I have gone from DJing at least twice a week, running events every couple of months, and most importantly, partying, to barely making it out of the house twice a week.
My last night of gigs had been on the 14th of March for Disco Disco at 93 Feet East and I Feel Love at Brixton Jamm, and there was an essence of saving the last dance. We’d been told that this was the last weekend venues would be open as the virus has started to grip the UK. The next morning, hangover in tow, I felt that shift of… well, what do I do now?
It really hit home for me that next day how venues, in particular grassroots venues, were a part of my life; they were my whole livelihood. It had never crossed my mind that the whole world would be shutting for four months-plus, and it made me realise how important being able to go out meant to me.
My night, The Soul Exchange was started in a grassroots venue in West London and was supposed to have its second birthday at the Horse and Groom in East. However, without the ability to put on events, I felt stuck with how to maintain my platform. I adapted by creating The Soul Exchange Set over quarantine: a mix series bringing to light young DJs across the UK with a vested interest in soul music, records and subculture. The connections I’ve made and the responses I’ve had have cemented just how important the music community is.
A lot of the DJs I collaborated with as part of the mix series I had met through the soul scene. Most notably at the 100 Club’s 6Ts Rhythm and Soul all-nighters; and now a lot of these people I call best friends.
I’ve been going to that all-nighter for in excess of seven years now, and what first started out as a trip with my mum, or a solo trip if I needed my fix, has now turned into a family affair. So, when the 100 Club was ‘permanently saved’ by Westminster council with the promise they could ‘benefit from up to 100% relief on its business rates’ in January of this year, I was happy to say the least.