10 Black-Run UK Club Nights You Need To Know Now

From hip-hop and R&B to Amapiano and Afro-house, these parties have got you fully covered.

Tazer Black & Chuckie Online (R&B & Slow Jams) / Photography by Laurence Howe

When nightlife, and leaving the house in general, was snatched from us via the pandemic in 2020, those two years dramatically refocused things for us all. Suddenly, our priorities were completely changed and, with all that time on our hands, we started to realise we’d taken certain things for granted.

There were also some that realised that there were certain things that were too important to accept compromise, specifically when it came to culture and nightlife for Black Britons. For a long time, a mixture of stereotyping by the music and nightlife industries mixed in with racist policing meant that Black British culture was often represented in clubs and venues in only a few small, narrow ways. 

So when even that was taken away, some promoters (vets and otherwise) decided that when nightlife did eventually return, they would never accept another mediocre night out. Throughout 2020 and the first half of 2021, online events like No Signal’s NS10V10 and all the DJ sets and Instagram Lives forged connections between like-minded people. With Black music dominating charts and dancefloors alike, these promoters started to realise how many people were just as ready for Black-run/owned events to become the norm rather than the niche.

With that being said, we decided to list 10 parties that should most definitely be on your radar (if they’re not already, of course). Dive in after the jump.

R&B & Slow Jams

Launch date: October 2021
Why you should go to their parties: R&B ain’t dead! And you’d only have to attend one R&B & Slow Jams event to see why it will forever be famous.

You might know the names Tazer Black and Chuckie Online for being podcasters in the worlds of UK music and culture but they both also hold lengthy CVs as promoters across London, having individually seen great success with the club nights they’ve put on over the years. Joining forces as the pandemic started easing up and we were allowed back outside, R&B & Slow Jams sees the pair of music lovers bring their love of—well, R&B and slow jams, to the masses, and it has now reached a point where selling out thousand-capacity venues has become the norm. “Both myself and Chuckie have always been R&B heads,” Tazer explains. “It’s a genre we’ve always personally connected with and, somewhere along our friendship, we realised that it was something we shared in common. I randomly threw an R&B-only night midway through 2021 and Chuckie mentioned he’d been thinking about doing something similar, and it just made sense for this to be something we could do together.” The demand for R&B music is stronger than ever. “I think a lot of the magic that keeps bringing people back to the events is the genre itself, and all the amazing music under the umbrella of R&B & Slow Jams,” Tazer adds. “We can’t take credit for that, but I do think we’ve done well to curate the way we play the music and overall experience throughout the night.” Expect a UK and international tour imminently. —Joseph ‘JP’ Patterson


Launch date: December 2016
Why you should go to their parties: As much about the crowd as the music, a whole community has formed around RECESS and you’re pretty much guaranteed to make friends for life.

Co-founded by Jojo and David Sonubi, the original idea for RECESS was born in the mid-2010s when they noticed that there were a lot of events in Black British music that had no Black people involved in significant roles. At the time, Jojo was making a name for himself curating the Black In The Day series, a submission-based cultural archive documenting events, club nights and gigs in Black British music history. The first parties were cosy affairs with 70-odd friends, held in small venues like the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch, but it quickly snowballed. Soon, they graduated to XOYO, then Village Underground, and then, in 2021, RECESS celebrated its fifth anniversary by filling out all three rooms at fabric. Still growing after all these years, they’ve hosted events with Stormzy, Headie One and GoldLink, touching down everywhere from Accra to Ibiza. This year brought another milestone: for their 100th party, the Sonubi brothers pulled off a triumphant takeover of Dreamland Margate theme park, dubbed ‘RECESSland’. Through it all, though, they’ve always kept that community element at the heart of what they do. What Jojo and David have built is impressive when put into stats and achievements, but what’s truly special is the social and cultural value of RECESS. As well-curated as the line-ups are, and as impressive as the brand is, it’s the friendships, memories and experiences that RECESS’ devoted followers cherish most.
—James Keith

Dankie Sounds

Launch date: August 2021
Why you should go to their parties: They play the most accessible Amapiano and Afro-house in LDN. There’s something here for everyone who has an interest in African electronic music.

