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Partying While Black in a Pandemic

The global pandemic highlighted the demand for black events and the dearth of events and spaces, especially throughout Summer into the Autumn season. Recess and DLT both selling out Wembley Box Park over bank holiday weekend is proof of that. Various DJ’s, Partygoers and event organisers tell us how they’ve navigated partying in this “new normal”, the challenges they’ve faced and the joys of being a Black Brit.

Super Midz

The pandemic has radically altered every aspect of our lives; our perspectives, how we work, and on a social level, how we party. We became so used to being inside that our social batteries finish a lot faster compared with pre-pandemic says International Dj, Super Midz, “people get really tired really quickly hence why day parties have taken off and taken over nights. People are rarely partying till 4am nowadays. It’s the day party sensation. When people get tired you start to think you’re playing the wrong songs but it’s just because people are worn out, we’re used to being in our houses all the time. People just want to finish at 11/12, that’s why day parties have become so popular. But the vibe at day parties is great, people are so happy to be able to party normally again”.

The pandemic also changed how frequently we listen to new music, studies showed that people listen to the same songs for comfort, and we did a lot of comfort listening during the lockdowns. As Super Midz puts it “It’s also hard to gauge what people want to hear because songs get forgotten about really early. You want to play the new tunes but nostalgia has people in a chokehold”.

As black people, we are often reminded of our precarious position in this country; whether it be politically, financially or socially. Black nightlife is bourgeoning but is still facing obstacles from institutional racism.. Even when a venue is secured, it’s not without hiccups. Recess Founder, Jojo Sonubu took to social media to detail the racism and poor logistical help from The Cause in Tottenham. As Super Midz puts it, “London blacks have an obsession with Shoreditch, I don’t know why it’s the go-to for events when it’s not good for us, the venues aren’t good. A lot of the venues that are offered to us are sub-par. I DJed at one event in Shoreditch in July and their AC doesn’t work. What does that even mean?! Or another venue had DJ equipment from 2009”.

Two Twos podcast

For many of us, the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns gave us more time and pushed us to try new things. For Two Twos podcast hosts, Rose and Nana, it’s what pushed them to restart their events company and start throwing parties again, “The pandemic really shook us and everything really aligned. Life is too short, let’s be moving”.

They went back to the drawing board and decided to create a queer black event, “We became more aligned with what sort of event that we wanted, platform. We had to take it back and figure out what we stand for and what we wanted to bring to our community”.

Rose and Nana face a unique challenge of experiencing both homophobia and racism when it comes to venue mangers, “We have to deal with homophobia and racism. The venue might be fine with it being a LGBTQ+ event, and then once they hear the music you’re playing, they’ll move mad”. After having found a venue managed by a black, queer woman, their process has made a lot easier.

The post-pandemic demand for their events were crazy, with their event selling out

The demand post-pandemic has been crazy. With their event selling out and people quite literally begging for tickets, there is a need for more black events.

Jennifer – Party-goer

1. Generally how have you found partying in a pandemic?

I would say you know, from my experience last year and this year I’ve not found it very much different to be honest with you. I’m a party-goer, like i’m a party gal, so urm a lot of the vibe that I experience is because of (not even trying to be mad here) but it’s because of me like I just come lit and so I have a good time. So maybe thats why I dont notice a big difference. I would say the main difference I see is that most events are really full now, and I see a lot of events selling out a lot quicker than normal. I see a lot more people out - that’s the main thing I would say has changed due to the pandemic.

2. What sort of restrictions or challenges have you faced?

In terms of restrictions the only downer is no night tube so it really restricts me in terms of coming back home; and now a lot of the issue with booking cabs home are really long. That doesn’t really stifle my going out, but it does. You just get a bit annoyed when you’re paying £80 for a £30 like its annoying, but other than transport-wise nothing’s really restricted me.

3. What are the similarities and differences between partying pre and post pandemic?

A lot more people are out which is cool, you know it’s nice to see everyone out. I would say like a little annoying thing now is just like a lot of people that dont even party/that dont even like partying they’re all out. And its just stiffing up the place. They’re just there standing around, so yeah a lot of the vibe from like other people isn’t as it was before. Before, a lot of the time you’ll go to certain motives and you know you get the same vibes, it's reliable, but now its just packed and not vibes from everywhere. I still feel like a lot of people still enjoy themselves and I do see that so thats cool.

4. How has the pandemic highlighted the need for black spaces for you?

Yeah I feel like it has highlighted the need for black spaces. But I do feel like that need had been highlighted pre-pandemic. I would say like since 2018/2017 there’s been a big need for that: black spaces, black events, and things like that. Also I do feel like especially coming from London and living here we are spoilt for choice in terms of black events. There’s so many so chose from I feel like we do have it.

5. Do you reckon the crowds/vibes are better because we were locked up for so long?

Urm I feel like the vibes since lockdown they’re good. They’re not worse but I feel like, like I said in my previous comment, right now we’re experiencing a lot of people that don’t even go out go out so thats kind of a dampener because they’re not even here to get lit. On the other hand, we’re experiencing people that would normally come out and be stiff actually partying and seemingly enjoying themselves so I do feel like it’s brought out good and bad I would say.

6. Pre pandemic were you house parties over clubs & has that changed?

You know what, the main thing that the pandemic’s really changed for me is that I'm doing less clubbing and when I say clubbing I mean going to an actual club and actually doing up club nights. Clubbing was a bit bigger for me before because there were less parties, but now we’ve got more parties like Recess, DLT, Pitch, all of these black events happen all the time now. You don't even have time to fill your weekend with a club because there’s always a black motive so I would say thats not changed my preference but my preference has gone towards like black parties basically.

7. Any pandemic bank holiday reflections?

In terms of bank holiday reflections, I would say I’m just feeling overwhelmed and proud of the back community just because we’ve accomplished so much. I saw a lot of events going on this weekend and all of them sold out - literally a lot of events were selling out. So it was a great weekend for black people and I feel like it was a turning point and I hope that these venues are able to see us for who we are. Just fun-loving partygoers rather than ‘rowdy’ black people, so that it’s less uptight when we’re going to these parties because I do see a difference when I go and pay with a more mixed crowd in comparison with a black crowd. So yeah I would say there’s still a bit of prejudice for the way that we’re perceived but I hope that the bank holiday kinda proved them wrong.


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