Distrikt Leeds: Meet the pair who turned a derelict basement into one of the city’s most renowned nightclubs
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Almost 14 years later, they’re the proud owners of one of the city’s most renowned nightclubs - which has hosted everyone from Derek Carter to Green Velvet. Distrikt, just off Duncan Street, has become notorious for its underground events and free entry policy.
As the club prepares to celebrate its birthday this month, Rosita reflects on where the journey started.
“It was just a hole in the ground,” she told the Yorkshire Evening Post. “There was no entrance at the front, there was nothing there.
Jonathan added: “We looked at the venue and saw an opportunity. Rosita is very knowledgeable in the marketing department, I had a bit of bar experience and our other business partner at the time was quite renowned in the club industry.
“We pooled our resources together. The venue ticked all the boxes and it’s been an incredible development for us. Even now, we’re still looking at ways we can improve and diversify the venue.”
Despite its growth over the last decade and a half, Distrikt has retained its free entry policy - while hosting huge names in electronic music. It’s now a more polished affair with two state-of-the-art sound systems, an outdoor terrace that can host all-day parties and new lighting and visual effects on the way.
Rosita, who also owns House of Koko, said: “I remember our first night like it was yesterday. We were still a building site until about 4pm, the walls were still dirty and the bar was still really wet - it had only been finished at about 3.30pm. We were all stood there trying to air it down with hairdryers and fans.
“It was a great night, and so much fun, but nothing was working - the tills didn’t work and I had to run around the bars trying to get change!”
To celebrate its birthday, Distrikt will host two late-night parties on Friday October 13 and Saturday October 14, with a line-up including Doudou MD, Ferro, Herodot and Yaar Kü. There’s plans to offer an outdoor barbeque on the street - weather permitting - and Distrikt’s partners AU Vodka and Northern Monk will give away free drinks to earlybirds.
Surviving a pandemic and then cost-of-living crisis has come with its challenges, but Jonathan and Rosita said their passion for the artists they support and the experiences they can offer is what keeps them going.
Jonathan added: “Over the years we’ve had some incredible nights. Some of the 6am parties we used to put on - we had the likes of Derek Carter and Green Velvet - they were iconic moments for us. It really showed all the hard work we’d put in, it made it worth it. The feedback that we got from our clientele was really rewarding.
“All of the hopes and dreams that we had at the early stage, we’re now able to put into practice. That’s one of the most satisfying journeys of the business.”