Find Your People at these 7 Inclusive Spaces in Leeds
Perhaps you’ve recently moved to Leeds, or are about to join the hordes of students descending in September… or maybe you’ve actually lived here for ages but simply haven’t found the folk that really float your boat. Either way, it can be intimidating to feel like an outsider in a big city. Whatever your kinks and quirks, Leeds is teeming with open-minded, friendly people… you just need to know where to look. Check out this list of Leeds venues and collectives and you’ll soon find yourself spoilt for choice of things to do and people to see.
1. Live Art Bistro
Host to the likes of Love Muscle, Live Art Bistro is dedicated to a celebratory LGBT+ club culture which incorporates great music, film, and copious amounts of glitter. This lively art space does more than just clubbing, delivering a dizzying range of events from workshops and performance art, to Drag Queen Bingo and queer film nights. The Bistro is all about platforming new and diverse talent, while its clear ‘safe space’ policy asks punters to respect each other’s boundaries and identifications and encourages anyone experiencing threatening behaviour to reach out to staff. Look out for the upcoming mini festival ‘All These Things’ on the 15th August.
1-2 Regent Street, Leeds, LS2 7QA
2. Inkwell Arts
In association with Leeds Mind, Inkwell Arts work closely with the community on annual fundraising projects, and hope to help adults with mental health issues towards recovery through arts and creativity. Every Saturday you can head over to the café for a delicious vegetarian (or vegan) lunch followed by homemade cake. If jazz is your thing, stick around for their live music events like Jazz Divas, and the Sunday Jazz Café, plus you’ll be spoilt for choice with their range of classes which cover arts and crafts, dance, and mindfulness - to name but a few. Until the 1st December you can join them on every first Saturday of the month to help fight period poverty in the Freedom4Girls Workshop.
31 Potternewton Lane, Chapel Allerton, Leeds, LS7 3LW
This DJ-collective is trying to change perceptions in the male-dominated music scene by championing female talent, as well as that of trans and non-binary people. The free-to-access DJ workshops offer a safe space for people who aren’t cis men to work on their skills or simply try something new, ensuring that everyone has access to the same platform. Its non-profit parties welcome everyone, and all proceeds go to to supporting the workshops. Frequenting Live Art Bistro, Wharf Chambers and Sheaf St., Equaliser will take you to some hotspots in Leeds for excellent music and better company. Get yourself on the waiting list for one of their DJ workshops, and keep an eye out for upcoming parties.
4. The HUB
Also known as the Holbeck Underground Ballroom, The HUB nestles under five railway arches in Holbeck. This affordable and versatile theatre space is open to anyone in need of a stage (or simply somewhere to rehearse), and is home to a progressive theatre company called Slung Low. In their policy, Slung Low declare, “we aim for all the work we present to be radical. We readily accept that word means many different things and we embrace all the meanings.” All audience members attend on a ‘pay what you decide’ agreement with 100% of the proceeds going to visiting performers. Tickets to their autumn shows are on sale now.
67-71 Bath Road, Holbeck Leeds LS11 9UA
5. Girl Gang Leeds
Yes, we’ve gushed about Girl Gang Leeds before here on Harpy, but this inclusive collective is your one-stop shop for meeting like-minded people and attending interesting events. Just over a year old, they’ve already fulfilled point one of their manifesto - to create a community in the city and positively inspire women. The popular ‘Speed Mate-ing’ events and monthly meet-ups are designed to give women and non-binary people the opportunity to make connections and foster friendships, and their regular gigs and market fairs platform a diverse range of artists, musicians and business-people from all over the North. New and returning students should check out their upcoming Alternative Freshers Fair.
6. Wharf Chambers
From Fictions of Every Kind to numerous live music events, if you want to attend any of the fantastic evenings hosted by Wharf Chambers, you’ll need to become a member. This is how the venue ensures that the space is accessible and safe, and also means that the venue itself is managed cooperatively. Members are bound to a ‘Safer Space’ agreement designed to protect each other from harmful behaviours, and in return have their own say in how the venue is managed. It’s open, not-for-profit attitude attracts interesting punters and event planners alike, so you’ll be sure to find something exciting happening here in the near future!
23-25 Wharf Street, Leeds, LS2 7EQ
7. Hyde Park Picture House
The Friends of HPPH don’t exactly have an inclusivity manifesto, but they sure are good at platforming lesser known artists and filmmakers, such as Alia Syed who was recently present at her own film screening to discuss the themes of gender and diaspora in her work. What’s more, on Monday nights you can go for a fiver, and they regularly offer ‘Bring Your Own Baby’, captioned, or dog-friendly screenings, opening doors to a slightly wider audience than your average cinema. So whether you refuse to leave the house without your best dog pal (understandable) or you’re really after a film experience with a bit more diversity than the typical Hollywood blockbuster, head over to the August Film Guide to find out what’s on.
73 Brudenell Road, Leeds LS6 1JD
Title illustration by Egle Zvirblyte