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Isabelle Gerretsen meets Colleen Murphy who has brought NYC club cool to East London
Colleen “Cosmo” Murphy says her life was transformed the night she stepped foot in The Loft, the first underground dance party in New York City.
“The Loft is the birthplace of the whole club movement,” she says.
Colleen became a regular at the invite-only party and was soon asked by the founder, David Mancuso, to host alongside him.
Fifteen years later, she lives in London with her husband and daughter and still hosts dance parties.
“Thirteen years ago I decided to start a version of The Loft in London. I took out a business loan, bought a bunch of hi-fi and started a party called Lucky Cloud in Shoreditch.”
She also set up the hugely popular collective listening sessions Classic Album Sundays. Every first Sunday of the month people gather to listen to an entire album.
“People love it,” Colleen says. “Their phones are turned off, no one is talking and everyone is immersed in the music.”
She has just organised a listening session of Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life and will be hosting a session of Billie Holiday’s swan song, Lady in Satin, on 2 October at Brilliant Corners on Kingsland Road.
Colleen’s initiative to share her love of music has been wildly successful.
Classic Album Sundays sessions are now held all over the world, from LA to Oslo to Tokyo. She has hosted listening experiences in Amsterdam, Toronto and New York City, with many special guests including Jarvis Cocker, Nile Rodgers and Lenny Kaye of The Patti Smith Group.
The idea came from Colleen wanting to recreate the hours
she spent listening to records with her friends as a teenager in the early Eighties.
She says: “We always listened to music together. Nowadays everyone walks around with their earplugs in and nobody shares the musical experience.”
She’s also passionate about bringing the stories behind records to life.
They are stories which fundamentally changed popular culture: film, art, fashion and design.
“When people come to Classic Album Sundays they are transformed the way I was transformed when I first went to The Loft,” Colleen says. “I am really proud of it. It’s my greatest achievement.”
What makes you most proud? My daughter.
Where do you hang out in East London?
Brilliant Corners, Genesis Cinema, Lahore Kebab House, Victoria Park, York Hall Swimming Pool, London Fields Lido.
Best coffee in these parts? Climpson & Sons in London Fields.
The Typing Room for the high-end food experience and The Hemingway for best gastro pub
How has the area changed?
I have lived here for 15 years and have seen more creative young people move into the area. This has brought in a host of cool restaurants, bars and shops.
Transport links have improved due to the regeneration of the area and the building of the Olympic Park and the schools keep getting better.
Anything you would change? East London needs more schools as they are all oversubscribed.
The area’s best-kept secret?
The cycle and walking path next to the river in Hackney Marshes.
If East London were human? She would be the most creative person in the world.
East London in a word? Dynamic.
Classic Album Sundays Album of the Month is Lady in Satin by Billie Holiday. This is your chance to experience Lady Day for the first time – or in a way you never have before.
Brilliant Corners, 470 Kingsland Road, E8 on 2 October, 4–7pm.
Tickets: £10 online or £12 on the door.
Book your tickets for both events