The real LGBTQ+ alternative for the more discerning night life enthusiast...
Identifying as a “pumping queer dance party”, Leeds-based party-throwers Love Muscle work towards delivering liberating and safe places to dance to a heady, heavenly mix of funk, soul, techno and disco.
Love Muscle have recently celebrated their 3rd birthday, and over the years they’ve welcomed celebrated artists from around the world. Octo Octa, Gideön, and Lakuti were early supporters of the party, playing alongside the Love Muscle residents.
We caught up with the collective ahead of their second appearance at Dimensions this summer, where they’ll be running a boat party alongside Manchester’s Meat Free crew, as well as bring along several of their residents for sets. Catch Michael Upson (also on our DJ directory), Tom Hannah, Lucy Locket and Chekov at in the Fort for the last dance…
To introduce themselves properly: resident Tom Hannah has delivered for us a hour-long mix of pumping house and uplifting disco that their parties have become synonymous with, and read on for the full Q&A…
Q&A with Love Muscle
Last year was Love Muscle’s first at Dimensions. What were some of your highlights?
Tom: There are so many to choose from! I had a real moment to James Holden and the Animal Spirits, I’ve been a huge fan of James since I first developed an interest in electronic music and to witness his musical journey from the Idiots are Winning to the Animal Spirits has been really interesting and inspiring! Ultimately, my best moment had to be seeing my queen, my star, my everything; Paula Temple. Paula is playing a different game to all of us right now, she is leaps and bounds beyond her peers and has the ability to pull on heartstrings whilst providing some of the most punishing beats you will ever hear. The moat is the perfect setting for her style of techno and it was a pleasure to see her melt minds in such a marvellous theatre of dance.
Lucy: J.A.W. family, Red Greg and Maurice Fulton, Friday night – I did not leave the Void (right) once I entered! As well as the music being incredible from start to finish, this was my favourite dancing space in the festival site.
What’s Love Muscle been up to since last year’s festival?
Michael: The Winter period is always about just making sure we do a really good job of nailing the monthly parties that we put on. We’ve done a big piece of work since the summer changing the way we organise so that right through our structure we are fully representative of the crowd we serve.
We’ve now got a bigger team working for us so I’ve personally been able to take a step back from doing all the jobs. Not only does this mean everything isn’t as rushed but also decisions made don’t all have a cis-white-male lens to them, which goes further towards our commitment to be a truly intersectional queer party.
We’ve also had a bit of a rebrand and thanks to Mara West our new designer, have a wicked new logo and image (see right). Apart from that our residents have all been busy further making names for themselves at various parties around the UK and releasing new material. Also shout out to all the guests we’ve had this season – Afrodeutsche, Justin Cudmore, Blasha & Allatt, Red Greg, Jaye Ward, Plukeisha & Jeffrey Sfire.
Whowould be your dream guest artist at a LM party?
Tom: We have been really fortunate to have had so many dreamy guests play for us already, I was definitely a bit starstruck to play alongside Octo Octa who is an absolute gem and proper selecta!
For me the dream would probably be DJ Sprinkles, I’ve seen her play on a number of occasions and like Paula, who would also be a dream booking, she is playing a different game. He brings a deep sense of space and transcendence to his mixing, and I think his style would fit perfectly at our home in Leeds. Apart from Sprinkles, I’d also love to see Prosumer play for us. I just want to see daddy wear some dungarees and get nice and sweaty playing house.
Michael: I’ve been trying to get Paula Temple (right, at Dimensions 2018) to play for quite some time now so if we could finally pull that off I’d be really happy. As a club night with only 200 capacity and that’s “cheap at the point of entry” for accessibility purposes we don’t have much cash to play with so negotiations can be a lot of back and forth. Carlos Souffront is also someone that’s been on my radar for ages but we can never seem to get a date that works for us both but hopefully going to get something sorted next year.
Look out for Love Muscle this year also at Birmingham Pride, Glastonbury and hosting Leeds Alternative Pride.
Did you make any musical discoveries at Dimensions?
Michael: Absolutely, I’d heard of Red Greg but never really witnessed one of his sets and I have to say I was really blown away. We were lucky enough to be on the JAW Family boat party the day after and I managed to get to speak to him for a short while. A genuinely lovely man whose been grafting for many years and who had also put on his own queer party in the 90’s.
I also had the pleasure of stumbling across Shy One (left) in the stables. It was one of those moments where you abandon the plans you have for the next few hours because you can’t bear to tear yourself away from dancing.
Festivals are always great places to inspire future bookings for parties as you try to recreate some of the magic you experienced back on home turf. We’ve since had Red Greg play at Love Muscle and have Shy One booked in for November.
What’s been a standout memory of a Love Muscle in your 3 years of operation so far?
Lucy: At times I have anxiety which makes it difficult to play sets other than the warm up, so closing the first festive fist after Wes Baggaley was brilliant because a) i did it; b) I cried at the end playing Sylvester’s Mighty Real reprise and c) I wasn’t the only one crying.
Tom: Honestly, there are too many fab moments to list! There are definitely moments that stick in my mind, Lucy playing “You Make Me Feel Mighty Real (slow version)” into the full version at the end of the night was super special. Shaun J Wright kickin’ off his set singing an accapella of Colonel Abrams – Trapped was divine and I really enjoyed our first Pride party, especially at the end when Michael played Frankie Knuckles – Rain Falls, in the rain! Honestly though every party forges a new memory or moment which sticks with you.
Thisyear you’re hosting both a Boat Party and stage at Dimensions. Can you tell us a bit about the artists you’ve invited along for the evening?
Michael: Really excited to have Peach and Eris Drew on our stage this year. Both people we’ve been following closely as their careers have sky rocketed in recent months and rightly so. They are both incredible DJs. Had the privilege of hearing Eris play in Leeds a few months back and also listen to her theories on the shamanic ritual of DJing, which I strongly relate to. They’re both super lovely people and we’ve met a few times so expect it to be super relaxed and a lot of fun.
Full info on stage takeovers coming soon.
“We’ve also got our big queer boat party with our pals Blasha & Allatt from Meat Free so pack your speedos…”
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