If you haven’t yet heard of Dom Whiting, it’s only a matter of time. The man has become somewhat of a minor celebrity in the bleak world of lockdown Britain for bringing some much-needed music to the masses.
His method of delivery, however, is rather unorthodox.
Unlike Australia, the UK has been suffering under some pretty intense lockdown conditions that hit both above and below our own. We say that because while pubs, bars, and social gatherings have been restricted in the country, flights and travel have not been quite as severely stopped.
The erratic and irregular rules have, coupled with the high population density and vastly increased interconnectedness, has made Britain one of the hardest-hit countries by COVID-19.
Many people who live in cities in the UK, some 84% of the population, live in houses without gardens or balconies, which has made going for a walk in the park pretty much the highlight of British life for the past year. Clubs and parties are out of the question.
The impact of these rolling lockdowns has taken a huge toll on the mental health of the population, particularly among frontline workers, students, and the elderly, with one survey finding 79% of respondents claiming their mental health had become ‘worse’ or ‘much worse’.
This is where Whiting comes in.
Dancing in the streets
Whiting says he’s been DJing for the past five years, first drum & bass, then house and techno. As the clubs are closed and the life-giving force of communal enjoyment of live tunes was shut off to the country, he decided to take the music to the people.
He began by DJing in public spaces. Outside McDonalds, on a roundabout, basically anywhere he could set up a table with two decks, a mixer, and some speakers.
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However, he soon wanted to spread the beats further.
“I was actually out for a drink with a friend one night and they suggested DJing from a bike. I didn’t really take it too seriously but, low and behold, the next day I was searching for something that would work for me.
“You could say it was a lockdown project as this was carried out during lockdown”.
He bought himself a Christiania cargo bike which Cycling Magazine describes as having a “unique handlebar and surprisingly maneuverable turning radius.”
He then spent around $1,100 on a battery pack and many hours hand crafting a platform for his gear, allowing him to simultaneously pedal the bike, mix tracks, and give shoutouts to his followers on live stream.
He was then ready to take on the UK, one city at a time.
Starting out in the town of Marlow, Whiting cycled through the city, blasting techno through his speakers and chatting to passers-by.
His next target was the city of Oxford (this rather homesick author’s hometown) where he started picking up a few in-person followers who cycled along with him.
By his third outing, in the city of Bristol, Whiting had acquired a big enough following of drum & bass enthusiasts on two wheels to start causing a bit of disruption on the main roads.
His videos have clocked in over 700,000 views each and his notoriety is still growing. A recent video in the city of Brighton had, by our count, close to a hundred cyclists in his wake.
Even if you’re not a fan of drum & bass or techno, Whiting’s hour-and-a-half sets and his cheeky commentary give you a wonderful tour of UK suburbs. Play them on the big screen for a much-needed serotonin boost. It’s like going on holiday without having to leave the sofa.
Music is the medicine
“Everyone in the UK is in a bit of low spirits at the moment, so it’s good to go out there and put a smile on people’s faces,” Whiting says.
“It’s definitely been well received and appreciated at all the cities I’ve visited.”
The comments section on his Drum & Bass videos also bring happiness to the masses. They’re full of strangers reminiscing on good times.
“Great positive vibes in a world that greatly needs a lot more positivity,” reads one. “Jeez, isn’t this just exactly what the world needs!?,” reads another.
Dom says it’s “not only the music, but it’s actually the gathering together and the enjoyment of a couple of hours with friends and random people, like you would if you went out to a nightclub”.
He said: “It’s a completely different atmosphere to being in a nightclub though as you are riding the bike and you’re just in open air. It’s a weird but great feeling. Until you get to a hill”.
Dom says he doesn’t have a plan for the future of the open-air sets but is keen to continue to play them for as long as people are interested.
“Not gonna lie, I don’t really have an end goal at the moment. I just wanna keep bringing good vibes to the people, maybe even across the globe.”
We can confidently say that if he ever makes it across to Australia, he would receive a warm welcome.