Sarah Jane Riegler‘s Afro Haus has officially been running for a year, and her anniversary fête will no doubt be Toronto’s party of the long weekend. This Sunday, February 17, at Socialite, Sarah’s got two floors happening – one with afrobeats, dancehall, hip-hop, soca, grime, and coupé décalé; and one with afrohouse, kuduro, afrotech, gqom, and sgubhu. Her parties have gathered a lot of traction over the past year, and this mini-festival proves that things are really starting to boil and bubble.
Afro Haus parties are dance-intensive, so make sure you do some warm-up stretching, and come prepared in clothes that allow you to move in all the ways that you know how to, and all the new ways that you’re about to acquire. I was first mesmerized by Francois Regis, an active member of the community, at an event last winter, but it wasn’t until the springtime that he flung me across the dance floor and we grooved for the entire evening. For Francois, dancing is “one’s moment, one’s freedom”, and the way he moves continuously captivates new and seasoned Afro haus participants. Afro Haus came at a time when Francois was new to Toronto and didn’t have a dance community that he could really connect with. While recounting his experiences at Afro Haus to me, with a nostalgic echo in his voice, he said that it reminds him of home. For Francois and the rest of the community, it’s more than just a dance event, it’s more than just a party – it’s an inviting space filled with human interaction through music and movement. “You can leave your societal norms at the door” he says, “it doesn’t matter if you know the moves”, and he’s right – there’s no way your body can’t figure it out.
Sarah and I met about five years ago – we connected over our love for West African traditional music and the fact that we had both done an exchange at the University of Ghana during our undergraduate years. Although we were playing music together in a totally different context, we would always reminisce about our time spent in Ghana – now almost a decade ago – and the nights that we spent out in the clubs dancing to afrobeats. The Afro Haus idea had been brewing in her mind for a few years while searching for similar events in Toronto, and she decided to finally take the leap and bring it to life last February.
The event she’s got planned for you consists of twelve DJs (and a live drummer!) – six on each floor – each giving you a one hour set, taking you from 8pm to 3am. Here is a list of all twelve in no particular order, with links to the vibe they bring.
Catch this eclectic mix of soundscapes this Sunday:
Floor I: afrobeats, dancehall, hip-hop, soca, grime, and coupé décalé
1. Curator Fly (Excuse My French 416)
2. OWABOWA (Lost is Found)
3. DJ Shai (XiXgon Int’l)
4. Lovebonez the DJ
6. Kush Nubia
Floor II: afrohouse, kuduro, afrotech, gqom, and sgubhu
1. Sarah Jane Riegler (Afro Haus)
2. TK Smoothe (Moonraiser Ent.)
3. Docteur Mephisto (Ubuntu; Brain Freeze Project)
5. Dave Rankin (Hear 2 House You)
6. DJ Shaq-Tofficial