These photographs document the club, which was created as a safe haven for the city’s Black and POC community
The word “voodoo” has powerful connotations. To those who’ve misjudged this sacred religion in ancient African cultures, it has frightening suggestions of ghosts, hexing, sorcery and spirit possession. Wekaforé Jibril, the co-founder of celebrated Barcelona nightspot the Voodoo Club, wanted to come up with a name for his venue that would deliberately make white people feel uncomfortable, and so invoked the word’s divisive power.
The idea for the Voodoo Club was initially formed when the Nigerian multi-hyphenated artist visited Spain in 2017 and experienced a harsh revelation: “I would glance around and I would be just one of the three Black people in the establishment,” Jibril tells Dazed. “One night the bouncer wouldn’t even let me in because of my look – a flowy silk black shirt and pants with a gold necklace. I was more annoyed by the bouncer’s lack of taste than his racist power move. I thought my wealth in style and fashion sense would break through ignorance – I was wrong.”
Nightclubs should ideally be spaces where we can all celebrate our freedom of expression and individuality. However, once Jibril experienced prejudice firsthand, he realised he needed to make this happen. Along with his brother and friends, Oseka Jibril, Olayemi Alaran, and Jenny Tran, he began plotting a solution – a nightclub that would be a safe haven for Black people in Spain.
“Once I met everyone at Voodoo and the artists on its outskirts, I knew there was something special about this place for me” – Raghe Farah
The first official Voodoo Club opened its doors in June 2018, in Poble Espanyol, Barcelona. Word of this nightspot dedicated to African music and culture spread quickly, attracting the attention of creatives like Dubai and Barcelona-based photographer Raghe Farah. Before entering the club, Farah had no idea he was missing a link to his identity and brotherhood. He says, “Once I met everyone at Voodoo and the artists on its outskirts, I knew there was something special about this place for me – a sense of security and belonging.”
Farah began documenting nights out at the Voodoo Club, capturing his friends and other people of interest. His imagery signifies the vibrancy of Black joy and celebrates the community that formed around the club.
Having grown up in Canada, where venues similar to the Voodoo club were already established, the photographer recognised the crucial importance of these spaces. Farah explains, “There is strength in trust. We can make changes even with a few voices, but from what I understand and have heard from those who grew up in Spain, that is not a realistic expectation.” In response, he uses his photography to contribute to creating space for these stories: “I aim to tell these essential stories and continue to let the work reflect our lived experiences as much as possible.” Accordingly, his images give voice to those who are often tokenised and underrepresented. He tells us, “Working with Voodoo Club, whose birth was the result of a lack of safe spaces in Spain, fuels my desire to photograph and share organic stories and moments.”
Four years since it officially began, not only is the Voodoo Club now deemed one of the “hottest dance floors” on the Iberian peninsula but, crucially, it has also fostered a sense of collective consciousness and recognition of Black people in Spain. “I began to see new collectives spring out of the Voodoo Club and develop their creative language, all under the [gaze of] being a contemporary Black person in Spain,” Jibril says. This has resulted in the club’s organic evolution into a creative agency that links various DJs and musical artists, in addition to hosting castings for commercials, movies, campaigns, and more. “We aim to produce, project, and protect talents born under the Voodoo umbrella,” says Jibril reflecting on his agenda of making more room for Black individuals and evolving their work by providing opportunities for artists like Farah, who have shot official campaigns and create artwork for the Voodoo agency.
But this is only the start of the Voodoo Club’s legacy in Spain as it continues to serve as a creative hub of Black culture, music and art. Keep an eye on this space, as they plan a European tour, a concert series, and a football tournament for April 2023.
Visit the gallery above for a closer look at Raghe Farah’s ongoing project on the Voodoo Club.