You can predict how a night is going to pan out by the crowd outside a venue. Are they cutting shapes in the queue? Chatting with strangers? Or lining up in an orderly fashion? ‘When people walk in and they already start grooving, or if I hear people singing from early, we’re in for a good one,’ says Jojo Sonubi. Reading the crowd has become an art form for Jojo and his brother David, who in 2016 founded Recess, a Black club night programming parties across the capital. Their aim? To combine dancehall, UK hip hop, bashment and afrobeat music into one legendary package.
Six years, 20 team members and almost 80 parties later, Recess is now the bedrock of Black London’s nightlife scene, operating out of its HQ in Tottenham. The Sonubi brothers have created a party recipe that is incredibly moreish. ‘You see different friendships form. You see the same groups of friends coming back and watch people grow up,’ says Jojo.
When nightlife venues shut down on March 23 2020, Recess began airing its NS10v10 DJ battles via Instagram Live – gathering more than 20,000 viewers. It marked the birth of No Signal, an online #blackradio station playing music from across the African diaspora that now has listeners from more than 90 countries.
What started as partying with 70-something friends in Shoreditch grew to events hosting Stormzy, Headie One and GoldLink. ‘Stormzy was really enjoying himself, just dancing at the back,’ says Taja Boodie, Recess’s photographer and a producer at No Signal. ‘He was chilling with us for hours after the party,’ says Lodina Agyeman, who organises the front of house, with a laugh.’ We were like, “Mate, don’t you need to go home?”’
‘We make people feel comfortable just by being ourselves,’ says Agyeman. ‘Our crowd is unapologetically Black and Recess makes people feel comfortable in the kind of settings we create.’ Jojo Sonubi adds: ‘If you wanted to know what a young Black person in London looks like right now, look at Recess.’
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