The Return of Shifty- An Interview with Sarah Noonan

House | Tuesday 13th June 2023 | Joe

Shifty, London's premier party brand, has been igniting the city's nightlife since 2009. They have taken over iconic venues such as 333 Mother Bar, Soshos, Lightbox, Pacha, Victorian Vaults, McQueens, and Cargo, creating unforgettable experiences for music enthusiasts.

Shifty pride itself on its unwavering commitment to quality Tech House music. Their handpicked resident DJs, alongside a carefully curated lineup of special guests, fearlessly explore and push the boundaries of the genre. With every event, they strive to deliver an electrifying atmosphere and an ever-evolving sound that keeps the dance floor moving.

Over the years, Shifty has been privileged to showcase some of the industry's top players. They have hosted legendary headliners like Seb Zito (FUSE), Alex Arnout (HOT NATURED), and Tred Benedict (SPILT MILK), who have graced their stages and left their indelible mark on Shifty's vibrant party culture.

We caught up with the promoter Sarah, who is bringing the party back after a 10-year hiatus.

What inspired you to become an event promoter and specialize in organizing parties centered around House music?
It was a journey that spanned many years across my life, coming from a huge Irish family socialising music and parties were part of life. From growing up in Shoreditch and living int the area my whole life, I would have to attribute some of the inspiration to the things I encountered growing up in this area of London. Seeing movements of people drawn to certain parties. I built on this through my own experiences working as a door girl for many promoters from the likes of circo loco, the proud group and pasha. 
Could you provide a brief overview of Shifty, the party you promote? What sets it apart from other House music events?
I am 100% a promoter and I do not have any altera motives as a DJ. I have an in-depth understanding of the dynamics that form the overall experience. This has been a personal project of mine which I have built from scratch solely off of my own hard work and experiences. I see this as a way of giving back to the raving community. 
How do you curate the lineup of DJs and artists for Shifty? What factors do you consider when selecting performers?
I want to give a stepping stone to DJs who have given their lives to music and may have not yet received the recognition they deserve. I do not believe in playing it safe and booking expensive well established headliners. 
Can you describe the atmosphere and overall experience attendees can expect at Shifty? What elements contribute to creating a unique party vibe?
It’s a great mixture of regular faces and new people thrown into the mix. The atmosphere is unprotenaios, everyone can feel free to be themselves and be comfortable with who they are. This gives a real feeling of a mixed and dynamic crowd, a safe and fun space for people to build last friendships and have a good time. 
How do you engage with the House music community to promote Shifty and attract a dedicated audience? Are there any specific strategies you employ?
I have thought about this a lot, especially starting from scratch again. You are only as good as your last party, the engagement is giving people a good time at your event, ensuring they get value for money, hear some music they know and most importantly education of music they don’t know. You can engage with people over socials paid ads, but there is still nothing more powerful than face to face interactions and engagement. I think the promotion and attraction will be homegrown rather than fabricated algorithms. 
What challenges do you face as an event promoter in the House music industry? How do you overcome these challenges to ensure the success of your events?
Staying relevant and putting in the work to ensure that you are part of an ever and evolving and changing scene. I Don’t leave anything to chance. You have to be organised. Operationally you have to have a vision of how the event will unfold and what work needs to be put in to ensure that it goes to plan. My biggest challenges have always been outside factors somewhat out of my control, from the venue management, the sound the security. These are the elements I try and put my focus on in preparation and on the day of the event.  
In your opinion, what are the key ingredients for organizing a memorable House music event? How do you incorporate these elements into Shifty?
A well run event, no queues for drinks and toilets. 
Safety, everyone feeling safe, security well trained in WAVE and ask for Angela. Approachable.
Good quality sound and DJs who can read the room. Finally and the most importantly is the crowd of people, happy smiling and having a good time together. Whatever you do you have to be authentic and be doing it for the right reasons, doing it for the love of music and events. If there are any altera motives such as vanity or financial gain people will see straight through it. 
Could you share any success stories or standout moments from previous editions of Shifty? What made those experiences particularly memorable?
I have gone head to head with our promoters working in conjunction with them and their well headliners. I have taken on room 2 situations which have proven to be more successful and innovative on the night. Showing people who were only exposed to one type of genre and sound expanding their musical knowledge and taste. 
What role does technology play in the promotion and execution of Shifty? Are there any innovative techniques or tools you utilise to enhance the event experience?
My previous successes were at a time before social media, Facebook had only just started. I relied solely on word of mouth, text messages and flyers. With the advancement of technology I am really excited to explore how powerful these tools will be to take SHIFTY to the next level. I am particularly excited by videography, as it encapsulates the party in the best way. A lot of promoters are using all the tools available to them to enhance the experience of the event. I would say my events formula of success is to first get the basics right and you will not need any gimmicks such as 360 cameras or photo booths etc.  
How do you envision the future of House music events and the role that Shifty will play in shaping that future,  are there any new trends or directions you plan to explore with upcoming editions of the party?
House music events go through cycles where things come back round full circle. From music genres to venue locations and styles of parties. A new direction for my current and future events will be the switch from evening events and after parties to day time parties. I think this decision is based on my own personal preferences and those of my peers, who 10 years on need to be able to party but also be able to function and deal with the responsibilities of life. There is a very thin line between having a good time and too much of a good time.