Tuesday evenings in January aren't known for their nightlife. The nights are dark, the frost harsh – and even the promise of a thousand sweaty bodies keeping you warm can't tempt many from the comforting bosom of their bed and that new Analog Soul mix.
Unless, of course, you're one of the hundreds of fans who turned up to see Rebecca Long-Bailey at Oslo, Hackney last night. While Long-Bailey has been bubbling away in the underground Labour scene for a while – co-producing the groundbreaking mix "Green New Deal" in the mid-2010s – she's reached mainstream popularity recently, going B2B with Jeremy Corbyn at a number of party events. After signing to Momentum earlier this year, alongside flatmate Angela Rayner, the Stockport-born figure has been tipped as the most promising in the Labour Leadership charts.
When I arrived in east London's Hackney Central last night, queues snaked around the block from Oslo, confirming my suspicions it was going to be a large one.
The dark walls of Oslo Hackney have witnessed the likes of other buzzy acts, like DEBONAIR and Thris Tian, so seemed like a perfect spot for Long-Bailey to play her first London set. The room was packed full half an hour before the first tune was dropped, so a bigger venue may be in store for the socialist leader candidate soon – Oval Space? Or perhaps the legendary Printworks?
The night drew an impressively diverse audience, which has to be commended.
Of course, like any London night out, there were the archetypes: the crusty dads wearing thin puffa jackets; the Goldsmiths student with a box-bleached mullet; the sickly white boy in a Discwoman T-shirt. But Long-Bailey's varied yet inclusive sound pulled from across the spectrum: young, old, black, white, man, womxn, other.
Although the crowd were clearly buzzing for Long-Bailey to take the stage, we were in for a surprise. A cheer rose when Labour legend Ian Lavery came on for an unannounced support slot. Lavery dominated with a heavy and abrasive sound, filled with texture and shouting, dropping big-hitters like "Unify the Party (Pt. 1)" and "We Need a Female Leader".
By the time Long-Bailey arrived, the crowd were certainly warmed up. Bodies bustled against each other and the mood was intense. The space was filled with long-time fans of the candidate, who clapped and swayed at the sound of her classics: "No Going Back to the Days of Controls on Immigration" and "Fighting for Our Communities", alongside newer, more avant-garde tracks like "Sweeping Away the House of Lords" – released just this month.
The biggest climactic moment came towards the end of the night, when Long-Bailey dropped her long-anticipated EP, "Open Selection". The room gyrated in syncopation, thrilled at the moment they hoped would come.
Not often moved by the clubbing scene, I felt a tear come to my eye, thinking about the community that had come together for this moment, and pleased that I could share it with them.