Move over, Tim Burgess, there’s a new listening party in town. The Indie Disco, taking place every Friday night, is a burgeoning community raising spirits, money and much more. Sam Lambeth spoke to some of its MVPs.
Friday night, 8pm.
In Leicester, a woman is choosing between an array of outfits, unsure of whether to slum in a band t-shirt or swoon in a smart dress. Down in the Northeast, the kids are put to bed to the sound of cider being glugged. In Liverpool, a musician puts down his acoustic, chooses his finest Fred Perry and gets ready for another eventful night.
Except none of these people are going anywhere.
It’s a lockdown, for one. But, perhaps more than that, they are fervent attendees of the Indie Disco, a weekly event that almost puts Tim Burgess’ listening parties to shame. Every Friday night at 9pm, the long-standing music fan Rob Dignen shows off his latest Spotify playlist, which includes floor fillers from established icons and up-and-coming acts.
Around the UK – and even further afield – his disciples hit ‘play’, share a laugh on Twitter, down a few drinks and remember those heady days when clubbing was actually allowed.
“The restrictions mean no one can do what they love,” explains Rob, who is based in Hartlepool. “Friday is my favourite day of the week – work finished, time for a beer, good music. Except I can’t go to the pub. Hence, the Indie Disco was born. Music connects people, and I think my taste is pretty good. It creates a positive vibe, allows people to let their hair down and creates a real sense of togetherness.”
The popularity of the Indie Disco is nothing short of amazing. Music fans, bloggers, music managers and, of course, musicians take part, singing along to the playlist, downing drinks and trading war stories.
Midlands-based musician Jake Davey is a regular attendee and says the reasons for its success are simple. “Great music, great people, and a chance to have a dance around and forget about the world falling to pieces for a few hours,” he beams. “It’s given people the chance to have a ‘night out’ again,” Jake continues. “It’s so nice to interact with people who have similar interests and music tastes. It makes you forget everything for a while and allows you to have a good time.”
Those who appreciate the classics will enjoy Rob’s Friday night playlist. Legendary songs from Oasis, Pulp and The Charlatans meld wonderfully with noughties stompers from Franz Ferdinand, We Are Scientists and Foals. Furthermore, Rob is only too happy to slip in a new song from a grassroots artist, too – the likes of The Shed Project and Apollo Junction have all enjoyed their music getting into the UK’s living rooms.
Laura Horton is one of the Indie Disco’s regular attendees, and feels it has been a fantastic substitute for real-life revelling.
“Our screens have become a portal to reach out to people, raise morale, and recreate the communities that have been slowly dissipating due to the pandemic,” she says. “The Indie Disco has given us a release and a way for people to connect. The fact that there are hundreds of us from all over the country and some much further afield all listening to the same song at the same time, well there is something quite special in that.”
Rob has become something of a Twitter celeb – artists approach him to see if their latest track will make the Indie Disco grade, he’s appeared on numerous radio shows and even helped to raise over £10,000 for charity.
The Indie Disco itself has become something music fans all mark in their calendars. There are even t-shirts.
“There are a number of Indie Discos planned that take us up to March,” Rob reveals. When pressed on any future engagements, he remains coy. “Who knows after that?”
Speaking of the future, Laura is looking forward to that seminal moment when this ever-growing cyber community meets in public. “We cannot wait for that real meet-up,” she grins. “What a beautiful, messy occasion that will be, and we have Rob to thank for it all.”