London-based collective Dankie Sounds have taken it worldwide in the short time they’ve been around. Having launched during 2021’s lockdown, after immersing themselves in South Africa’s Amapiano culture, friends Kaz, Sama, Tunde and James have gone from strength to strength, going from a 170-capacity venue to selling out thousands of tickets. Whether it’s at one of their own parties at  Boxpark, collaborating with other Black nightlife brands like Recess or DLT Malta, or their Ibiza Weekender festival which successfully launched this summer, there’s no party like a Dankie party. Immersive graphics, fluid dancers, props hanging from the ceiling and glo-sticks galore, with an eclectic line-up of DJs from both home and abroad—and with wildly popular spin-offs such as ‘Dankie Rooms’, which invites DJs to curate line-ups (previous headliners include Juls and Neptizzle) or ‘Ladies Love Dankie’, which celebrates all-women DJ line-ups—Dankie is always a good time. —Rahel Aklilu

Powered By Waves

Launch date: June 2016
Why you should go to their parties: Vibes for days!

Powered By Waves is the tag you can trust on any party flyer. Starting off as a side project from Kyle Craig, an accomplished audio and visual producer in his own right, Waves parties had been bubbling and making noise in London for a couple years. However, in 2022, the approach changed slightly when Kyle realised that with his network, he could help empower people to throw their own parties regularly and feed a niche in the market that way. He’s worked with presenters like Henrie and Jourds to throw large-scale birthday parties, taken Waves to Croatia to program a week-long boat party, but more regularly, you can find them powering two parties that are becoming staples in the scene: Damnshaq’s House and Jay Berry’s Playground

Damnshaq is the larger-than-life DJ and presenter who was already throwing motives with some extra help from Kyle, but after a short hiatus and an official partnership, they levelled up, taking it from Boxpark to Outernet and continuing to grow party by party. Expect the speakers to jump, and the main man to jump even higher, as Shaq works as both the MC and the DJ and brings his infectious energy to the function.

Jay Berry is a model, DJ and presenter, who, after amassing a massive following online, wanted to spread his love of music out to the world. After linking up with Kyle through radio, the rest was history. Dubbed Jay Berry’s Playground, it really is that, where he brings together an eclectic mix of DJs together to have fun across all sounds. You can’t ever guess what you’re going to hear at one of these nights, but you do know you’re going to have fun! —Jason ‘Scully’ Kavuma


Launch date: December 2021
Why you should go to their parties: The collective champions music, art and culture from the African diaspora and at their parties, they play everything from Alté to gqom and the very best coming out of the motherland.

Mothaland was founded as a collective aimed at reshaping the narrative around the African lens and exploring African music. The all-woman team, led by founder DJ Dibs, has done just that in the space that they’ve curated. Championing grassroots talent on their radio show is reflected in the party line-ups, which host a healthy mix of resident DJs (Don’t Call Me Tako, Dibs, Adesuwa + host Tsunami Tania) and carefully picked guests (Tone, Emma Korantema, Janelle Wynter…). In building a community that centres education and cultural engagement as well as enjoyment, Mothaland has been able to put on parties that explore Blackness in all its intersections and provide a space of comfort. When describing the typical Mothaland crowd, founder Dibs tells Complex UK: “It’s quite intimate, but growing. We tend to attract mostly young, music lovers, creatives, Black diaspora-leaning, but open to everyone.” Having hosted their first Mothaland in the Motherland (Ghana) in May 2023, and with Dibs’ sights set firmly on New York City next, these guys are more than ready for world domination. —Rahel Aklilu

DLT (Days Like This)

Launch date: May 2016
Why you should go to their parties: Besides being day events—so getting home on public transport isn’t an issue—DLT balances its US-influenced roots with a distinctly London edge.

When Anthony Iban and Michael ‘MK’ Amusan, co-founders of DLT (Days Like This), moved back to London after five years in New York, daytime parties weren’t really a thing over here, at least not the way they are in the States. Seeing a prime opportunity to create something special, they teamed up with friends Bosun Apata and Ife Awosika, who had both been making regular visits to NYC, and together they started hosting daytime parties. Initially, the aim was simply to put on events for their friends and to satisfy their appetite for the kind of party that wasn’t really on offer at the time. But as it grew, it became more than that. Like a lot of the parties on this list, it became a spot where young, Black Londoners knew they could go and be themselves and feel completely at home. In the years since their debut, Iban and Amusan have taken DLT worldwide with events in Lagos, Accra, and Miami. Last year, the DLT family took it even further with their debut festival, DLT Malta (a feat they repeated this year with plans for a 2024 edition under way). It was an enourmous success, proving they could expand the scale of DLT without compromising its core values, bringing with them that same sense of safety and familiarity wherever they choose. —James Keith

Room 187

Launch date: August 2021
Why you should go to their parties: “Because this is a space you can go and enjoy R&B, sing to your heart’s content, play along and feel no judgement. It’s the perfect experience in a place full of people who love the same music. It’s an event like no other.”—DJ Kopeman

