personal with the dress-up doyens for musical inspiration.

"This year, the James Bond theme is a big hit with Skyfall and the 50 years of Bond anniversary, which we predicted, and so we've played the Bond theme and songs from the movies. Some years, we've also put together medleys that reflect what's happening in the stadium.

"We've done them featuring "I need a hero" for the various superheroes."

Crowd co-operation also affects the musical end-game. "If the Sevens crowd behave themselves and we have to make fewer announcements, we get to play more tunes," says Southgate.

And why are Southgate and the whole sound control booth wearing Hawaiian shirts today? "There's a reason why I'm dressed like this, and I've been spinning Hawaiian themed songs - at 2.38pm [today], 40,000 people in the stadium, and over 255 million homes watching around the world will watch the Beach Boys play for over half an hour, kicking off with Barbara Ann."