Once based in a one room basement club in London’s filthy-but-creative Kingsland Road, the once-monthly shubz has been in full steal-your-man, slow-grind swing for almost a decade and shows no sign of slowing even in the face of torrid venue closures and rising-rents. It’s remained a safe-house for good-timers earning it’s current status as East London’s busiest party, famous for pulling the most diverse crowds and DJS, all looking to wile out until the lights come on.
We decided to commemorate the near decade of London’s sexiest dance floor by chatting to co-founder Loren Platt, programmer Rivah Feseha and regular DJ, James Massiah, about the Work It family, the night’s longevity, nostalgia, it’s continued success and Loren’s vow to remove any DJ that plays Biggies’ Juicy.
How did Work It come to be?
Loren: I met Sara El Dabi (co-founder) when I was 18, at London College of Communication, we were both studying graphic design and we lived for raving in the West End. That was life. Everyone else on the course was pretty artsy and they were going out listening to bands. Which I was too, but a huge part of me was still that R n’B girl who wanted to dress up and go out. We found Visions, which was then just one room, and we made flyers to promote our night, put some balloons up and just crossed our fingers and hoped people would come. Which they did. We thought this is proper fun, let’s keep doing this.
The flyers and the artwork are really integral to Work It’s identity…
Yeah. Back in the day we were cutting out pictures from magazines and album covers and glueing them down and photocopying them, they were covered in spelling mistakes. There wasn’t a scene in East London when we started. It just didn’t exist. The first few flyers even have the bus routes noted down on them so people could figure out how to get to Dalston. Facebook wasn’t a thing.
Did you start by thinking of it as a business?
No, not when we started, but I guess that’s instinctive when you don’t have money and you want it. My family background is very business orientated. I’m from Southport, which is a seaside town. My dad has always worked for himself and without even realising, it seeped into my way of being. Money was never really a motive, but survival was. Once we stopped working 9-5 jobs and realised we could do our own thing and live, we felt empowered.
Why did you want to create a club night?
We started it to have somewhere where we could dance with our friends and play music, to have somewhere we could go to feel comfortable being ourselves. Music has always been the reason. We all share music, the whole crew- sending each other files all the time. If I’m struggling I listen to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. It’s all therapy for me.
Did music come to you via your family?
Music came to me from my mates and from school. When you live somewhere that doesn’t reflect who you want to be, when you’re from somewhere where you can’t be yourself, music becomes that outlet.
What have been your most memorable parties?
Rivah: The first time I came, for my 18th birthday at Visions, I rolled up in my wet look mini skirt and D.I.Y bleached crop top.
L: Yeah Rivah was there from the beginning. I think our Valentine’s specials are always a thing for us because the dance floor is very sexually charged. People go to work it to mingle and dance and loads of people hookup. There have even been a few Work It weddings too!
R: My favourite Work It to date would probably be our last NYE party. Everyone was dressed to the nines.
When did you get to that point where you thought “this is becoming more than a club night?”
R: There's a lot of love, support and genuine happiness that circulates around us and keeps the bond strong.
L: Yeah. What makes it more than clubbing, is the creative friendships it’s birthed. Now it’s my new family. The best is when were all there.
Are there any songs that you regularly play that always go off?
L: I’ve vetoed a lot. It’s been 9 years and I don’t want to still hear the same music. Dig deeper people, there’s more than Juicy. If someone plays that I’ll evict them- man that’s lazy.
How has clubbing changed since 2008?
L: You can’t get a venue now. Visions is the only surviving club in Hackney from the late 80s early 90s. It’s a force unto itself. Don’t get it twisted, Visions is what it is because of the owner, Eddie. He’s my club-dad for life.
Why do you think Work It has enjoyed such longevity?
L: We've thrown parties every month since April 2008. It’s the key to everything- consistency. You don’t even have to be the best but if you’re consistent you will get somewhere, fact. It’s a womb too. It’s a coming of age spot because there’s space to be yourself and grow there. No one’s judging you at Work It. Everyone can be themselves. There’s no one type of person who comes through the door. It’s a creative, supportive womb.