Gok Wan wows by popping the ‘festival cherry’ at a pub party.

Gok Wan reveals he went to his first rave when he was 13 when he promises to host the biggest online dance party in history for New Year's Eve Getty Images|Rex Features

Gok Wan delivered a great house set as he headlined the opening night of Pub in the Park in Warwick (Image: Josh Layton)

He’s had his army of online disciples partying during lockdowns, so Gok Wan was never going to let the real thing go without a bang.

The DJ brought it back to the ’90s with a classic house set aimed at a crowd that had shown a healthy appetite for craft spirits, fire pits and wood-fired pizza when Pub in the Park hit Warwick.

Headlining Tom Kerridge’s touring festival was a coaxing, smiling, playful, teasing presence behind the decks, riding every beat while delivering bang after bang. Nothing stood in the way of Friday night’s Gok party as the TV personality, who’s also a professional and fairly neat mixmaster, laid natural charm.

He styled out a sound system malfunction early in his set, responding to a blizzard of static by saying, “In all my years as a DJ it’s never happened, but I like it a lot, I like awkwardness.”

The veteran raver joined a largely older generation and a few youngsters drifting over from the fancy food stalls, and joked, “I’m older than Warwick, I’m older than Wasser.”

Nonetheless, he arrived in black club attire, ready to show the kids how it’s done, and told the crowd, “It’s my first festival of the season… They’re taking my 2022 festival cherry.”

Gok Wan

Gok Wan was a huge crowd puller when he headlined Pub in the Park in Warwick (Image: Josh Layton)

He slipped away with an acapella rendition of Minnie Riperton’s Lovin’ You and soon had a pounding backbeat going as he mixed vocal ground-fillers with boschin’ breakdowns.

Confirming recent speculation, he said, “By the way, I’m single,” as he launched a “cheeky remix” that somehow artfully combined Cece Peniston’s “Finally” with Sandy B’s “Make The World Go Round.”

Proving it wasn’t just an old-school gathering in a Warwickshire park, the headliner got two young kids dancing on stage. He joked, “I just grew ovaries,” as he resumed his DJ duties.

Gok Wan

Gok Wan unleashed his inner raver on the opening night of Warwick’s Pub in the Park (Photo: Josh Layton)

Gok, 47, became something of a savior during lockdown by sharing his soulful house mixes via Facebook, and his set felt like a release of pent-up energy. The live feeds, part of his Isolation Nation brand, were oddly comforting at a time when dancing was all but banned.

“Remember we weren’t allowed to dance two years ago?” he asked.

“Now look at us. It is time to make up for lost time.”

With smoke belts and flaming shots thrown into the atmosphere, the 600 or so spectators on the main stage did just that.

It was probably the most exciting event to have happened in this corner of Warwick since a shot from the castle’s giant trebuchet set fire to a moat house.

The party animal himself looked totally energized, as if the pandemic malaise had just recharged his batteries. He was both partygoer and club nostalgia leader as he sipped on an alcoholic mixer of some sort and danced in front of the decks, eventually leaping in front of the barriers where he was besieged by fans.

Gok Wan

Gok Wan approaches the fans as he jumps off the stage to join the party (Image: Josh Layton)

‘Are you all absolutely leathered?’ were pretty much his first words as he floated onto the stage at St. Nicholas Park.

While Gok may be better known to some as a dress show host, his professional DJ resume stretches back seven years and he’s a veteran of warehouse raves in nearby Coventry.

It showed as the night’s closing act flipped switches to get the best out of the sound system and raised pointed fingers at the darkening skies.

As for all the flowery vocals, piano keys and instantly recognizable choruses, the remixes were well chosen and backed by a solid baseline that would put many White Isle techno DJs to shame.

Forty-five minutes flew by and by the time he released the Tori Amos remix that had the words “Gotta Be Big” etched into the minds of many older ravers, it was almost time for the Gok show to move on.

Whether sipping vodka in his kitchen or in the bracing air of a sleepy river, one thing is undeniable – Gok Wan knows how to party.

Click here to find out more about Pub in the Park and tickets

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show business Gok Wan wows by popping the 'festival cherry' at a pub party.

Justin Scacco

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