The final Kinky Afro

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The final Kinky Afro

Andrew Weatherall

David Pollock talks to the heads behind Kinky Afro as we wave a fond farewell to the expansive techno, house and electronica night

Kinky Afro’s promoter Matthew Bennett, aka Mr Mafro, is on his mobile phone in a field on the Isle of Wight, the sounds of Bestival pounding out around him. For the moment, though, his heart is in the Sub Club. ‘It’s almost 13 years to the day since I started working there,’ he says. ‘It was Triptych promoter Paul Fagan who got me in. I went to him and said, “I like techno, can I have a job?” Since then I’ve done the bar, the cloakroom, the door, the PR, the lights, the fucking toilets …’

You get the picture – this final instalment of Bennett’s Kinky Afro night is a real end-of-an-era event, not just for the regulars but for the promoter too. For the last year, Bennett has lived in London (he’s the deputy editor of Clash magazine), and making it to double figures seemed like the perfect time to call a halt to his last remaining professional commitment in Glasgow. ‘Once the club had been running for a while,’ he says, ‘we would joke about how great it would be to get to ten years. So to actually do it is more than we could have hoped to achieve.’

Not that Kinky Afro was actually Bennett’s baby in the first place. It started as a one-off night called Slamming African Beats in aid of African charities, organised by a friend of his named Kathy, who roped him in purely to do a bit of DJing. ‘It was a Tuesday night and the Sub Club was sold out, the place was full of African drummers just kicking off,’ Bennett recalls. ‘I started off filling in the gaps, then the drummers would play over what I was DJing and it became much more of a musical collaboration as the night went on. Kinky Afro really started at that precise moment.’

Friends convinced the organisers to keep the night going, and the blend of DJs and drummers worked well for a few years (and also gave the club its eventual new name; Madchester nostalgia was never a part of the ethos). Kathy, however, had left after less than a year, and many of the drummers also went their own way. ‘When we started I was playing a lot of warm house,’ says Bennett, ‘but then I became more interested in acid and techno, and that didn’t go so well with the live drumming. So the club shifted focus to putting on live local bands, and eventually to booking cutting edge electronic and club acts.’

Indeed, the club has built a name for enticing hot artists and producers to Glasgow, with the last year or two alone featuring Santigold, Benga, Toddla T, Harmonic 313, Buraka Som Sistema and Thomas Fehlmann, among many others. Yet Kinky Afro’s final guest, says Bennett, is possibly its most special yet. ‘In short, Matthew Herbert is one of my musical heroes. His music covers the range of everything we’ve played at the club, from wonky techno to house and glitch, so I wrote him a personal letter asking him to come out of DJing retirement for this night and he agreed. He will destroy it, believe me.’

Kinky Afro’s 10th Birthday and Closing Party is at the Sub Club, Glasgow, Fri 25 Sep. There will also be a publicly open ‘friends and family wind-down’ with Andy Weatherall at Stereo, Glasgow, Fri 16 Oct.

Kinky Afro

Very special guest Matthew Herbert joins the residents for their tenth birthday and last ever night.

The B^stard Dancehall

The team behind the recently-departed Kinky Afro welcome Andrew Weatherall for a new party.

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