Beirut Groove Collective
Beirut Groove Collective’s Ernesto and Natalie comes to SJQ for the final date of their London recidency that started at Finch Cafe E8. Expect some of the finest vintage funk, soul and more from the Middle East and beyond.
Now entering its 10th year, the Beirut Groove Collective (BGC) is the premier destination for soul-fuelled clubbing records from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. The Beirut-based DJ collective throws one of the Middle East’s most popular clubnights, promoting vinyl culture and representing an underground alternative to the nightlife of Beirut. Throwing regular parties in basement clubs, alternative beach venues and warehouse spaces at the forgotten fringes of the city, the BGC has hosted the leading international DJs, tastemakers and crate-diggers from the funk and soul scene, loyal to the format of the 7″ record.
Established in 2009 by two of Lebanon’s pioneer DJs, Ernesto Chahoud and Rami O, with the support of other Beirut-based music scene shapers such as Ramsay Short, the BGC started out as a small underground funk and soul party in the living room of cultural venue Zico House. Rami O eventually left the BGC for a more disco and house-oriented party format, and with his departure the BGC took a new form, evolving into its current vinyl-only party set-up that has connected with like-minded DJs and diggers on the international scene.
Transforming into a weekly clubnight five years ago, the BGC has become an attraction for the best diggers and DJs in the world, where they can spin their obscurest records to an open-minded crowd and exchange music knowledge and rare records with the Beirut Groove Collective’s resident crate diggers.
Ernesto Chahoud is an internationally-renowned DJ, compiler and music researcher from Beirut who aims to bring the rarest and sometimes strangest records to people’s ears. He co-founded the Beirut Groove Collective, a decade-old vinyl DJ collective that runs one of Beirut’s hippest weekly parties, the BGC All-Nighter, where obscure 1960s and 1970s clubbing records from around the world can be heard. A serious record collector, Chahoud has one of the largest vinyl collections in the Middle East. Specialising in Arabic and Ethiopian music, his taste for little-known gems and obscure dancefloor stompers for his DJ box has taken him on digging trips around the world, from Addis Ababa to Cairo. He also owns owns Darsko, a record shop in Lebanon stocking rare vinyl cuts from disco bellydance and tarab to jazz, funk, soul and afrobeat.
Chahoud hosts monthly radio shows on NTS and Totally Wired Radio, where he showcases music from his far-ranging collection. In 2017, he played a set on Beirut’s first ever Boiler Room session, alongside Habibi Funk, held in the sweaty loft of legendary Beirut record store Chico Records. He’s also done numerous eclectic DJ mixes for magazines and record labels like Jakarta and BBE.
A DJ for over 20 years, Chahoud’s influence on Beirut nightlife scene is unparalleled. He single-handedly introduced funk and soul to the city, spreading vinyl culture and offering a non-commercial alternative to the mainstream through his parties. Over the last decade, Chahoud has toured the world, filling dancefloors from Dubai to Dortmund with rare funk and soul records, raw Ethiopian grooves and his own Lebanese funk, ‘60s garage and soul discoveries. He has been featured on BBC World Service, VICE Magazine, ARTE, Monocle Radio, CNN and many more.
Natalie Shooter is a British DJ, music journalist and researcher who runs the Beirut Groove Collective’s weekly clubnights in Beirut. After founding several successful parties in Beirut such as ‘60s garage and rockabilly party ‘Peek a Boo Mary Lou’, she joined the Beirut Groove Collective in 2011 and helped shape the direction of the party. Shooter’s soul-filled sets take in everything from northern soul and R&B to Arabic funk and disco, afro-soul, Turkish psych rock, ‘60s garage and psychedelia, the result of more than 15 years spent digging for records around the world. Known for her soulful touch, she’s filled dancefloors around Lebanon for almost a decade, sharing obscure records with a focus on under-sung female artists. She’s been invited to DJ around the Middle East and Europe, holding a summer DJ residency in Dubai and playing at festivals and clubnights from Amman to Vienna and London.
An authority on Arabic music, she’s written about music scenes across the Arab World, past and present, from the wave of electro-chaabi, which rose out of Cairo’s working-class suburbs, to progressive Syrian-Jordanian ‘60s pop artist and actress Taroub. Together with Chahoud, she’s written a chapter on Lebanese disco and the civil war based on extensive research and over 20 interviews with key figures from Lebanon’s music industry. The chapter will be published in the book ‘Disco Heterotopias: Global Dance Culture in the 1970s and 1980s’ on Palgrave Macmillan in 2020. She also helped to realise and write sleeve notes for the re-issue series ‘Middle Eastern Heavens’, a collection of avant garde records made in Lebanon in the 1970s and 1980s, released by British label BBE.
As well as documenting the regional music scene, Shooter has curated and produced numerous events and festivals in the Lebanese capital. She programmed and managed Radio Beirut, one of Beirut’s most active independent live music venues and an online radio station. She also curated and produced The Shoreline Sessions, a handful of festivals that brought acts such as Omar Souleyman, Acid Arab, Maurice Louca and Restless Leg Syndrome to coastal venues across Lebanon.