If you were around, and paying attention, in the mid to late 90’s you’ll remember the invention of the nonsense that was ‘The Super Club’. Stemming from a rise in the desire to be associated with a certain club, or a need to ‘be seen’ at a particular venue, The Super Club started a trend that took interesting dance venues, coated them with a luxury status, and ruined everything that was ever special about them. For my mind, the more super the club got, the more awful they became; a trend that still exists today where various venues and promoters look for style over substance, price over performance, and conformity over content.
Away from such nonsense, interesting, and unique promoters and clubs do still exist and stepping into this space, local artist in residence Geoff Kirkwood, aka Man Power, has started the ‘Us & Them’ night at World Headquarters, a weekly party that invites the best underground DJs in the world to play alongside local North East DJ talent who want to play interesting, unique, records.
“When I first started going to clubs, the reason you would go would be to hear records that you didn’t hear in other places” confirms Geoff when describing his intent behind Us & Them “and that’s what we want to achieve with US, we want to build an extension of World Headquarters where we can create a place of genuine diversity that’s diverse in sound, diverse in attendees, diverse in backgrounds and diverse in DJ’s”.
Part of the aim of Us and Them, aside from its manifesto which includes being anti hype and proudly outsider, is the desire to create a space where the DJ actually choose records that you don’t hear in every other venue, and where you’re not made to feel awful if you’re not in the latest Prada; “When I was young I managed to de-programme myself by being around people and music that was different to me, and I don’t think that happens too much today in the dance world as there’s such a push by promoters to make everything look and feel the same. How can you build your own identity as a person if you’re in places that want you to think and act the same as everyone else?”.
Opening up Us and Them just after lockdown (“the first night was really successful, but with it being the weekend after lockdown it was probably always going to be busy”) the Us and Them crew are already a number of weeks in to their residency, and building on the confidence that comes with early success (“it’s great that we’ve been busy, but what’s more important is that it’s been with the right type of people, people who want to be diverse and interesting and don’t only want style of music”).
Looking ahead there’s already bookings well into the later part of the year, and as much as Geoff is looking forward to some of the larger names (“honestly, some of the dj’s we’ve got booked might well be some of the most interesting dj’s around in the world today with really interesting taste”) it’s the blend of local talent that’s also a real driver within Us and Them (“we’re really excited for the likes of Megan and Kris who are local DJs and offer new ideas and that’s the real joy of the club”) and the real intent for the night “when you leave a good venue which has played interesting music and had the right atmosphere, you should be a different person to the person who walked into the venue. That’s exactly what I want with Us”.