Proud to party: Leeds Pride takes over Distrikt Bar in a celebration of love you won't forget
Pride may be scaled back, but Leeds' nightlife blossoms nothing short of beautiful for this year's celebrations.
"Right, this is it." I muttered to myself as I repacked my records into my bag for the third time over.
As a DJ, choosing what you're going to play in a club is hard enough as it is, but the first club back since all this started two years ago? The stakes were much, much higher.
You have to get the mood right, set the tone- it's a daunting prospect. But lockdown gave me much to think about, lists of albums to create and songs to pair perfectly together. I felt ready for the evening ahead.
It was Sunday afternoon and I was about to set off to Distrikt Bar for one of the sweatiest nights of my life. I'd been DJing around Leeds over the last few months, at the sit-down, order-at-the-table-type events we were all getting a little too chummy with.
But since bars and clubs have reopened I've been one of the folk ferreted away indoors, nervous about what the world might look like if I ventured outside.
Now, I thought, it's time. As I hauled my bag down three flights of stairs and tucked it away behind the booth, I suddenly felt overwhelmed with emotion.
Finally, I can watch people dance! And more so, be one of those people - hands in the air, two-stepping across a sticky beer-coated floor for hours on end.
Sunday's line-up was all about Pride.
August is, of course, Pride month, and the DJ collective Studio Honey had hand-picked selectors from across the North to bring blood-pumping house beats to Leeds.
I was one of the lucky few behind the booth, but it was what went on directly in front of it that was pure magic.
I don't know if the warmth, love and electricity I witnessed was a consequence of us being trapped inside for too long or the result of Pride itself, but there was nothing but unadulterated joy and freedom in that room.
The dance floor swelled; everywhere you turned there were smiles plastered across the faces of those truly feeling the passion for freedom this night had created. As far as a celebration of love and acceptance goes, it didn’t get any better than this.
As I trapsed home several hours later, dragging my bag of records through an empty car park in Briggate, I thought about how often we get to see such a large group of people coming together to stand proud and celebrate love.
Not often enough.
And with the ripples of the pandemic still being felt by the entire world, this year’s Leeds Pride has been scaled back - the annual parade now cancelled for the second year running to the disappointment of organisers.
Yet despite this, the adoration in the air on Sunday made this year's Pride feel just as powerful as any other.
One love, one beat, one feeling.
There are several Pride events coming up in Leeds, including Mardi Gras Festival’s Proud in the Park on the 14th August. Find out more about the festival on their website.
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