We support the EDL…

...the English Disco Lovers, that is. As Time Out teams up with the anti-racist group for their first party, we learn how to get down for a good cause


Unfortunate initialisms can happen to the best of us. Just ask the World Taekwondo Federation (or the Tokyo Institute of Technology for that matter). The fact that the English Disco Lovers share their initials with the English Defence League (EDL), however, is no accident. They formed as a way of subverting the EDL online – to make anyone searching for xenophobia encounter a load of puns and glitterballs instead. Fifty thousand Facebook fans and counting have united around the slogan ‘one world, one race, one disco’. Now they’re emerging into the real world this week to host a disco party for charity. Daft Punk and others may have made disco the sound of the summer, but this EDL are making the genre about more than just getting lucky.

The group’s leader is Alex Jones, a 21-year-old south Londoner currently working a full-time job as well as studying at university. ‘It can be pretty overwhelming,’ says Jones. ‘When it first got going, I’d be replying to a couple of hundred messages every day. It was incredible that so many people were enjoying it, though friends would tell me to get some sleep.’

The name came about after a camping trip Jones took last year. ‘One of the tents came with a St George’s Cross,’ Jones recalls. ‘Someone wrote “EDL” on it as a joke, and I changed it to “English Disco Lovers”. We were laughing and chatting about a manifesto and I started doodling all these reconfigurations of the EDL logo.’

Though Jones, who comes from a Quaker background, has marched and demonstrated many times (against Iraq and rising tuition fees among others), he found the tone of protest against the EDL’s marches unsettling: ‘You had the EDL chanting and being aggressive, but then the people on the other side were doing exactly the same thing. I felt they were just fighting fire with fire.’

By contrast, English Disco Lovers have inspired people to combat hatred with humour. Their Facebook page is a trove of goofy chants and slogans that reference disco greats. ‘No need for violence and destruction, strut your stuff to Brass Construction’ is a recent example. ‘Being racist is just silly, let’s crank up some vintage Philly’ is another, a play on Philadelphia’s soulful disco history. One of Jones’s proudest moments so far was when the campest of disco classics was used to counter the thuggish grunt of a recent EDL march in Brighton: ‘Loads of people were telling us how great it was to see smiling people dressed-up and singing: “Go on now go, walk out the door, just turn around now, ’cos you’re not welcome anymore” at the EDL.’

But why disco? Why not the English Duvet Lovers or the English Doughnut Lovers? ‘It’s ideal because of the rich history disco has,’ says Jones. ‘Lyrically, it promoted equality, acceptance and the idea of people coming together. Disco became synonymous with minority groups and therefore became a target for anyone who didn’t like them. So in a way, this is about flipping that on its head and saying, “We’re going to stand up and dance – what are you going to do about it?”’

Confronting the far-right online has unsurprisingly made Jones’s group a target. ‘I spit in your fucking cowardly faces’ is just one comment Jones picks out while flicking through recent messages. ‘You’re all bunch of twats’ reads another, while outright racism is also in the mix for good measure: ‘I want Islam eradicated. I am going to do what I can to make that come about,’ read a sinister message recently.

In defiance, Jones thinks it’s vital to transfer from online into the real world. They’d hardly be disco lovers if they didn’t want to party, after all. That’s why Time Out has teamed up with them for their event this Thursday at the Shoreditch Butchery (above XOYO). It’s being curated by Durrr – one of Time Out’s favourite DJ collectives – and features sets from disco dons and London legends Rory Phillips, The Lovely Jonjo and Kiwi. More importantly, the door money (a snip at just £3) will be going to charity.

London has a rich history of music events designed to stand up to bigotry – from Rock Against Racism in the ’70s to Love Music Hate Racism in the noughties. With the English Defence League increasingly becoming accepted in the mainstream, we think this chance to both dance and defy fits into that rich legacy very nicely indeed.

Support the English Disco Lovers on Facebook.

Want more? Read more clubbing interviews

Skream at XOYO: ‘I might as well play fucking Britpop!’

The dubstep pioneer-turned-disco don will be spending 13 whole weeks as the resident DJ at the Shoreditch club. We find out what he’s got up his sleeve He’s been tearing up dancefloors around the world for a decade. Now, DJ and producer Skream is coming home. He’s the latest resident DJ at Shoreditch club XOYO, following quarterly residency slots from Eats Everything, The 2 Bears, Jackmaster and Simian Mobile Disco. What this means, is that for the first time in a decade of touring, Skream can base himself in his hometown for three months. Considering how much time he’ll be spending at XOYO, he’d better get comfy behind the decks, too…How do you feel about the residency?‘It’s not something you can say “yes” to straight away. It’s a big chunk of time to be here, but London’s my home town. Then there’s the pressure of following the other residents. I’ve got to deliver!’Will it be difficult to maintain the same standard of DJing for 13 consecutive weekends?‘It’s really exiting, but at the same time it’s so scary. How do you play a disco set following Dimitri From Paris? I might as well play fucking Britpop!’Are DJ residencies still relevant?‘They’re so old-school. If you look back to early raves, it was all about residents. That’s what built a lot of club culture. People trusted the DJ.  [The XOYO residency] is taking it back to the dancefloor. It’s not just about being out, you’re there for the music.’You’ve said you see yourself primarily as someone who makes music and a DJ af

Read more

Ministry of Sound celebrates New York club Paradise Garage

Ahead of an upcoming club night paying tribute to NYC nightspot Paradise Garage, we ask the DJs involved why the club still matters over 30 years later It was only open for ten years, but the Paradise Garage and resident DJ Larry Levan are now the stuff of nightlife legend. From 1977 until 1987, Levan’s pioneering disco edits and wild sets blew minds, while the club was an underground disco haven for New York City’s gay and minority communities, as well as countless dedicated clubbers.London clubbing institution Ministry of Sound was inspired by the Garage, and is hosting a tribute to the venue and Levan, who died in 1992. The event, called A Night in Paradise, boasts a once-in-a-lifetime line-up of Garage alumni and newer DJs, and aims to raise £20,000 for two HIV charities, Terrence Higgins Trust and New York-based Gay Men’s Health Crisis. We asked six top DJs from the roster (which also includes Joey Llanos, Kenny Carpenter and soul singer Jocelyn Brown performing her own songs live) what the Paradise Garage legacy means to them. We’ve also collected together a selection of original photos and flyers from the glory days of Paradise Garage, below. A Night in Paradise live in London Popular nightlife this week Read more nightlife features Ministry of Sound celebrates Paradise Garage We speak to the DJs involved at a tribute night to the seminal NYC club New Year’s Eve parties and club nights in London See in 2015 with by partying hard at one of London’s best NYE

Read more

Hot Since 82's Taken party

Fancy being blindfolded, bundled on to a bus and led to a mystery location for a party? Now's your chance...

Read more

MNEK

The hot-topic, golden-voiced singer-songwriter is throwing a party for his first London headline show and it's going to be dirty and gritty

Read more

Comments

0 comments