Tuesday, 5 March 2013

DJ Wheelie Bag - Off his trolley!

The one deck trolley troubadour! 

Deejay Wheelie Bag at the Spread Eagle. Photo by Dave Edwards.
 London has always been blessed with a wide range of colourful characters, eccentrics and oddballs, from “Jesus” who seemed to be at every gig I ever attended in the 1980’s, especially at the Marquee, the Liverpudlian “preacher” at Oxford Circus telling shoppers to repent their sins, through to the pensioner who used to tap dance in Portobello Road to name but a few. For the past dozen years or so London’s best character has been DJ Wheelie Bag, a man who plays vintage vinyl on a contraption that originally started out as an old ladies shopping trolley. To his family and friends he's plain Denys Avis, though there is nothing plain about him.  Slightly eccentric maybe, definitely colourful, DJ Wheelie Bag has been a by word for fun for those in the know. I first came across him around nine years ago when he had a residency every Wednesday at the Pillars of Hercules in Soho and was soon seduced by his blend of Jamaican Ska, Rockabilly, Rhythm and Blues and quirky rock "n" roll covers from south America. Along with dancing Barbie dolls in bondage gear, there were also general knowledge quizzes with prizes sourced from the Pound Shop in Dalston and games involving rubber bands, balloons and straws.
Hook a horseshoe on the cactus to win a prize! Photo by Dave Edwards.
The prizes are as quirky as you’d expect, electric scissors, stick on moustaches, flying pigs, Elvis glasses & wig (a bald man actually stole the wig from me on one occasion and disappeared into the Soho night!) and memorably, a bird table!
Now, not only does Denys build the one deck portable machine from scratch, (dimensions were made to fit under the stairs of a Routemaster bus!) he built them to order for his followers and by 2006 I too was the proud owner of a Wheelie Bag along with Smiler who had first introduced me to him. There’s over 30 dotted around the world and this led to the creation of an annual Wheelie Bag Ball, a sort of Miss World competition for Wheelie Bags complete with a miniature replica as the trophy. Originally based at the Irish Working Mens Club in Newington Green it finished at the 100 Club in 2009, though there was an attempt to revive it in 2011 in Euston.
The Wheelie Bag Ball trophy! Photo by Dave Edwards.
In 2009, Wheelie’s residency at The Pillars came to end and as only Wheelie could, he performed a closing ceremony in which around 100 fans gave him a rousing reception as he tore his poster down from the wall and followed him out of the pub into Greek Street, leaving 3 bemused tourists sat in the now empty pub.  Since then Wheelie has been at The Spread Eagle in Camden Town on the first Wednesday of every month and in Crazy Homies, Westbourne Park on the first Thursday as well as various events around the UK and Europe including The Rhythm Festival in August.
There’s also been a DVD about him, a pilot for a pop quiz called Sound Me Out and last year, the first Wheelie Bag Annual hit the shelves. So if you want to see what all the fuss is about get yourself down to the Spread Eagle or Crazy Homies. For more info click here!
Yours truly with DJ Wheelie Bag. Photo by Dave Edwards.
Originally posted 22nd May 2012. 


  1. "Yours truly with DJ Wheelie Bag
    Photo by Dave Edwards."
    you must have a very long elastic arm if you took this picture ... LOL