Having started on Clubhouse during the tail end of 2020, Room 187, the brainchild of DJ Kopeman, Mr. Ben and Mike, started off as a Who Sampled? interactive game online. Once the pandemic parameters were lifted, it only made sense to play in real life, but they didn’t stop there: they developed by adding a karaoke element, in which the audience could put their name down and perform to the crowd their favourite classic records, and had audience apply in teams to go head-to-head in a three-round live game show. Focusing on R&B slow jams, with a little New Jack Swing and a dash of ‘90s hip-hop, this party is like if Family Fortunes met Lip Sync Battle—but wavier versions. You’ll laugh, you’ll dance, and if you’re feeling brave, you might sing! But there’s nothing like being in a room full of people all enjoying the same era of music. You might hear something from Ginuwine, turn around the room, and hundreds of people are singing to the point they could burst a vessel from passion. The guys have gone from strength to strength, having legends like Lemar, (myself) and Starboy Nathan perform at their party, Missy Elliott tweeting like a regular fan, and they’re even now taking the party to Gran Canaria and Texas, before coming back and embarking on a tour of major cities in the UK. This one is a future classic. —Scully


Launch date: April 2023
Why you should go to their parties: The self-described ‘house party 4 da clubs’ is a night where anything goes, and the talented residents and guest DJs keep you guessing whilst moving.

Founded by creative powerhouses AyChibs and ELLA DHC, the only music policy at Shindig is that there is no policy. Although only seven months old, Shindig has already carved out a lane for itself as the place to be for those willing to go on a sonic adventure and not take the night too seriously. Blending everything from soul and Amapiano to Baile funk and dancehall, party-goers are in the trustworthy hands of heavyweight guests DJs such as like LORA and Chef Dee. Shindig’s fun lies in its eclecticism, whether it’s the varied line-up or AyChibs’ own chaotic sets that often feature a classic N-Dubz banger (he’s a big fan). The night’s strength also lies in the alternative approach it has taken to Black nightlife, shunning any convention about what this union should sound like. Expect dingy, poorly-lit venues for maximum underground vibes. —Rahel Aklilu


Launch date: April 2022
Why you should go to their parties: “The idea of Piem is that life can change in a night, but I don’t recommend coming if you just want to observe. Bring energy and I’m sure you’ll get what you need right back.”—Kehn 

PlayPiem is the young Gs’ new favourite night out. The brainchild of Gen Z reconnaissance man Kehn, also known as K9, he wanted to find a way of linking up his friends in and from different cities, while playing all the newest underground artists you might not hear out on a random night in Shoreditch. You might have seen Kehn work as part of the four minds behind streetwear brand WallStreet Mafia. Or his photography and videography skills, which have seen him working with the likes of Trapstar and Unknown T. If not, he’s in the studio, managing one of the most exciting artists right now in BXKS. But I say all this to say: PlayPiem was born as a culmination of this adaptability, and this multifacetedness. It’s often said there are no subcultures anymore, and that the internet has made the world too small. Well, PlayPiem is here to change that. Starting in 2018 as a playlist, it grew into a full-on creative studio. After four years, and working on a few launch events, in 2022, they did their first house party, and the rest is (recent) history. Streetwear, alt music and newness all meet at this intersection to create and show something fresh, while also carrying the same DIY feeling of yesteryear. Doing unique things like a block party in Finsbury Park that shut down the whole ends, bringing back house parties in secret locations, pub lock-ins, and connecting with like-minded folk in Paris and NYC, this party might just be the best-kept secret, but it can’t stay that way for long. —Scully

LAFV (Love At First Vibe) 

Launch date: April 2017
Why you should go to their parties: Based on a foundational love of music, their open format nights will introduce you to a new favourite DJ or a completely new genre.

Love At First Vibe have built a steady presence through panels, parties and podcasts since their launch in 2017. Their self-described commitment to “being a place of discovery” has ensured that London’s finest DJs and performers across all genres have featured on a LAFV line-up at some point (previous appearances include Charisse C, Juls, DJ Larni, Donae’O and Jordss). Refusing to be boxed into any one sound, according to founders Abe, Ant and Sean and resident DJs TKama, Akay and G-Spot, “LAFV has built a community of music lovers who simply want to experience good music and talented DJs.” As well as residencies at Sketch, shows at the Hackney Social in conjunction with the Black Eats Market, and their annual Carnival after-party, LAFV tap into their community with curated nights such as their ‘Ladies Night’, which features an all-woman line-up of up-and-coming talent. LAFV parties have a guaranteed good vibe with a cool, mixed crowd of open-eared, like-minded music heads. —Rahel Aklilu

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