As resident DJ and promoter Derw the Damaja insists: “There’s much more to a good event than the line-up.” And it’s this ethos that gives the parties their individual touch – whether handing out home-made samosas and brownies on the door, or sending a live samba band into the middle of the dancefloor, the atmosphere of the event is as important to the parties as the artists playing.
“We are strong believers that the environment and atmosphere of the event is just as important as the music and entertainment on night,” Derw tells me. “If there is something to satisfy all the senses then you can really be transported to a completely different world.
“Draping out the rooms with handpicked colourful cloth that I purchased in India provides the festival vibes. The smell of incenses wafting through the rooms covers the stench of spilt beer & reflects the spiritual message in the music. The top quality sound really helps you experience the music rather than be deafened by it & the live samba drumming brings an electric atmosphere along with it.”
Reggae and dub music is at the core of the night’s musical policy, however this tends to extend to cover all strains of soundystem music: “We all have undeniable love for dub and reggae music, and want to promote its values and importance in the world we live in today. With out it there would be no ‘remix’ or ‘version’, no hip-hop or jungle, no grime or dub-step. So as well as representing the root cause we also like to showcase genres it had a big influence on.
“There is no strictly music policy, however we all agree that the music has to have a positive message.”
Derw bagan hosting events at the age of 15 in his hometown of Shropshire. Hooked on the feel of throwing a good party, he went on to bring his own ‘Strictly Steppas’ parties to Falmouth, Exeter and Bristol.
However, as he began to feel limited by the city’s smaller venues, Derw decided to team up some friends to throw the first ‘Love of Dub’ party at the Black Swan. The rest of the team includes DJ & producer, Sven Crofts a.k.a Rhumius B from the Freshly Baked crew; Kiarash Darafshi, a local cafe owner and graffiti artist; and Kieran Doswell, who works closely with Boomtown fair and runs the 'Babylon Underground' fesival.
The venue choice was an easy one. “It’s no secret that the Black Swan isn’t Bristol’s most well kept venue, however this really works to our advantage. The majority of other venues are very un-flexible when it comes to putting up décor, transforming the space & moving things around. I don’t think any other venue would let us arrive three days early & work around the clock, covering the place in staples, safety pins & cable ties. It’s a massive blank canvas.”
The Swan is undeniably the perfect spiritual home for ‘Love of Dub’. However, Derw has big plans to extend the good vibes beyond BS5: “We’re in communication with a number of UK festivals about hosting our own stages, and also chasing one of our all time favourite bands for a concert booking this summer. As well as continuing our events at the Black Swan, we’re looking forward to experimenting with new formats in an outdoor environment.”
For now, though, punters can get their fix at the next Black Swan session at the end of the month. As usual, the line up is packed, with Stand High Patrol, Roots Factory, RSD, Dub Smugglers Soundystem and more bringing the heat. Don’t miss out, for the love of dub!
Check the event here.