London’s Secret Parties; An Ode To Friendships Formed At 3am

London’s dancefloors have long been the birthplace for a unique brand of family. From the New Romantics who bonded over Bowie at Soho’s Blitz club in 1979, to the crowds that gathered around Elephant and Castle during the 90s emergence of UKG, and more recently those who flooded Richard Mortimer’s Boombox in east London between 2004 and 2007 – it’s swerving across sticky floors under pulsating lights, sharing make-up in front of grubby bathroom mirrors, and finding yourself, the morning after the night before, tagged together in strangers’ pictures, that really moulds friendships into families. 
And in 2019 the party’s only thriving harder. Bigger, better and more connected than ever before, today’s movers and shakers are concerned not only with having a good time but forming communities and encouraging collaboration too. 
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“Our whole platform is a space to help women connect organically,” explains Izzy, one half of Bossy LDN, the creative duo marrying business and pleasure with their mix of late night parties and breakfast hour get-togethers. “A female focused platform that pushes equality, from the beginning we’ve been doing all female brunches to help women actually meet in person and connect face to face, because we feel that’s really important – as well as throwing our monthly parties, which are for up and coming creatives to connect and meet, because we believe you grow with your contacts. We all get to the top together.”

Izzy and her Bossy partner Dhamirah first met on a shoot in 2015 “and we haven’t looked back,” exclaims Dhamirah, “we’ve literally spoken every day since.” With a monthly residency on Dalston radio station NTS streamlining their expertly curated calendar of workshops, panel talks, and DJ sets, the time the pair spend on dancefloors, in the booth and beyond is focused on prioritising the capital’s talent: ‘Aligning the stars in Music, Fashion & Culture’ as their Instagram bio rightly puts it.
“London’s such a unique place,” says Izzy, alluding to the city’s expansive pool of creatives and rich multiculturalism. “It allows you to be free, to be whoever you want, and express your creativity through everything, including fashion, music, where you go... It’s inspiring, there’s so many different cultures, so you’re always learning whilst being in London. We’re extremely lucky.”
“There’s a huge sense of cross culture community that I think is very unique to London,” agrees Emerald Lewis, a DJ, model and presenter on Rinse FM, “it can sometimes feel like the centre of the world for me, especially when I’ve been away.” Attuned to the city’s pulse, she’s wary of the damage caused to London’s nightlife as a result of a series of closures – “it’s suffered astronomically in the last few years. Some of the most sacred clubs have closed down” – but enthusiastic about where it’s led today’s scene, primarily to smaller and more intimate spaces. “Secret parties are popping up, which are my favourite kind of party.” 
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The rise of said scenarios – with a little help from the ease social media provides – has no doubt led to closer bonds being formed on dancefloors, and policies of inclusivity like Bossy LDN’s being employed further across the board at host level. Something Lewis is wholeheartedly on board with, as she tells Refinery29 “there’s nothing like playing to an open minded dancefloor. I want to always play to a crowd who want to hear something they've never heard before regardless of their identity. And more importantly, want to dance.”
Captured here by photographer Elliott Morgan in full-on Gucci splendor – “it’s well and truly party season,” reflects Dhamirah – the three women represent an increasingly prominent voice in London’s contemporary nightlife scene. One that flexes as hard IRL as it does online, offering something both to be admired and to be understood as properly authentic. So what does family, in the context of a good time, mean to them in 2019?
For the Bossy duo meanwhile, the concept of family is pretty open. “I feel like everyone who comes to our events is our family,” says Izzy. “Anyone who supports us,” concurs Dhamirah, “anyone who reaches out to us is welcome, it’s a big Bossy family, male and female.” They’re an inclusive team adds Izzy, a team that considers the fans who follow or message them on social media as much a part of the family as those who show up on the night. This emphasis on connection extends similarly to those inspiring them right now – including Wonderland Editor-in-Chief Toni-Blaze and Essie Buckman of fashion label Fortie – Izzy's best friends, and the ones killing it in their respective fields. 
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“Family are the people who show up for you, regardless of bloodline,” reckons Emerald. “To work your arse off for something and see your mates there cheering you on is a feeling that should be cherished! And there's nothing like going out with a group of mates you feel wholly comfortable around on a night out. You can completely be yourself, as much as you are when you're with your blood family.”
When it comes to style, Izzy and Dhamirah are both vocal about arm candy that fits little more than a bank card. “Extra, extra, extra and a tiny bag, that sums me up,” Izzy says. In practice, as per the looks that make the ‘gram, this means baby pink leather coats, ruched lime mini dresses and full look blue tie dye. Dhamirah meanwhile, teams her miniature handbags with a late 90s meets early 00s vibe: “normally baggy on the bottom, tight on the top,” she clarifies, “girly but boyish at the same time.” Teamed with a Gucci Grip timepiece – pretty much the ultimate in contemporary wristwear for people with schedules as populated as Bossy LDN – both looks are pure fire. Elsewhere for Emerald, big hair and good trainers are the ultimate party look she says, as a scroll of her page reveals on point suiting and sports inspired jackets to fit the bill the rest of the time. 
While the upcoming festive season is traditionally reserved for more nuclear families to gather, toast, and inevitably argue, those connected by a favourite song, space or stellar dance move are well served by the season’s best bits (read: celebrating). For Emerald, this means playing Ministry of Sound on New Years Eve and a series of gigs across the country and overseas in the lead up. For Bossy LDN however, something more hush hush. “We never really say, but for next year we’ve got something really really big that we’ve got everything crossed for,” is all they’ll say. Until the time comes…
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Ask any of the three for the ultimate party anthem, and a revolving door of tunes means the answer is revised weekly (Megan Thee Stallion and Pop Smoke both get a look in mind). Their go to pals for a good time are more focused, sort of. “Us!” enthuse the Bossy LDN ladies; Emerald tells of a broader point of call. “Everyone,” she considers, “then I get impatient and everyone replies at the same time in all different parts of London. But usually everyone ends up together, and that’s the best.” With such an extended family on tap, it’s perhaps lucky she considers the “wee hours” between 3 and 4am the prime time of any party. 
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