Patrick Topping will never forget his final weekend in Guatemala. Three years ago, a delayed connection led him to miss a flight from Miami to Guatemala City, so to make sure he got to the club in time, the promoter sent a private jet to pick him up. By the time he got there it was 8AM. The police were paid off to allow the club to stay open just a little bit longer so Patrick could play. The son of a local politician was in the crowd, and he invited Patrick and his girlfriend to a beachside villa for a two-day afterparty. “We cancelled our flights home and spent the next couple of days riding quad bikes at 60mph on this black, sandy beach,” he remembers. “We saw a sea turtle and there was an earthquake – I literally felt the ground shake. I went to find everyone to tell them I’d made some end-of-year DJ polls and they were smoking weed in a bong made from an apple.
I never smoke weed, but I did, just that once. At the end of the trip we were flown straight from the villa to the airport through the mountains, with a smoking volcano on one side of us. It sounds like I’m making it up, but it was real. When I got home to Newcastle, I was like, ‘What was that…?’”
Private jets and partying with the rich kids of South America are, indeed, a long way from Patrick’s home town of North Shields on Tyneside, a suburb of Newcastle. The grey sky and red brick terraces scroll by the window of Patrick’s black Mercedes A180. Until recently he drove a Citroen C2, but traded up because he “looked like Mr Bean”. His accent is soft and musical. His favourite word is “mint”, and “our” or “us” is “wor”, while “yes” is most often “aye”. Our destination is Riley’s Fish Shack on the beach at King Edward’s Bay, Patrick’s favourite restaurant.