The Year Music Returned - Best of '21 at The Standard, London

In advance of our NYE parties with Benji B, Loose Ends & Dele Sosimi, our Director of Music & Culture, Nick Hadfield, shares a photo diary from the year we returned to music IRL.
Looking back on the year that gave us hits like “Stay At Home”, “Rule of Six” and “Plan B”, it's been quite the journey seeing London music culture bounce back to its prime across the city.

This time last year we were in the depths of winter lockdown, and the concept of listening to music in a space with others had become a distant abstract thought. Having grown up in a city constantly immersed in music, the biggest interruption to experiential music culture for 70 years had left me in a vacuum. Although I felt the importance of what was missing and the yearning was there, the numbness of isolation made it impossible to visualise being amongst other bodies moving in harmony, no matter how many live streams I tuned into.

When it came to re-launching the cultural programme at The Standard, London back in May, I knew I wasn’t the only one who would benefit from a gradual re-acclimation to the rhythms of parties, rather than the euphoric 48-hour rave-orgy that a more primitive part of me had fantasised about. It's crazy to think we weren’t legally allowed to dance at the time, so what better way to start things off with a jazz series; music that can embody an innate sense of rhythmic and melodic freedom and still be totally enjoyable without standing up, though many people did!

May: Live On Ten

We kicked off a weekly lunchtime session in Decimo with live music from jazz artists Dominic J Marshall, Groove Science, and Dele Sosimi

June: The Chessidency

One of my favourite things about lockdown was crossing paths with Donna Leake and Haseeb Iqbal, who waxed lyrical about their mutual appreciation of chess, music and play-on-words. And thus, The Chessidency was born - a Tuesday night in The Library Lounge where Haseeb and Donna play records acquired specifically to enhance chess gameplay. The evenings also featured impromptu live performances from renowned musician-come-chess masters like Shabaka Hutchings, Mansur Brown & Kadialy Kouyate

July: Sunday Vibrations

Like with The Chessidency’s Tuesday, Sunday nights presented an opportunity to showcase new musical projects from London-based musicians. Having been heavily inspired by experiences at Total Refreshment Centre and Church of Sound, teaming up with TRC to launch a monthly Sunday was a total no-brainer. 2021 saw invigorating sessions with artists like Modes of Flight (Maisha), Yohan Kebede Trio (Kokoroko) and Anthony Joseph.
We were also pleased to host Enny’s first-ever live show…

She was very happy afterwards, as were we....
We were also glad to welcome DJs back into London’s cosiest DJ booth, The Sound Studio, which seemed to bring some even more smiles and good times.

August: TheirStories

2021 also saw the launch of a series of intergenerational queer conversations in The Library Lounge curated by Laurie Belgrave, founder of The Chateau, featuring artists and thinkers from Jeffrey Hinton to Bloolips to Mark Thompson, a monthly drag bingo in Double Standard with the marvellous Grace Shush, and Faboo TV hosted an exquisite evening with David Hoyle, Eliza Rose and Sippin’ T
Occasionally things escalated into something a bit wilder...

July: Magic In Double Standard

Double Standard had its moments too…. One of my favourites being our first collaboration with STEP WIZE for Wesley Joseph’s album launch. Having made his record “Ultraviolet” during lockdown, this was the first time he’d heard his music in front of a crowd which made for a magical night. 

Sound of The Summer

We also opened The Rooftop with panoramic views of our beautiful city in Summer 2021. There was only one way to close off a wonderous debut season - collaborating with the legendary Boiler Room to celebrate the indisputable sound of Summer - Amapiano. The sunset session included sets from some of South Africa’s most exciting producers and DJs, including Vigro Deep, TxC, Cassper Nyovest, Mr JazziQ & DBN Gogo.

September: Fashion Week

September brought the return of London Fashion Week, and so Decimo and Sweeties came into a life of their own. The standout parties were Fashion East’s 20th Birthday with Dazed, Brown's, and cocktails from CÎROC, and The Face magazine issue launch in collaboration with Apron Records.

October: Sweeties Secrets

Sweeties returned to its role as London’s most “hush-hush” party space - we threw a bunch of secret gigs, record and magazine launches and after-parties. Personal highlights include Caroline Polachek’s after-show with a rather wonderful lineup (Mura Masa, Danny Harle, AG Cook, VTSS) and an incredible secret DJ from Arca, ASAP Ferg’s after-party, Boy Brother Friend x Tiwani Gallery Frieze Party, Cid Rim’s album launch, ICA x Radio alHara and a series of secret album release parties with a Certified Lover Boy. 

October: Hotel of Horror

Taking inspiration from classic horror cinema, we collaborated with Deeper Into Movies to turn the building into an Overlook-Hotel style location for Halloween. We showed mutant interpretations of horror films by Dario Argento, Stanley Kubrick and Carl Theodor Dreyer and invited one of my favourite psych-folk bands Vanishing Twin to play live. Their improvised set was described as a “Dadaist sound collage from the horrorscope” and was as twisted as it sounds! 

December: Winter Function

Our most memorable party in December was also possibly the wildest of the year - NTS Radio, Telfar and PDA - a triangle of goodness that was always destined to alchemise into a beautiful thing. PDA parties lead by example in their creation of a unique space for self-expression - the dancefloor energy is like none other. Their coming together with NYC’s Telfar and NTS marked an incredibly important celebration of queer POC influence on cross-Atlantic music and fashion culture. Thanks to Mischa, Carrie, Akin, Total Freedom, Tweaks and Ojerime for heating things up that cold Winter’s night... and to CÎROC for keeping us equally as warm. 
And to wrap things up, we’re super excited to be throwing a final farewell to 2021 - NYE with Benji B, Loose Ends, Dele Sosimi, Total Refreshment Centre... what a treat to finish off the year!

Ticket available here


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