In this instalment of Residents’ Hour we celebrate (and mourn the death of) Low Life, a party that has been quietly thriving between New York & London for the past two decades, including forays into putting on their own festival. The two founding members, Bill Brewster & Frank Broughton, went on to start the DJHistory website & write Last Night A DJ Saved My Life, the first comprehensive history of club culture. On Halloween Low Life threw their last dance at London’s Corsica Studios and were gracious enough to record Frank’s opening set for us. Hit play and scroll down for an insight into one of clubbing’s best kept secrets.
I love the fact that Low Life filled big rooms for 20 years and most of London clubland never heard of it. And I love the fact we killed it when it was at the peak of its powers. It was a professional house party, never a club, and since DJhistory swallowed up any profits, money-making was rarely part of the picture. Remember how KLF burnt a million pounds, the cash they made from their number one pop hit? At the last Low Life Bill and I were going to get up on stage and set fire to a fiver.
For two decades we collected great people: ravers, spotters, divas, hotties, nutters, freaks, but above all, friends.
For two decades we collected great people: ravers, spotters, divas, hotties, nutters, freaks, but above all, friends. People came to Low Life because they knew someone who was already family. My greatest kick was seeing younger kids come for the first time, venturing bravely through the crowd and realising – my god, after years of dabbling with hip and aloof, this is how you actually have fun.
For the uninitiated, Low Life started in Harlem in 1995. The magical New York house scene of the ’90s was where I met my longtime buddy and writing partner Bill Brewster. It was our nights at Sound Factory, and the people we met there, that gave us the excitement and inspiration to write Last Night A DJ Saved My Life, our history of dance music. After Sound Factory closed we threw a series of monster Harlem house parties that we eventually took back home and called Low Life. We’re proud that our little night joined the dots between the communal smiles of the British raves and the dark togetherness of ’90s New York.
I love warming up. Playing whatever the fuck you want like it’s your living room, then gradually collecting the energy together and pointing it in the right direction. There are some shocking mixes in here. The embarrassed half of me would love to smooth them out for you; the other half is proud of not really caring. It was a very special night and the tunes should speak for themselves. Thanks to everyone who made Low Life so bright and unique over the years – the DJs who ruled, the divas who served, the crew who brought the magic, and above all, the hardest-working dancefloor in showbusiness. Low Life loves you.
Sadly, Low Life is no more. We can only hope for another party to carry on the legacy. The next Residents’ Hour comes from the city of Tel Aviv.
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