Marcos Navarro and Robbie Bloomer have been pushing inclusiveness and diverse, underground music for six years now under their Manchester based High Hoops night and guise. Very much keeping it in the family, both have family members that are involved in parties in some way; Robbie’s dad put on parties in the renowned Art College in Belfast, and Marcos’ still runs a trance night in Manchester, so naturally the pair followed down the path of dance euphoria and 7am hugs.
“I had wanted to start a night a few years before I met Marcos, but never did it”, says Robbie. “When we met, within a few weeks we had a venue, Marshall Jefferson booked… We had initially wanted to book DJ Sprinkles, who had never played in Manchester before. We couldn’t align the dates, but we got her for the second party!”
“Yeah, one of our friends lived opposite The Roadhouse, so it all worked out”, says Marcos. “Looking back at it now, it was almost too easy. Obviously it challenged us as the years progressed, but we never took it that seriously, and I think that part of why it’s grown so much.”
“We just wanted to book artists that our mates wanted to see, and to have a good time.“
Since 2015, High Hoops have thrown a party in almost every venue in Manchester, their queer and inclusive identity and banging soundtrack inspired by local nights like Homoelectric and Bohemian Grove.
“It took us a few years to find that one place, and that’s The White Hotel,” says Robbie. “Our parties there are a little DIY and don’t take themselves too seriously which is exactly what we set out to achieve. A lot of the previous venues we worked with have now closed down.”
Being so familiar with the Manchester scene and community put the duo in a great position to kick start the Save Our Scene campaign: a project that has provided some vital income and opportunities to those from poorer backgrounds.
Beginning as a campaign to raise support for independent venues, it soon became clear that the concept would be better served towards individuals (“How do you choose which venues get the support? It’s such a broad soundscape when you think about the scene as a whole”), so funds were raised through a compilation raised on Bandcamp and a United We Stream broadcast.
“Altogether we raised £18,000,” says Marcos. Everyone that applied for the grant got between £350 and £550, apart from the person living in Peru who tried to apply.”
“That led into Phase II. We were thinking about how the scene might look when lockdown officially ends. We wanted to put money into an idea that encourages diversity and try and do something to bring it into the scene further, and provide some kind of longevity. It wasn’t necessarily aimed at venues or clubs, it was open to interpretation.”
Robbie replies, “the goal was to raise £5,000, which we did, and we got around twenty applications. We set up a diverse judging panel and voted. There was two in particular that stood out: a pop up radio station that’s being ran out a pub and another that was focused on a mentorship programme for young people from BAME backgrounds.”
“We ended up bringing the two teams together and they both loved the idea of collaborating, so now we’ve helped them with their plans and they can fund their projects.”
The sheer amount of effort that has gone into what Robbie and Marcos have done here cannot be undervalued. In the uncomfortable wake of realising that our government do not really see the value in our culture, and a lack of financial support for those in the industry, they have taken it upon themselves to do what a government should be doing in the first place.
“I think people now understand the connection between themselves and locality more than ever“
As attention turns to those special High Hoops moments. Having built a reputation for one of the most energetic, sweaty and loose parties in the UK, it’s a must-attend when clubs finally reopen their doors.
But, alas, we are forced to look back once more to Instagram uploads and fuzzy memories from many nights before.
“One that comes to mind is when we had a DJ from Detroit called Fit Siegel over, he’s one the biggest vinyl distributors in the city,” says Robbie. “He played for us in 2016, just after Prince had died. He did a full hour of classics at the end at 7am.”
“He wanted a tour of Salford before his flight, so we ended up on this mad taxi journey around the Salford Lads Club. The Rush Hour party was great, too.”
Marcos rounds things up with an impassioned underground perspective, “DJ Octopus was wicked too. One of the most amazing things is when you have artists that come, and you know they’re amazing, but they’re not necessarily the high profile ones that people would come to see. It’s so sick to see them smash it out of the park.”