Saturday evening, Assago Forum full, very full. There isn’t even a free space. No, there is no Madonna tonight: the show is only by Gabry Ponte, who with this first live show begins the celebrations for her first 25 years of career. Next to me are people of all ages: there are groups of friends, mothers and fathers with young children, who look around almost dazed by these adults who, more than an hour after the start of the music, are already in fibrillation all over. idea of starting to dance. There are those who remember when they saw her live on other occasions, there are those who admit that they have danced to her music in the disco and have never participated in her live performance. In the end, however, they are all here just for him, to dance and spend an evening which, from the first notes heard in this arena well before the start, is already unforgettable.
Behind these twelve thousand souls ready to unleash Gabry Ponte, the soul and heart of the party, who in these 25 years of career has created incredible hits, danced by everyone.
Twenty-five years of career in one evening
We meet him about an hour before the dancing starts: he welcomes us with a smile, perhaps almost oblivious to the fact that he will soon be starting a party, and what a party. A conductor of great occasions, with twelve thousand friends ready to listen to him and dance with him. Gabry Ponte is happy, perhaps almost unaware of what he has managed to do in recent years and especially this evening. This is probably one of the secrets of the DJ and producer who brought Italian dance all over the world. We often think that Italian artists want to collaborate with international colleagues, but we don’t focus enough on the fact that, in recent years, the desire to do something together has started from abroad. At the center of this is Gabry and his music, which many (and not only in Italy) have sampled. It is part of a long discussion that we have together: the reference, but it is only the most recent, is to “I’m Good (Blue)” by David Guetta and Bebe Rexa, published in summer 2022, but of which the French DJ he had already spoken to Ponte a few years earlier. One of the many awards collected in these 25 years of career.
The first records at 16 years old
Twenty-five years of career is a long time, you are loved by generations and generations of people. Do you have a secret?
It’s something that surprised me at first. Then, in reality, I often think about when I started doing this job: I made my first records when I was 16, 17, which is the same age as many of the kids who were in front of me. Then time passed, I continued to produce music to always be in front of people. I have often had to change my style…our musical genre, being aimed at a very young age group, by definition needs to renew itself more quickly than other genres. Perhaps the need and desire to deal with this generation which is very elusive, with tastes that change at the speed of light forces you to keep up with the times.
“Proud to be a role model”
Many see you as a role model, many kids approach music by listening to yours. Do you feel a bit of a “burden” of being an example for so many people?
I’m very proud of it. I believe that for many young people it is important to have role models to inspire them: when I started DJing, in the early nineties, there were no superstar DJs like today… we were completely at a loss, we had no idea where we would end up ! So yes, I think it’s very nice to have someone who points the way for you, and I’m happy to be among these figures
“Our history is celebrated in this live show”
The Forum is completely sold out. How do you feel about having achieved such an important goal to celebrate your music?
It’s incredible! To tell the truth, our history is celebrated, because we grew up together… a journey that began many years ago: it’s nice to see the affection of the fans, which continues to grow over time even among those who perhaps no longer go to dance. From a personal point of view it is something I had never imagined! I never thought we’d do an event like this at the Forum: we started out very cautiously, we weren’t even sure we’d be able to fill it, but the response was fantastic. Doubly happy.
The first of many shows around Italy
This is the first of many shows around Italy. How do you feel about starting this long journey?
We did everything the other way around: usually tours end at the Forum, we thought of doing a single event which, however, sold out immediately. Hence the idea of repeating it in other cities (Turin on March 2nd, Casalecchio di Reno on April 6th, June 15th at Rock in Rome): I didn’t expect it but I’m very happy.
Do you believe that your curiosity always leads you to renew yourself and create new things?
Surely. But it’s also true that I get bored doing the same things over and over again: I always feel the need to look for new stimuli and things that make my heart beat… who knows what will happen after the Forum!
The meeting with Guetta
The meeting with David Guetta, his desire to make his own version of Blue (Da Ba Dee). Tell us more…
I met David backstage at one of his live shows here in Italy, five years ago. On that occasion he said: “Are you one of the guys who made Blue? You know, a few days ago I was in the studio with Bebe Rexa, we recorded this song with Blue. I would like to open my DJ set at the Ultra Music Festival. But I don’t know if it will come out, we’ll see, I have to do some tests.” I didn’t hear anything again for five years. Then suddenly the email arrived and the song came out.
In recent years I have discovered that there is a lot of respect for this dance scene, invented by us Europeans: it was the beginning of a totally crossover genre that has now also arrived in the United States.
You’re a dad: have you created any dance lullabies for your daughter?
No, to tell the truth no… but every now and then, while I’m working on the computer, I see her stop and start moving. She certainly promises well! (smiles)
We leave Gabry Ponte, say goodbye to him and wait for the show to start
The story of the concert
Ten minutes to go: a timer starts the countdown, and two QR codes take us to Gabry Ponte’s WhatsApp channel. All this is on the main screen, above the wonder console. Three, two, one: the lights go out, a video starts in which electronic arms sculpt the DJ’s face into an imaginary block of marble with lasers. Then, however, he arrives, and it’s all true: Gabry Ponte.
“We took over the Forum”
“We took over the Milan Forum! How wonderful to see so many of you! For nine months I imagined this moment but I couldn’t imagine it being so incredible. Good fun!” says Ponte who officially starts the dance with Easy on my heart.
Then it is impossible to stop: What will remain, PPK (Otherside), The crowd song, The end of the world they are the first hits that are danced. Then the first surprise of the evening: Gabriele Rossi, a young musician that Gabry Ponte met thanks to TikTok, introduces Thunder on the piano (we will then meet him again for the introduction of You are, towards the end of the show). Then comes the sound of Giulia. The bass drum pushes, Move your body, My mind, Those who have no age, Sons of Pythagoras…just some of the successes they lead to Geordie, What do they know about Two Thousand, We are.
“Welcome to the biggest dance party of the last 25 years”
On the notes of Travel together with me, some photos of the beginnings with the Eiffel 65 appear, and with Voglia di dance all night Gabry Ponte makes a request: “Put your cell phones away, just like in the beginning, when we went dancing!” Advice followed to the letter: no cell phones to be seen. Then another surprise of the evening: singing the intro of The dance of the witches Lorenzo Battagion.
The closing is with Blue. But this is far from the end: it all starts from here, from the Forum that took over Gabry Ponte.
25 years of dance – The lineup
INTRO + Rock the house
Easy on my heart
What will remain
The crowd song
The end of the world
Thunder – piano intro Gabriele Rossi
Bass beats and melody
The box pushes
Take on me
Bad romance remix
Move your body
Those who have no age
Live in the air
Sons of Pythagoras
What do the Two Thousand know?
Rock the disco
Dragostea Din Tei
We could be together remix
Travel with me
Where we dance
We will rock you + Too much of heaven
You are – INTRO piano Gabriele Rossi
Time to rock (bounce)
Want to dance all night
The dance of the witches – INTRO Lorenzo Battagion
The dance of the witches