Leeds online disco to be hosted and DJ'd by adults with learning disabilities

Party people in Leeds are invited to get their dancing shoes on for a disco with a difference in the city next month.

By Joanna Wardill
Wednesday, 30th December 2020, 4:45 pm
A previous party - held pre-Covid - organised by The Party People, with an outer space theme.
A previous party - held pre-Covid - organised by The Party People, with an outer space theme.

Hosted online by adults with learning disabilities, the zoom disco is open to all and promises a fun-filled two hours of music and dance on February 5 form 7-9pm

The event is organised by the Party People Project and follows on from the success of previous online discos, based in Bradford, which have attracted over 50 people from across England and as far afield as America.

Pre-Covid, the Project ran parties in person, to create a safe space for adults with learning disabilities to stay out late and party, as well as integrate with adults who don’t have disabilities.

Chemaine Cooke, of The Party People Project at a pre-Covid New York Retro-themed party.

February’s disco is the first time the event has been based in Leeds, thanks to funding from Leeds Inspired, and will be hosted online by ten people with learning disabilities from the city.

Leeds DJ James Heselwood, who runs the Party People Project with dancer Chemaine Cook, said: “It’s brilliant that we’re coming to Leeds. It feels like bringing it home for me, which is great.

“There’s a lot of scope in Leeds for people to join - there are a lot of learning disability groups and organisations for us to connect with."

James, who is also a founding DJ of Meanwood Radio, said he and Chemaine were keen to find a way to adapt their event once Covid-19 hit.

Leeds DJ James Heselwood doing DJ practice with participant Israr Abbas.

Previously, their ten host DJs met up in workshops before each party where they would decide on a theme - such as outer space, underwater or jungle - and were taught to DJ, make decorations and dance together.

These workshops now take place online, and while James now has to take over the DJing on the night, the tracks themselves are still chosen by his fellow hosts.

“In the online workshops we think of tracks which will get people up dancing, test them out, have a dance, come up with a dance.

“We did our first party online and had about 45 people attend which just blew our minds. So many people came to join. And the next time we had about 55 so we’re just attracting more each time and people are staying for the whole two hours.”

He said: “The people that put the party on get a real sense of empowerment about it - we send them a T-shirt to wear on the night.

“I think during the pandemic it’s provided a real relief for people to come out and dance - with lots of people dancing and having a really good time.

“It’s been really good to feel connected through the medium of having a party and with everyone just dancing and enjoying the music.”

To register an interest in hosting an event, or to join in the February party, search ‘The Party People’ on Facebook or email James at [email protected]

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