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A heavy sound system; progressive, up-tempo black music; vibe-building MCs; and an atmosphere akin to a Friday-night house party — these are a few of the ingredients you can expect at a Co-Op jam. Based in West London, England, the party has been going strong for close to a decade and is in part responsible for the growth of the bubbling broken-beat scene, which combines jazz, soul, hip-hop, techno, and other genres into a dance-floor eruption.
"If the people are sweating, then we know we've done our job," explains Daz-I-Kue, member of the influential Bugz in the Attic collective and the organizer of this year's Co-Op WMC party. It's returning for the second year at Jazid, third WMC overall, and last year's edition was one of conference's most memorable parties, introducing first-timers to the British movement while leaving swollen ankles and eardrums across Miami Beach. "It's not all about having 10,000 people in a big venue; it's about having the people close together," Daz says. "Jazid has that space with the low ceilings. Last year we had Sonar Kollective in the house, Clara Hill impromptu on the mike, Sun Tzu sounds downstairs. People were feeling the night, they started getting involved, and it was one of those classic moments you rarely see in a club these days." This year look for Jon Arnold and Jeremy Ellis performing downstairs with two MPCs, keyboards, guitars, and effects, while the Co-Op crew and a host of guests smash it on the decks and PA upstairs.
Beginning originally at a central London spot called the Velvet Room by DJs Phil Asher, IG Culture, Dego (from 4-Hero), and Afronaught, Co-Op wasn't always just broken-beats. Sa-Ra, down-tempo, Moodyman, J Dilla, Theo Parrish, and soulful house were all equal staples at the club, Daz says. It was housed at the eastern-central London club Plastic People, with plans for global domination. The Co-Op crew has now started a monthly in Birmingham (England) and some U.S. locations, including San Francisco, D.C., New York, and possibly Miami.
"It's amazing there are people that haven't heard the type of music we're playing. The whole broken-beat scene, it's been like 10 years that we've been doing this music, but still the majority of people haven't clocked it yet," Daz says. "They're like, 'Ooh, what's this, something new?' With America I have to soften it slightly to draw them in, but once they're in it, they're in it!"