If there were ever a black sheep of the Berlin nightlife scene, Sameheads would likely be it. Cheery mannequins festooned in glittering camp costumes line up to greet patrons behind the Neukölln venue’s glass windows. The upper-level bar is dotted with what look like wacky installations by first year art school students, and is remarkably well lit in a constellation of neon pinks and purples. A cursory glance at the clientele dancing shoulder-to-shoulder on the basement dancefloor suggests a door policy that takes ‘inclusive’ to new levels. Even so, as Alex Golesworthy puts it, “This place feels like an oasis away from the ‘clubs’.” It’s here that UK collective Housework (members Shanti Celeste, Golesworthy, Gramrcy and Daisy Moon) have found a thoroughly unpretentious home away from home.
Long before Shanti Celeste was helming international big-room clubs, before the launch of her and Gramrcy’s joint label Peach Discs and even before the collective’s move to Berlin (a city Shanti calls “a fucking Peter Pan paradise”), Housework’s coming-of-age occured in Stokes Croft in Bristol. The crew members’ improbable origin story sounds something out of a feel-good ensemble sitcom.
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Shanti and Golesworthy met in 2010 and became friends and co-promoters after an initial hiccup during which she thought he was trying to hit on her post-set. Gramrcy’s boss at his bar pushed him to meet the pair, because the three of them had overlapping taste in house music and were fishing for the same clientele. By 2013, the three of them were living together, raving together, and throwing nights together in the basement of an Indian Restaurant named Take 5 and at a now-shuttered venue-cum-studio space called The Motorcycle Showroom.
Their brief stint at the Showroom was a formative one. It’s where the collective booked Mister Saturday Night’s Anthony Naples for his debut show in England (“I remember he was just so horrified at how fucked people get in the UK,” Shanti recalls, laughing).
“That’s where I felt the party progressed and leaped into that sort of DIY thing we were chasing,” reflects Golesworthy. It was also where they could create an offbeat club experience not unlike the Berlin digs where they’re sitting today.
“There would be a Mitsubishi pill [mural] with another pill, with like a head coming out of it,” remembers Shanti. The gold rings on her finger gleam in the lavender light of Samehead’s back room as she gestures in emphasis.
“It’s my favourite club in the world,” Gramrcy adds. “[The similarity] is what attracted me to this place. There’s loads of weird stuff everywhere.”
He sports a Peach Discs tee with a tiny man in a red wagon on the chest, while Golesworthy, the most soft-spoken of the lot, wears a nondescript white sweatshirt. Daisy is sick and couldn’t make it, but Shanti looks for ways to include her, saying, “I wish I had brought a blonde wig or something, for the pictures.”
Around the time that the glory days of The Motorcycle Showroom ended in 2013, Golesworthy moved to London and Shanti found Daisy Moon via the classified listings on Gumtree. “We put out the most wanky advert ever – something you would read if you were looking for a house and you’d be like, ‘Who are these pricks?!’ But at the end of the day, we wanted to live with someone compatible, so it worked!”
More partying ensued, along with teaching Daisy, who had a sound design degree, how to DJ. Learning to mix was inevitable, Shanti says; in the living room “[it was] very rare to not see a record spinning around on the decks.”
In summer of 2016, Shanti, Gramrcy and Golesworthy wanted a change of pace and decided to rent a van, pack up their stuff and relocate to Berlin, throwing Housework’s first daytime party and ‘last’ blow-out at an old fire station. Roughly a year later, they hosted their debut club night in Berlin where the three of them played back-to-back all night at Sameheads. “It was grand!” Shanti exclaims. “Really busy, really high, very drunk.”
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Golesworthy’s memory of the place as “really hot and smoky” still applies tonight. By 1:AM, the 50-capacity subterranean dancefloor is completely packed with foot traffic from the upstairs bar. The evening is a cocktail of sweat, vape fluid and smoke machine fug, disorienting to both sight and smell. In the midst of it all, Gramrcy explains to me that their crew’s sound is like a spider’s web, with house in the middle and techno, garage, UK funky, and electro in the outer threads.
There’s also special emphasis on ‘bassier stuff’, as a firm nod to Bristol’s soundsystem legacy. The crew members go back-to-back for hours with the same ease shown in their bantering group interview. They clearly appreciate one another’s musical contributions, handing off warmly to each other after each set. And yet, after years of promoting parties, they still depend on one another to calm the pre-gig jitters. “It’s great throwing parties with your friends because at the start of the night, even when you’ve been doing it for a while, the first hour will still be quite nerve-wracking,” Golesworthy confesses.
In August 2020 Housework will be a full decade old, and it’s this fact that has kept the four banded together. “We’re adults now!” Shanti jokes. She relocated to London in 2017 after a year in Germany. In 2018, around the same time as he decided to return back to Bristol, Golesworthy found out he was due to be a father. His son, to whom Shanti is godmother, will soon celebrate his first birthday.
While they no longer live a corridor down from one another, the team’s love for four-to-the floor music and dedication to one another is as airtight as ever. “[Housework] is never going to be a huge money-making career thing; we’re just having fun with our friends,” says Gramrcy.
If their time in Berlin was the last season of their multi-season show before each pursued their separate lives, the handful of parties they throw each year in both cities could be considered a series of nostalgic re-runs. But Housework prefers to view each gathering as a more light-hearted reunion episode. “Doing these parties is a reason for us to keep together,” Gramrcy says – especially given that he’s now the only one left in Berlin.
Daisy puts it best: “We’re like a family,” she says. “We’re a collective; we’re good friends who support each other, but also challenge each other at the right times – in a musical context and out of it too. So naturally, it means the world to me.”
Shanti Celeste’s debut album ‘Tangerine’ is out now on Peach Discs
Whitney Wei is a Berlin-based visual artist and writer, follow her on Twitter
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