I have lived in the Algarve on Portugal’s southern coast for 7 years, but I was born in South Africa, having grown up in Umhlanga Rocks, a tight-knit little community on South Africa’s east coast, north of the city of Durban. Growing up in the post-Apartheid era of the nineties with an explosion of cultural influences hitting us all for the first time, this era produced some of the most incredible people I have ever known, all of whom have inspired me to go further, reach higher, because dreams can come true. One of the people I had the great privilege of schooling with, creating with, and partying with, was a person now known as DJ Lora, a superstar DJ in her own right. From high school plays to styling shoots in London, to endless nights in breathtaking London nightclubs, dancing the night away to the house music we loved so much, and that inspired our generation, this is a story of nostalgia and friendship that has stretched the boundaries of time, and chronicles my love and admiration for one of the most interesting and fabulous people I have ever known.
DJ Lora was known to me in High School as Laura Elliott, a natural beauty, with blue eyes and her signature long brown hair. But there was always something just that little extra special about her, this girl had real raw talent. I recognised this immediately and thus, when I produced a high school play, I cast Laura in the lead role.
Laura’s father was the late Peter J. Elliott, a British Olympic swimmer who represented Britain in the Olympic games of 1948 and 1952. He later became a pop singer and was a resident ballad singer on ATV’s Oh Boy! He has written a number of successful film scores, two of which have won awards at the Cannes Film Festival. Peter Elliott was also a British film actor, singer, dancer, stunt performer and television presenter. I did not realise how lucky I was at the time when Peter Elliott used to turn up at my play rehearsals and give us tuition. He had such raw charisma, and a palpable presence, and learning from someone so talented was a rare privilege indeed.
With so much raw talent in her blood, Laura left Umhlanga Rocks and headed for London at around the same time I did, and there she began playing in West End nightclubs. She started off in small venues and then went on to play superclubs across London. Laura rocked some of the most legendary dancefloors in London and abroad, including Nobu, Pacha, Raffles, Soho House, Annabels, Fabric, Ministry of Sound, Lou Lou’s, Cuckoo Club, No 5 Cavendish Square, China White, The Arts Club, El Divino Ibiza, Bagatelle, The Egg, Tramp, Turnmills, The Cross, but to name a few.
It is easy to see why DJ Lora has been so successful, as she collaborates well and is always such a great person to work with. With a light and easygoing personality, her look was versatile and transformed well from one style to the next. DJ Lora and I would meet up regularly to have lunch, shop, share ideas, and often discuss the crazy worlds we moved in. I remember asking Laura one day, “How many years do you think you can have a career as a DJ? If you have kids, how practical is that with a family?”
This is always the eternal challenge that successful, career-driven women have to face, and yet, DJ Lora has managed a family and a career, producing her own epic music, and playing at live events and festivals all over the world. DJ Lora has played events for Richard Branson on Necker Island and Moskito Island. Other clients include the Kardashians, Simon Le Bon, Royal Ascot, Goodwood Racing, the British Olympic Ball, World Music Conference in Miami, Elle Magazine Awards, and much, much more, and as seen on social media, her children are with her, travelling the world as DJ Lora plays events booked back to back. Such is her popularity.
This past summer has seen Laura resident in the Hamptons (upstate New York), and Rome, whilst also playing the mainstage at outdoor music festivals such as Jersey Weekender, and of course all the usual plush event afterparties such as Formula 1 and Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Having produced her own music for several years now, DJ Lora’s music is a throwback to her roots, a place I know well, which is why I am such a big fan of hers because she makes the music that we grew up on and that shaped an entire generation of freedom-loving hedonists, that deep and funky House music…for indeed, we love the beat.