How the Lockdown House party kept us grooving

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Visionaries:  Deejays Shimza and PH. Picture: Supplied
Visionaries: Deejays Shimza and PH. Picture: Supplied

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Two seasons of the incredibly successful online music party lifted the spirits of those who were not getting into the groove under lockdown.

The Rest Bafwethu video may not have been a message for creative entrepreneur Sibu Mabena and deejays Shimza and PH, but the message would be apt.

When it became clear that our president had pressed pause on groove, they took it upon themselves to keep the party going. They successfully put on a trending topic of a party every Friday and Saturday. And now, under level 1 lockdown restrictions, they bring the party to all in real life.

But it all started with DJ Shimza, whose real name is Ashley Raphala, having the vision for a united music industry.

“One day, I was watching what everyone was doing online during the lockdown,” he says.

What Shimza is most proud of is that, in a year that required people to stay home, their show simulated live events and became a fertile ground for deejays to flourish.

“Artists and deejays were just doing their own livestreams. Obviously, people weren’t going to be able to go out partying or watch and listen to their favourite deejays for a very long time. But I knew we had a platform, and that platform was Facebook. It allowed all of us, as deejays, to link our pages so we would have one stream. I thought that would make such a big statement.

“It said deejays can come together to entertain people. The idea worked and that one stream had a much bigger impact than just one of us doing this on our own,” he says.

And so #OnlineQuarantineParty was born. With the initiative under way, Shimza would often have conversations with Mabena, of the Duma Collective, and PH, whose real name is Phind’Gcobe Madubela, a broadcaster and sought-after event deejay.

Together, they took the Facebook event to TV and they partnered with Channel O. With sets by the likes of Kabza de Small, Focalistic, Rouge, Moozlie and more, eight weekends and two seasons of the Lockdown House Party made sure your house was the place to be.

This pleased the industry because MTV Base soon followed suit.

What Shimza is most proud of is that, in a year that required people to stay home, their show simulated live events and became a fertile ground for deejays to flourish.

“I can’t single out one favourite moment because there were many. I loved that every time we booked a deejay and they delivered, we saw their growth quickly. Lamiez [Holworthy] was already around, but as soon as people saw her on our show, it took her to the next level.

Read: Trending is a fly on the wall as DJ Lamiez chats intimately with her mom 

“DBN Gogo was also around, but the show has put on a lot more artists than we originally thought it would. The show elevated so many artists and deejays into the mainstream and that’s something we’re proud of.”

Bafwethu, something tells us none of them will be resting any time soon.


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