So at a time

 when we are 

forced to

create distance

.

.

.

I remember 

a time where

was the norm

togetherness

Ubuntu djs

artwork by

Fay-Orion Antar

Listen to

the Music

Listen to the Memory

MusicMemoryUbuntuCollective.png
 

Sometimes I look back fluently, memories dancing at the depths of my conscious, waking up a feeling I've since lost since the beginning of what feels like the end. So at a time when we are forced to create distance, I remember a time where togetherness was the norm. 

Tiny droplets reminding us rain is never a distant memory. A lingering emotion that can only be experienced, not described, washed over me because how could I encapsulate Galway’s Rag Week?

I remember the thickness of the atmosphere, the cold, crisp February air kissing my cool body

Hear This Memory

Hear This Memory

I remember the journey through Eyre Square, pushing past endless queues, various stages of inebriation, streams of club promoters, with one goal in mind – getting to my set. And as my nerves have almost swallowed me up, I was drawn to the neon sign, that read, “Halo”. 

 

I let my tunnel vision lead me to my destination. Talking to the bouncers was clockwork for Bongani. They had seen his face countless of times, but this night was different. This night was the night he had brought Ubuntu Collective with him. And there wasn't many DJ collectives walking through those blacked out doors, so naturally they took a little longer to convince. 

I remember the anticipation, trying to get set up and untangling wires at rocket speed, running around an almost empty club like headless chickens, just to be ready for opening time. 

Opening time, the beginning, it was our duty to set the mood and tone for the night and with the spirit of Rag Week already high, we could only do our best.

The deck was our only weapon, each spin recalibrating the room and the beat started low, like the humming of an old refrigerator, building up like war drums, animalistic growls, that set our inner beast free. 

And as the vocalist began chanting he seemed to summon a crowd, they came flocking bustling through the doors, escaping the harsh weather, seeking shelter in good company, good music and liquid passion. And as the sounds pick up speed, they mirror it, as though there's a code within all of us unlocked by each beat. 

Bodies flowed through each note in a kaleidoscope that paints the room in shades of love, or maybe it's the strobe lights and fog machine.

It felt almost dizzying, intoxication erasing my nerves and in that moment, I was no longer at my local club, it was me, my laptop, playing my favourite songs like I once did in my living room and I was mixing songs like second nature. Vibrations willing to escape my fingertips.

Hear This Memory

Hear This Memory

Some songs caught me in a trance, shifting every soul in my body to their resonance.

The music took me to one of my favourite memories, which was the one I was creating right then with my friends, I almost forgot about the hundreds of bodies that filled the space, spilling drinks, falling over themselves, solo dancers enjoying their self-made spotlights, natural born performers dancing, and drawing in their own crowd.

Some fine partners, where the strangers are for, some seek the night through their phone screens, capturing everything. Some are just there to escape the loneliness and some just music lovers here for the tunes.

And as most in score too much of everything can make you sick, so I passed the decks to the next group member, taking a well-deserved break, anything to dry up the sweat that I had been pulling at various parts of my body. I felt trapped moving through the masses that seemed determined to keep me locked in the dance floor.

With great courage, I stumbled my way to the smoking area, the smoking area, where there is air – as contradictory as it is –  the air is almost still, like a fog laced with the unmistakable tinge of tobacco. The music sounds like thuds hitting against glass doors underwater.

Taking comfort in the dimness of the place, I found solace in a Marlboro light, but as quickly realized I have no lighter. A hero came in the form of a faceless stranger, who really liked my music choice, but would still like to hear their favourite artists by the end of the night. And even though I knew I couldn't play it, I humoured them just for the lighter.

But breaks are short-lived and I was manifested back at the bar behind a hoard of thirsty strangers, waiting patiently for a merciful bartender. Eventually after what feels like eons, I've got as many glasses as I could carry – which would be two – preparing for the small battle that is walking through the dance floor, back to the decks.

Hear This Memory

Hear This Memory

Looking back, my highlights of the night would be the euphoric feeling you only get on the stage, watching people enjoying a moment you have created. Oh, and a friend of ours in his uncontainable excitement, hopped on the stage and began dancing as if he was performing at a music festival.

I remember when we finished our set, everyone was chanting, "One more tune," their voices growing louder by the second, until the bouncer gave in, giving us the go ahead.

And as “Sicko Mode” began to play, the bouncer couldn't help but start dancing too. Suddenly everyone in the collective had abandoned the decks, dancing with him, that night in retrospect is the reason why I do this.