Review: Dancing to Disarm! Activists come together for a night of live music, DJs and dancing.

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Over 22–23 July, CAAT organ­ised a full week­end of work­shops, speak­ers, train­ing and per­form­ance to build res­ist­ance to the arms trade. On the Sat­urday even­ing, over 260 people atten­ded Dance To Dis­arm: a night of live music, DJs and spoken word to raise funds for CAAT and build solid­ar­ity through music. Below, long-time CAAT sup­port­er Alastair Bin­nie-Lub­bock gives his reflec­tions on the even­ing. 

After the first full-on day of enga­ging work­shops at the It Starts Here week­end, where cam­paign­ers got togeth­er to plot the shut­ting-down of London’s DSEI Arms Fair, the Dance to Dis­arm gig at Shoreditch’s Rich Mix was a great way to let off steam while keep­ing the anti-arms energy going.

Stop the Arms Fair cam­paign­ers come from all walks of life so the night was an excel­lent and all too rare oppor­tun­ity to social­ise as a group, and to wel­come oth­ers who just came to be enter­tained. Oh and what enter­tain­ment!

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First off was the spoken word of Miz­an the Poet who explained how he’d got involved in Cam­paign Again­st Arms Trade’s Lon­don group after read­ing the book ‘Shad­ow World’ by Andrew Fein­stein, which has now been turned into a film. His power­ful poetry took aim at the Iraq War (‘Shock and Awe‘), the government’s ‘anti-ter­ror’ Pre­vent pro­gram­me (‘1984′) and the pro­lif­er­a­tion of child sol­diers (‘Stolen’).

Then Cam­den-based rap­per Awa­te came to the stage, drop­ping power­ful social com­ment­ary with tracks like ‘Out here‘ and ‘Uncon­trol­lable Dope­ness‘. Brim­ming with sharp lyr­ics and on-point sen­ti­ments, he inter­spersed his tracks with humor­ous asides and insights into his life as a refugee and a young black man liv­ing in Lon­don. The crowd went wild as he promp­ted: “If you hate arms deal­ers and prop­er­ty developers make some noise!”

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Along with being some of the most polit­ic­ally-con­scious hip-hop you’re likely to hear on a night out, both Awa­te and Logic (who was next up) got the people boun­cing with their hands in the air. Logic is a stal­wart of pos­it­ive con­scious hip-hop col­lect­ive People’s Army and wowed the audi­ence with tracks like ‘Spec­tat­or‘ about the Israeli occu­pa­tion of Palestine and ‘Ques­tion Everything‘ which could be the song for our ‘Fake News’ times.

The set also fea­tured one or two intim­ate acapel­la verses and a guest spot from People’s Army sta­blem­ate Big Cakes. Back­ing them up was DJ Harry Met­calfe from Ghostwriterz bring­ing some hard-hit­ting beats. For his finale, Logic got every­one dan­cing and singing along to the anthem­ic chor­us of his ver­sion of Madcon’s clas­sic ‘Beg­gin’.

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Keep­ing the people boun­cing and think­ing, Ninja Tune Records founders Jon & Matt (also known as Cold­cut) took to the stage with some heavy bass­lines and psy­che­delic visu­als, includ­ing dis­solv­ing tanks and machine guns, and some great pho­tos from past Stop the Arms Fair dir­ect actions. Their set spanned everything from dis­co and jazz to break­beat and jungle. One track that stood out was a remix of Roots Manuva’s ‘Wit­ness’ paired with the brass sec­tion of the Tom Jones clas­sic ‘It’s Not Unusu­al’, show­cas­ing Coldcut’s incred­ible abil­ity to seam­lessly blend music of dif­fer­ent styles, gen­res and time peri­ods.

DJs Gin and Hero from the fem­in­ist DJ col­lect­ive Resis’Dance topped off the night with some clas­sic floor-filling house, dance­hall and gar­age bangers. Hav­ing pre­vi­ously sup­por­ted oth­er amaz­ing act­iv­ist groups like Black Lives Mat­ter UK, Sis­ters Uncut, Move­ment for Justice and many more, the Resis’Dance DJs know how to bring a uniquely fun and cel­eb­rat­ory vibe to the dance­floor, while cre­at­ing a safe and inclus­ive space for all.

Thanks to good plan­ning from the organ­isers, the next day’s work­shops didn’t start until 1pm as many stayed until the small hours shak­ing it in the ser­vice of the anti-arms trade move­ment. A move­ment that, as it turns out, takes many shapes… includ­ing throw­ing shapes!

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It was, as Awa­te said, “a night to come togeth­er to build com­munity, show solid­ar­ity and be proud of speak­ing out again­st the arms trade”.

CAAT would like to thank every­one who came to the event and par­tic­u­larly all the artists for put­ting on such an amaz­ing show. If you can, please sup­port the artists by going to their gigs and buy­ing their music, which can be found using the links through­out this art­icle.

Are you hungry for more Dan­cing To Dis­arm? How about out­side an arms fair?! Come party and protest with CAAT on Sat­urday 9th Septem­ber as part of the week of action again­st the DSEI arms fair in East Lon­don. Find out more about the plans for the week of action and how you can get involved at stopthearmsfair.org.uk/

Dance To Dis­arm raised over £2,200 for CAAT! If you fancy put­ting on an event your­self to raise funds to chal­lenge the arms trade, please email: fundraising[at]caat.org.uk

[Source: CAAT Blog]

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I Am Hip-Hop magazine welcomes contributions from guest authors. If you would like to review an event, please get in touch! iamhiphopmagazine[at]gmail.com