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Five on it: we need to protect nightlife against Tory negligence

The lack of protection for night culture shows the government hierarchy of the arts, but we cannot let this be the end. Also, our new music round-up features Nabihah Iqbal, Ari Lennox, CHAI, Priya Ragu and BLACKPINK.

02 Oct 2020

Five on it photography is Stush performing at gal-dem’s fourth print launch party

Who is your favourite DJ? Where’s your favourite venue? What was your favourite club night? It feels weird trying to conjure up memories of the before times as we spiral into the cold and autumnal months of 2020, and the idea of being in a sweaty club with thumping music seems almost impossible for me to fathom at this point.

This isn’t me saying I don’t miss the club – it’s me saying there are still very understandable concerns over safety during this pandemic. But I’d argue we all should be just as concerned about the livelihood of those involved in the nighttime industries who are being treated, unsurprisingly, as unworthy of saving by this government. “It doesn’t make sense to continue supporting jobs where there simply isn’t work at the moment,” said health minister Helen Whately earlier this week regarding why people in the nightlife industry won’t be getting extra support, which is so wild. 

Yes, there was that giant arts package the government set out earlier in the pandemic, but concert venues etc were not the places that benefited. The lack of protection shows the tacit hierarchies (both steeped in classism and racism) that decide “high” and “low” culture – the Tory decisions that some types of art and culture are better off being funded than others. 

In London we have watched for years as venues have closed one by one – in Dublin, where I went to uni, almost none of my favourite venues exist anymore. The pandemic has seen this all sped up though. It is an excuse, at last, for the capitalist powers that be to get rid of these spaces of fun and joy and creativity for good. Homogenised hotels and luxury flats ahoy!

We cannot let this be the end. Write to your MP and demand better support, go on Bandcamp and buy work and merch by your favourite DJs (or else just slip them some cash on PayPal!), sign a petition for a venue that needs a hand. It’s hard to not feel helpless, but we’re not letting government negligence destroy one of the best things we have.

Anyway. That’s my ranting done! Here’s a somewhat more soothing five on it:

Nabihah Iqbal – ‘Is This Where It Ends’

Sure, the name feels a little on the nose for these Strange And Uncertain Times, but Nabihah Iqbal’s latest is more comforting than devastating. Full of vocal and guitar reverb so lush you could swim in it, this comes as part of a new compilation of South Asian artists called Chalo, out next month and raising money for the Human Rights Law Network and Zindagi Trust.

Ari Lennox – ‘Chocolate Pomegranate’

I guess the pandemic means it’s not strictly cuffing season in spite of the increasing hibernation weather, but I don’t see why you shouldn’t luxuriate in gorgeous, sensual tracks like this new one from Ari Lennox all the same. 

Priya Ragu – ‘Good Love 2.0’

Very often I have conversations like “where are the new brown popstars?”, and I am so glad that Tamil-Swiss artist Priya Ragu feels like she could be the latest answer. Lithely melding genre, lilting between Kaytranada-eqsue euphoric lounge-y stylings and some beautiful brushes of South Asian percussion, this debut single has me very ready to hear what’s next.

CHAI – ‘Donuts Mind If I Do’

One of my favourite gigs of 2019 was seeing CHAI in London. The Japanese pop group make music that is fun and full of cartoon-y colour and chaos. This new track floats dreamlike, pulling you into it’s sweet and soft world.


Straight-up pop is not necessarily my vibe but this latest album from the K-pop girl group has such great, fascinating production and punchy vocal delivery. Sure, we can (and should!) ask questions about the ways in which Blackness plays out in this particular musical space, but equally I think we can appreciate a very slick and catchy pop record.

You can follow the Five on it playlist on Spotify: