Boko! Boko! The UK club superheroes celebrating global grooves and local roots | Dance music

There’s something of the superhero team about dance collective Boko! Boko! There’s their big, complementary personalities and musical abilities and clear camaraderie, not to mention their colourful Lycra outfits. As they wait backstage in Oslo’s Blå club prior to their set at the Oslo World festival, the trio of Juba (AKA Chinwe Pam Nnajiuba, razor sharp with a buzzcut and specs, 32), Tash LC (Tashan Campbell, small and impishly witty, 27) and Mina (Hannah Mac, 5ft 11in of husky-voiced effusiveness, 31) are full of good cheer. Bantering about backstage catering and Norway’s blondness, taking selfies and wondering how they’re going to follow the Kenyan boyband currently on stage, they feel like old friends catching up.

Which they kind of are. Boko! Boko! may be one of the best and most important DJ teams around right now thanks to the high-energy, globally sourced rave sets they’ve been honing over seven years. This year has seen all three release spectacular records, and together they headlined Berlin’s ultimate techno bunker, Tresor, in September. Yet they rarely get to see each other. Juba lives in Berlin and travels constantly on projects such as her documentary, compilation and podcast series about women DJs/musicians, Assurance. The other two are based in south London but have hectic solo DJ careers and run record labels – Mina’s Earth Kicks and Tash’s Club Yeke – and Mina also records and tours with Ghanaian MC Bryte.

Old friends … Juba, Tash and Mina. Photograph: Cicely Grace

If Boko! Boko! have a guiding ethos, it’s about building connections between individuals and cultures. (“Boko” roughly means “cool” in Ghanaian slang.) Tash grew up in a Caribbean household in Croydon, her parents keen clubbers while her own teenage musical exploits revolved around “indie rock and drum’n’bass squat raves”.

“I always envied them having had those 90s days,” she says wistfully, “where it felt like there was a real scene and community.” (You hear the word “community” a lot around the trio.)

We’ve seen a lot of collectives grow too fast then not know where to go nextTash

Born in Oxford and raised in London, Mina learned to party from her parents, too – her dad introduced her to his queer clubbing scene friends and took her to Glastonbury and Burning Man. She and Tash met and started DJing in 2015 through London’s Radar Radio, an era in which a wave of eclectic stations – NTS, Worldwide, Balaami, Reprezent – made their studios into social hubs. Radar would collapse amid harassment scandals, but “it was brilliant in the early days”, says Mina. “It gave a lot of people opportunities and it was a real community.”

Juba didn’t grow up clubbing. “My parents are Nigerian and religious,” she says. “Dancing was only for family parties; clubs were for bad boys and girls.” She discovered club culture when she travelled in South America on her gap year, and met Mina and Tash in 2016. They mentored her as a fledgling DJ and she joined Boko! Boko! at the end of that year. They quickly developed an enviable reputation on the London circuit and beyond.

Their combined experiences made for a heady brew: joining the dots through Brazilian baile funk, Angolan-Portuguese kuduro, South African gqom and amapiano, British grime and funky, and further sounds still from Kinshasa to Kuala Lumpur. Their own night quickly became an inclusive party with a reputation for good vibes galore – with a regular crowd that’s hyper diverse but united by willingness to dance: a crowd that, as Juba puts it, “curates itself in terms of behaving in certain ways and knowing what to expect”.

“We get a good number of women and queer people,” continues Mina. “Not because we’re explicitly a queer party, but just because of who we are and what we represent.”

Since the trio formed, global club styles have caught on more widely, but they avoided capitalising on this to grow their brand. “I definitely thought about it,” says Juba. “I’m the one who’s always making plans – but realised that us each succeeding doing our own things, and keeping the party quite small, is way better.”

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“We’ve seen a lot of collectives grow too fast then not know where to go next and we don’t want to lose what we’ve got,” says Tash. “It’s more about sustainability.” (“Sustainability” is another word you hear a lot around them.)

As it is, they can sell out 220 tickets for their adopted home of Peckham Audio with barely any promotion. “I love that,” says Mina. “People aren’t even asking who the guests might be. I love the idea that even though we can now play bigger places we might eventually have our 10th anniversary in the same club we’ve been in for ages.”

Taking the decks in Oslo, they show exactly how they tear up major venues such as Tresor, slamming out a set that is closer to techno’s original futurist ethos than 99% of techno is in 2022. Multiple languages, familiar and unfamiliar motifs, darkness and light, shifting rhythms and huge bass all make absolute sense on the strobe-lit dancefloor. Mina, Juba and Tash goof off and twerk behind the decks – and the Norwegians react in kind – but this is deadly serious too. These superheroes are saving the world, one club at a time.

Boko! Boko! play Peckham Audio on 11 November

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