Progress Bar
Club night (2015 - present)

Progress Bar is a club night I founded when I was artistic director of Lighthouse, and which we continued with Sonic Acts after I had left Brighton.

After 5 years, almost 50 episodes and hundreds of performances, the closure of clubs during COVID-19 has paused our run.

In April 2020, I was interviewed by Matthew Collin, author of Rave On, for a book on club culture and activism. This interview gives an idea of what Progress Bar is about.

Firstly - what is the concept of Progress Bar, why did you start it, and how has it evolved?

Progress Bar is a monthly club night dedicated to communal desire and collective joy. Every episode starts with a 90-minute talkshow with guests talking about their work in art, music and social action, and the material conditions that shape it. After the talks we move into the club, and, having spent time listening to the artists talk, dancing to their music will be even more magical.

It's a simple, but effective concept. Tickets for the talks and screenings are only 3 euros. This draws in a crowd of 80-100 already at 9pm. Once the talkshow is finished, the first artist will not play to an empty room. The club night starts at 10.30pm, and runs until 3am. Tickets are 6 euros in presale, and 9 at the door.

Since its beginning in 2015, more than 150 artists, academics and activists from all over the planet have featured at Progress Bar, such as Elysia Crampton, Le1f, Bbymutha, Nkisi, Rosa Pistola, Shyboi, Nidia Minaj, Eaves, Klein, Gaika, DJ Nigga Fox, Sam Rolfes, Akwugo Emejulu, Ash Sarkar, Flavia Dzodan, Metahaven, Cakes da Killa, DJ Lycox, Linn da Quebrada, Flohio, James Massiah, Toxe, Evian Christ and many more.

After one season in Brighton, and episodes in Vilnius, Kharkiv and Pristina, we are currently (April 2020) in our fourth and final season in Amsterdam, this time taking place at OT301.

On what basis do you select the artists for your line-up?

On their music, their lived experience, and their point of view. Our aim is to platform underrepresented artists, both nationally and internationally, who often make music that isn't a genre yet.

What do you want to inspire in the audience that attends your events?

Joy. Love. Solidarity.

In recent years there have been increasing numbers of overtly political initiatives within dance music culture. Why do you think this is?

What else is to be done? The rise of the populist far right, institutional racism, economic inequality, the climate emergency... and now COVID-19.

We long for dance music to forget our sorrows. To feel ecstatic. To be in love. The coming together in a dark room to dance to loud, brain-tingling music all watched over by screens, LEDs and strobes can still be a revolutionary, liberatory and life-affirming act.

To paraphrase the great music critic Karl Marx, dance music helps us achieve self-actuallisation.

In conservative countries like Georgia or Kosovo, dance music culture works to promote liberal values of tolerance. What positive role can dance music culture play in liberal Western Europe?

Like all art, dance music is a continuation of political education by other means. With Progress Bar we support a scene that shapes community, that abandons the austerity of liberalism, and that embraces the plenitude of communism.

In your opinion, what are the social and political values of dance music culture?

All of them.