EXCLUSIVE: "I just do it because I love people" - We catch up with Northampton's "mini-celebrity", Disco Henry
"The people are my favourite bit of the job. Meeting everyone, being respected and loved by so many"
Northampton's "mini-celebrity" Disco Henry has spoke out about his last year in lockdown and how he "can't wait" to get back doing what he loves, DJ'ing and taking photos of people in the county's clubs.
This newspaper caught up with Disco Henry to talk about his passion, photography, what he's seen over the years in town and how he has been getting on in lockdown, which meant his photography and his business came to a sudden stop in March 2020.
For those who do not know Disco Henry, he has been taking photos of revellers in Northampton and Wellinborough nightclubs since 2004, and was possibly one of the first to really utilise the internet and social media to provide people with memories of their nights out.
Disco Henry explained how he got into doing what he does.
He said: "My passion from a young age was with film and photography, I studied it at school and started doing it more. I just had a passion. I used to take pictures when I went out with my friends and then people asked for their pictures taken and it just started from there.
"I decided to make a website in the early 2000s and called it Disco Henry, from there, it just took off. I think because back then, there was no social media.
"There were a few disadvantages for some people. Those who called in sick to work might get in trouble and those who were with people they shouldn't have been with. Other than that, people loved it!"
Disco Henry said at the height of his local fame and activities, between 2006 to 2015, he had 30,000 followers on Facebook and was spending three to four, very late, nights a week snapping people in various clubs in Northampton and Wellinborough.
He said: "I would say I'm a mini-celebrity in Northants. If you asked most people, I would say they know me. People know of me and obviously my Facebook, which has about 26,000 followers now.
"It's lovely to be recognised and to be appreciated for my work. I think 99 per cent of people appreciate what I do. I just do it because I love people. I love socialising. I don't get much financial gain out of it, I just love it.
"When people look back on my pictures, they say how good the nights out were. I was taking a thousand photos some nights. I have probably met and pictured millions of people."
Disco Henry's Facebook has thousands of pictures of people on nights out over the last 15 years.
The photographer continued: "I would definitely say I put smiles on people's faces. I hear people screaming my name and people want me to take their pictures. I think people trust me. You have to be very trusted and liked to do this. I have built my reputation throughout the years by doing what I do."
Spending so many years in town and watching different generations party, what has Disco Henry seen and what were his favourite nights out?
He said: "Between 2006 and 2015 were my favourite years. My favourite nights were at NB's and Lava Ignite because of the larger capacity of people. Embargos was great. Groove was great, too. It was a lot more fun 10 years ago than it is now, there was more camaraderie.
"I think society's changing, there are different fashions, different hairstyles, lots of things change. People were willing to do more and were less self-conscious and embraced the themed, dress-up nights more.
"People were out earlier back in the day, around the 2010 era. Nowadays you're lucky to get town rammed before 2am. I would contribute that to licensing, and pre-drinking, which makes nights out cheaper."
How has lockdown affected Disco Henry and his business?
He said: "It's been one year and one week since my last event. It has affected me massively, not being able to go out.
"As you can appreciate, I am very sociable and out-going. Lockdown did affect my mental health. I couldn't contact people. Not being able to see my friends or share experiences with people was hard. My camera has not done any work since last year.
"I do miss it, I miss seeing the people. They are missing out on such a good time. People's mental health must be struggling, not seeing friends, not drinking, not partying, not having fun. All the parties missed. It's affected people massively.
"I'm hoping to be back out there DJ'ing and photographing in June."
Henry added that he has had to cut back on the amount of times he now goes out to town after being diagnosed with diabetes six years ago. He has also recently just been working exclusively with NB's and private parties.
The local celeb gave one last message to the people of Northants. He said: "I'll be back soon!"