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Stretchy Dance Supply: The bizarre club night becoming a Leeds staple

This unmissable club night is a celebration of the local DIY scene, champions emerging UK artists and encourages partygoers to stretch to their limits.

Hosting Leeds’ only ‘workout-based nightclub experience’ along with gender-inclusive DJ workshops and a stream of the most cutting edge artists in the UK, Stretchy Dance Supply are fast building a chapel to non-conformity in bass music. Founded by local party-starters Charlie Tilley (Dubrunner) and Freddie Ricketts (Sourpuss), the night has fast become a staple for the partygoers of Leeds.

Stretchy’s foundation has always been one of the bizarre. In the early stages of the high-intensity bass night, it wouldn’t be uncommon to find yourself following a surreal aerobics warm-up or having a kilo of flour chucked over you in response to the question: ‘Would you like any cocaine?’. By all accounts, it was very full-on - especially for gluten intolerant Freddie.

This relationship with comedy and performance has shifted over their two years on the Leeds party scene. Party-goers can expect the weird and wonderful, but alongside the reassurance of consistently top-drawer DJs with no interruptions.

Their parties keep you on your toes and always provide a good laugh. During their first year of parties, Stretchy worked alongside the immersive performance group Halli Galli, who performed aerobics routines to provide a serious breakbeat workout. Freddie and Charlie recall this story of faux machismo and aerobic power play: “A rogue group of people came all dressed up in wrestling gear and they said, ‘Turn the stage lights on, we’re the Blenheim boys. Where the fuck’s Halli Galli?’ They’d come to fight Halli Galli. We had no idea who they were.”

It’s this playfulness and spontaneity that Stretchy accommodates so well. It could never be called a gimmick because it’s simply woven into the fabric of the night. The Stretchy crew have also been known to place immersive performers on the dancefloor to further perplex and indulge the party-goers.

It becomes clear that Charlie and Freddie have many stories to tell, with a very endearing and introspective list of their best and worst times to share. They host these nights for pleasure and genuinely enjoy playing music together. With an alarming lack of humility, they claim that all-time favourite booking was, in fact, themselves - a four-way back to back that they managed to facilitate at their most recent event: four DJ’s, four turntables, one tune each, repeat. This extreme flex demonstrates how well the resident DJs know and understand each other. “As our sound has consolidated, we all know each other’s vibe.”

The residents at Stretchy often make edits and remix tunes to play at their night. “We make a lot of the music that we play. It means a lot to us on a very personal level, [but] we occasionally lighten up the mood by throwing in a few curveballs” teases Freddie. “It’s not too much of a heads-down party, it’s quite energetic”. Known to play eccentric tracks such as school disco classic Cha-Cha Slide under an electro beat with the Pulse X bass over it, Stretchy is a party that masterfully merges the silly with the intelligently refined.

Two names that have become anchors for Stretchy the high-energy London DJs Fauzia and Sherelle. The two emerging names aren’t far from musical family for Stretchy Dance Supply, with their similar take on club culture and the attention they’ve achieved. Fellow Stretchy resident Breaka did a guest mix on Sherelle’s radio show (Reprezent Radio) back in 2016, before she and Fauzia had their respective Boiler Room success. The two London based DJs played Leeds (Sheaf Street) for the first time last year, and guess who booked them? There’s nothing like DIY culture to exploit an opportunity for the community.

Sourpuss (Freddie Ricketts)
Dubrunner (Charlie Tilley)

Alongside the party, co-promotors Equaliser doubled up by hosting a gender-inclusive DJ workshop and Q&A aimed to encourage aspiring DJs from under-represented backgrounds who may be interested in learning from the London heavyweights. Fauzia, Sherelle and the Equaliser crew hosted 25 young women, non-binary and trans people on the day of the event – “[We] cracked open the door a little” Charlie says, “and they were all there having this really big chat. It was beautiful to see”.

Asking Charlie and Freddie who they look up to in Leeds was greeted with a unanimous response: Simon Scott. Running Subdub, Outlook festival, Dimensions festival, Tribe Records and nights in Leeds for 30 years, “He’s largely responsible for helping a lot of smaller promotors out. He gave Hessle Audio their first leg up. On the old Subdub posters, there are ones with Chase & Status or Mala in a tiny font; Simon was the first person to book Mala in the North. The second time Mala rocked up, the bus was full”.

Handing out kazoos to the crowd

It’s not just the highest heights that interest Dubrunner and Sourpuss. “We look up to the younger crowd”, Charlie says in reference to the University students running their first parties. “They’re into the same people as us, they look up to us and we look up to them because they’re pushing the same scene. It’s quite easy to get wrapped up in your own stuff and forget that Leeds still has a very vibrant DIY scene.”

With the grace, broad outlook and community that they and their peers foster, Stretchy Dance Supply is only getting bigger.

Words by Ross Wilson

Images by Kristian Lam-Clark

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