DJ Stephen's Entertaining Tale
Despite currently being one of the busiest people in entertainment and the build-up to large events like Pride Canterbury always being a crazy time, Stephen Sullivan - Radio DJ and Entertainment Director at Pride Canterbury and Glitterbomb, was kind enough to spend some time with us and share his Canterbury Tale. Enjoy!
So, Stephen, what’s your story...
While I was at University (over 20 years ago!) in London, I was offered a job on Invicta FM (now Heart Radio) presenting the evening show. I'd never been to Kent up until this point and grew up on the London/Essex border. I’d always wanted to be a radio presenter and used to work for my local hospital radio so I jumped at the chance to move down and that was the start of my Canterbury journey! At first, I lived in Herne Bay, but my friends and I would always come to Canterbury for nights out and that's where I started taking an interest in events.
What is it you love most about Canterbury?
I’ve always felt like Canterbury has some of the best of everything. I love the history and character of the buildings. The high street is always busy and it feels like everyone wants to come here. It has such a buzz. I always enjoy the Dane John Gardens and all the different events throughout the year and the independent shops and local businesses (I’m hoping, even more, will pop up soon!). Overall it’s a friendly place and it feels big enough yet you can still bump into people you know around the City. It feels like home!
What’s your proudest Canterbury moment or achievement?
This is so hard because I’ve had so many good times here. If I had to be really general, I’m proud to have contributed positively to people’s experience of Canterbury, in particular for the students and the LGBTQ+ community here. While I’m just a small part of that and there are so many other people involved in events/nightlife, it’s great to know that people have met lifelong friends or even their other half at some of the events I’ve been involved with. I occasionally see people who have studied here, long after they’ve left Canterbury, and they talk about the memories they’ve made and I’m proud to have played a part.
You’ve met some exciting names in entertainment, who have you been most starstruck by?
I’ve been lucky enough to interview so many interesting people through working in radio over the years. A few people really stick out but I guess Justin Timberlake was one of the people who I was most starstruck by. It was for the release of his single ‘Cry Me A River’ and he was definitely one of the most famous men on the planet at this point.
What might people be surprised to find out about you?
That I’m not a complete party animal! I always meet people on nights-out or at different events, and I suppose because I see people when they are ‘out’ all the time, some people expect me to constantly be in a bar. On my nights off I really like hanging out with my friends, grabbing takeaway at home or just chilling out on the sofa.
Do you have any special stories or interesting facts about yourself, Pride Canterbury, Glitterbomb you’d like to share?
I used to work with Jonny who now runs the fabulous Notorious BRG on Castle Street and we came up with the name Glitterbomb in about five minutes. We were talking about doing a new LGBTQ+ type event and were inspired by activists who were throwing Glitter on politicians who were anti gay-rights, it was also known as 'Glitterbombing'. Normally deciding the name of an event is a hugely long process but we said the name out loud and it just seemed to make sense - I don’t think either of us thought it would still be around 10 years later though!
What’s new for you this year, or what are you most looking forward to?
It’s been a strange 18 months in the events industry so, to be honest, I’m looking forward to things getting slowly back to something that is more ‘normal’. I imagine there will still be challenges over the next few months, but one good thing to come out of the pandemic is Glitterbomb becoming more diverse, putting on different types of socially distanced shows and experimenting with more cabaret etc. I hope this is something we can still offer into next year.
Pride Canterbury is one of the biggest Prides in the UK and the third-largest in the southeast of England, why do you think it's so popular?
It’s so incredible that everyone has embraced Pride Canterbury. If I had to say what makes it so popular, I think it’s just community spirit. It’s great that people want to turn up and show their support for the LGBTQ+ community, but I think it’s also a time when everyone can come together and be themselves.
I love that Pride Canterbury is free to enter and is paid for by our generous sponsors - myself and the whole team are so grateful for their support because it really makes everything happen. There are many people who don’t have the money to go attend events like this, so the fact you can come along with £0 and still be a part of it and have a great day, I think is fantastic.
What inspired you to become the entertainment director for Pride Canterbury?
Through my existing events I already had quite a few dealings with music agents so when roles were being given out at one of the first meetings, that is just what I was assigned. I wish it was a more exciting story! It’s been great working with Dean aka Delilah Tickles and I guess the inspiration to continue is all to do with the crowds on the day and you can see people going crazy and getting lost in the performances. It’s escapism and such a shared moment. It can be stressful at times but the reactions on the day keep me going.
What are your favourite things to do at Pride Canterbury? Or do you have a favourite story to share about the event or the build-up to it?
Normally I’m running around like crazy on the day, but one of my favourite things to do is check out the Pride market and all the local stands - and the local food vendors of course! Apart from that - I love watching from the side of the stage and seeing the crowds reaction to the performers.
What are your practical tips for attending Pride Canterbury?
Wear comfortable shoes, be colourful, bring glitter. Be yourself!
Where can we find out more about Pride Canterbury and the work you do?
We are on all the socials @pridecanterbury and you can also check out www.pridecanterbury.com
What exciting plans have you got bubbling away for 2022?
Believe it or not, I’m already having conversations about the lineup for Pride Canterbury 2022. It’s looking like it’s going to be very exciting!