Feature: Get On Up

get on up webJamie showed up in his trackies, loaded with a heavy backup. He was late, but there was no room to complain about it. It was nice enough of him to give me an interview on a day’s notice. He is not an idle man. Like most of the organizers of Get On Up, he divides his time between infamously demanding “third-year” studies, work and well, organizing one of the fastest and biggest successes York nightlife has produced.

Get On up started in 2013 and by the end of the academic year, it had moved to London. It is now one of the most popular nights in York, and can boast several XOYO appearances. Running events across both cities on a monthly basis, Joel, Jamie, Max and Patrick have “had more success than they thought,” Jamie admits.

He’d want me to preface this be saying that he technically didn’t start it, that was the first thing he told me once he sat down. But he also said that Get On up is about that friendly atmosphere, the easy-going attitude that extends behind the scenes. “Selling tickets at the stalls used to be a meet&greet. We knew everyone who was going, and they just came down for a chat. By their graduation, some of the regulars were religious about their attendance.

“That was the point really, create an environment that stands in between the underground club nights and the standard YUSU events. We wanted people to just come down and have fun. That’s what disco, funk and soul are about anyway. Our music is the best way of understanding how we are different. It’s a contrast to serious house or techno, the aim is to get people singing along.”

When they moved away from the old Fibbers, where Nevermind bar now sits, to Tokyo (incidentally Fibbers’s new venue; Tokyo fled York) they were making a bold move. “We didn’t know if we’d even come close to filling it up. We had doubled our capacity because we thought people were genuinely enjoying it, but we had no idea.” And yet double their crowd they did, keeping Tokyo and then Fibbers busy until this year.

Their London branch moves around, most notably at The Nest in Hackney and Brixton Jamm. They have curated room 2 of XOYO twice now, and the club embraced their whole franchise. I asked how they maintain the same spirit when they’ve expanded so much. He didn’t really know what to say, I guess to him it is just something he does with his friends. When I asked why they don’t put up acts though, I think he answered both questions.

“We don’t want to book people because it makes everything more expensive. We’ve kept our prices stable throughout the years, and it’s because we want it to be as affordable as possible.” From what I gathered, these guys were mostly surprised to make any money, not anticipating it. They still see it as something they provide to a sort of community, be it strangers or friends. A night that is relaxed, affordable, enjoyable and different is something every student town needs, and they have tackled the task many times.

I think the most accurate picture of them comes from the story that came at the end of the interview, on our walk out. “The first time XOYO asked us to play at the second room, they said we could bring our friends by putting our friends on the guestlist. Now, that was a £25 night and we were actually Djing at XOYO, so obviously all our friends were keen. We ended up putting about 800 people on the list. XOYO wasn’t very happy.”

-Eliza Gritsi