Weekender Spotlight: ‘Sweat It Out’, The Underground EDM Scene You Must Have Heard About

EDM/House music events have been on the rise within the past year, ultimately expanding its communities. Sweat it Out is one of the least unadulterated, underground EDM scenes in Lagos. With a loyal cult following and an unwavering determination to replicate underground rave scenes in the Western world here, the community has thrived successfully. We were privileged to speak with the organisers behind this event about how they managed to consistently put together an experience that is almost psychedelic. 

When was your first introduction to house/EDM?

Ehhh, looking back, I have heard house and electronic music for most of my life, they were songs that were electronically produced. However, my first real note of here was the old Piccolo Mondo (now Velvet) back in the day when I heard when a mate of mine pulled me over was playing that jam, Stereo Love.

Funny enough, one of them now runs a very successful night in the city. But yeah, over the years, in university, we found that going to raves and listening to this music was just better. You meet people on a journey with you and hope to find something along the way, and some for answers, too- The music has this effect. 

When did Sweat It Out start, and how?

The first ever Sweat It Out was our birthday party in 2019, and one of my best friends, Logor, and I are born on the same day. We wanted our birthday party to be a free space with electronic music in the background. We rented a short let in 1004 and threw a successful party, and we had DJ’s like Sons of Ubuntu, Icey, and Del Noi on the line-up; the party was really good, like cult-status good. 

After the gig, Ejiro (Sons of Ubuntu) asked for us to go into partnership, and this is where we are now. We did a couple of illegal parties during curfew in 2020, but yeah, we have been going strong since, and this is where we are now. 

Was there a definitive moment or experience?

There have been various moments, and everyone has their own definitive ‘Sweat It Out moment’, but I can name a few. 

There was one at the first party where I was clearly just overwhelmed by the pure joy and expression in the room, and my friend Logor pulled me down and was like down, ‘sit on the floor and look at this shit, we did it well mehn, can you see it, we did it mehn’

Then at SIO 3 also, like peak post covid, we have like 70ish people in Lagos Island coming to dance to minimal tech, like WTF is going on bro, then FENN dropped () , the room fucking exploded and like it was such a moment, at that point, I was like nah, this thing is bigger than us at this point. What a fucking moment! 

Then also at SIO 11, we had some transport issues with our logistics, so our sound guy arrived late, we went out to apologise to people that had paid, and they were like nah fuck it, don’t apologise, it is part of the vibe, which is just the most punk thing to happen because I am particular about starting and setting up early. Sweat It X, too, was a vibe, as just me, Ejiro and Dricky built all the props for the set without any real stage designer, Crazy!

Our most recent night, our boxing day edition, was just carnage, fantastic night. 

There are other house music raves, what will you say makes Sweat it Out in a class of its own?

I don’t know if we are in our own class, but it is my favourite rave. I guess it tries to capture the essence of rave in the purest form. Also, I believe our blend of minimal tech and afro-house works. There is a lot of focus on the vibe. I guess it comes from prioritising the  aesthetics too because how people feel is highly vital to the experience. 

How often do you host events, and can you describe a typical vibe?

This year, we did like 8, last year, maybe 7, so yeah, that’s what we are going for. Usually, we take a couple of months off to support other architecture in the scene, plus to take a break, as this ticket sales business, after putting down a couple of millions of Naira, gets tough on the crew. 

Would it be apt to call the current prevalence of house raves a movement?

Oh yes, it is a liberation genre if done well; the message of the music, if you stay true to its preaching, has never changed. Its origins are rooted in marginalised black men in New York and Detroit. Even in the UK, its first waves of rave were organised by marginalised youths during the Thatcher Era when the UK’s economic landscape was changing. In Nigeria, young people and young professionals are just tired , and they want a place to go that they know has limited discretion and all this standard Lagos Lau Lau. There is a market for that, but I don’t know if people want that considering the way Lagos is ongoing, and since Covid, the great reset, people want to spend more time and money on what they believe is a valuable experience. 

That’s just the way I see it, anyway. People want somewhere they know they can spend 10k-15k and have a brilliant night. 

What are the audiences at these events typically like?

Free! but very respectful people at the same time, people looking to have a good time, lost souls, people that want to dance, and some curious. The initiated are well and thoroughly there, too. 

The demographics are usually people in their 20s and 30s for the most part, but in reality, everybody is welcome. We have a vast spectrum of people coming to these parties. 

Since inception, which notable DJs have played at the raves?

We have had the full array of local DJs, from the Spektrum Boys (Icey and Del Noi) to our residents, FENN, Sons of Ubuntu. We usually have the Nataraja crew (A.T.A. and Spaceshinobi) in the building. We have my man Oluwabruce and DJ Aye in the house alongside Bedshed. Aniko has been playing for us recently, and she is killing it. 

But the biggest name we have had is Yaya, CEO of Tamango Records, but inshallah, stay tuned. We have some massive names coming. 

Tell us the three most important aspects of putting together an EDM rave?

The people, sound, light and music. What these people hear is as important as what they see. That’s the secret; that’s how you make people dream. Respect for personal space is also an essential aspect of a good night out, don’t be overwhelming to others because you are intoxicated. 

What do you think the future holds for not only Sweat it Out but also electronic music and raves in Nigeria?

People are coming together to create an industry; Nigeria has a long history of dance and dancing. We are all just trying to tell our own story, I don’t want to be cliché, but I guess it is some sort of Afrofuturist wave. 

We are looking for artists, sound engineers, DJs, and videographers. Essentially, we hope there is an entire ecosystem with people that can create value in this market. 

Yeah, the future Is clear. As long as everyone focuses on building the appropriate market architecture for the scene, people think the barriers to entry are so low that the production of the nights becomes a bit subpar. To build industry, we must make sacrifices and get more thoughtful in introducing nights to the market. 

I believe that to grow this thing, we need innovative ideas to bring people to these parties. For us, it is not just about selling hedonism. Let’s also find a way to protect this thing we love so much against the sharks that may be trying to milk it and for rent-seeking. 

But if we are being honest, this won’t be a problem for us, as the market will always see ingenuity. 

Are there any major projects coming up from your camp in the not-too-distant future?

Ahhhh, I would have liked to share with you. We are always in the works, but let’s keep this one close to our chest. But look for more international DJs, better sound, and hopefully some more collaborations as we roll out more local artists on production…

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