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Chris Collins and James Leadbitter coined the term People Like Us – a.k.a. PLU – as an inside joke one Friday evening at Broadway Market in East London. It was a name they gave to the local hipsters they poked fun at after it dawned on them that, whether they liked it or not, they were no different. They were just “people like us”. Now PLU is a name recognised as one of Bristol’s most loved LBGTQ+ parties as well as its resident collective of DJs and their community of dance music lovers. On their eleventh anniversary, we’re delving into PLU’s roots and how it became a haven for Queer identifying people in the South West to dance together far away from the constraints of day-to-day existence.

Chris Collins was a TV, Film and Theatre student in Glasgow in 2005. Hailing from Birmingham, the move to Scotland’s culture capital was like walking into a musical kaleidoscope. They found their footing partying at the iconic Optimo – a weekly Sunday night club at the Sub Club – which was the first time they recall hearing eclectic mixing. It wasn’t just house or electro or techno; it was music pinned together by groove and soul. Resonating with the scene immediately, it was also in dance music that Chris found solace after a childhood spent making sense of their ADHD. “I remember going to one of my first raves and thinking, ‘Oh my god, everyone’s behaving how I do every day so I don’t stand out as much,’” they say.

Whilst in Glasgow, Chris crossed paths with James, who became a sort-of sonic twin flame, and the duo relocated to London in 2009. They found themselves submerged in the activist community, where squat raves and free parties became a second home and opened the doors to DJing. “I just got more and more of a bug. We got some software and we started messing around,” Chris remembers. Eventually, they secured a gig in Dalston’s Ridley Road Market Bar, where the manager asked for their name and People Like Us was born.



In 2012, their next move was to Bristol, where Chris began hunting for gigs. “Part of the strength of Bristol is part of the frustration. It’s great for local talent and developing, but can be somewhat inward-looking,” they say. Leaving the city was on their mind. “I really couldn’t get into the music, and everything was drum’n’bass.” As an ultimatum, they decided to commit to one year of partying and properly scope out the scene.

It was then they made connections with Dirty Talk, the tastemaking crew now behind one of the city’s most treasured party spots, Strange Brew. Dirty Talk was bringing some of the most exciting names in the underground to Bristol’s dance floors at the time – think Hunee, Prosumer, Young Marco. The party’s influence on PLU and what it was growing into was monumental. “Everything I’ve learned, the way I look after artists and stuff like that, I learned from Dirty Talk.” With newfound confidence and one foot in the door, People Like Us spread its wings.

The rules were always simple to them: “Everyone was welcome. Everyone should feel safe. And we play really good music.” It was this commitment to the people of the party that beckoned an increasingly colourful crowd. “We didn’t start off as an expressively Queer party, so many Queer people just started to come to PLU that they sort of took it over and we felt a responsibility to protect this and maintain a safe space,” Chris reflects. “I’ve definitely become more Queer from running it. It’s happened really organically.” 

The first few parties happened in a time of panic for Bristol’s dance scene. Venues were closing thick and fast and there was an eager hunt for new spaces. For PLU, things heated up when they were given the opportunity to curate a night for a now-long-gone clubbing destination’s eviction party. The Motorcycle Showrooms threw one last bash as a fundraiser to clear their financial debts. Bringing disco-influenced DJ and artist Daniel Wang alongside the PLU residents, the party went on until 10am with a queue winding down Stokes Croft all night. Not only did they clear the debts, PLU flaunted everything they were ready to become.



“It was a real thing back then, because there weren’t very many venues in Bristol. Everyone kept looking for a warehouse,” Chris tells me, highlighting one key party that happened after joining forces with Dirty Talk. Bringing Mr Ties (of Homopatik) to a secret sex club in Speedwell, they directed crowds with just a trail to follow leading to the venue. 

Eventually, PLU found a residency at a local gay sauna on the edge of the city centre, later becoming known as Dare To. Having thrown parties on the venue’s tiny rooftop space every June, July and September for six years, Chris reminisces: “We’d sell the parties out in five minutes and had some incredible DJs up there – Paquita Gordon, Jayda G, Ivan Smaggemost we were booking in Bristol for the first time

Moving with new waves of rising artists, PLU’s musical identity has evolved with the scene, as well as the team behind it. “The music at PLU changes according to what I’m into at the time,” Chris tells me, calling the common denominator “druggy electronics – even if you’re not on drugs, it makes you feel like you are.”

The introduction of Jaye Ward into the crew a few years later influenced a change in the music massively, and once she began playing with them, her indisputable spectrum of musical knowledge became a pivotal part of the PLU sound. Chris describes the influential characters of the community as PLU’s ‘ingredients’. “There’s Pat, who looks after the decor, Alan from Amber Audio who provides the sound. It’s been largely the same team the whole time and we’re constantly growing.”



Post-pandemic Bristol has grown increasingly rich in Queer nightlife. There’s been a huge surge in both communities and parties, which Chris suggests is representative of the influx of creative young people moving to the city, especially as the rising cost of living in London starts to overshadow its artistic appeal. We discuss the potential for oversaturation and issues that could arise from this, but Chris is strikingly positive. “Back in the day, everybody used to say: ‘Are you going to Dirty Talk next week?’ because that was the only thing on. That’s great, and it does build a sense of community, but also I don’t want to see the same people every week.” 

Today, some of Bristol’s fresh Queer promoters are leading the way for the future of LGBTQ+ clubbing in the UK. Crotch, Queerky and Conqueer are just some of the names Chris can’t praise enough. “I never want to be a rock; I want to be a sponge,” they say. “I’m truly inspired by these younger people. It keeps me going.” PLU found inspiration in Queerky’s no phone policy, and adopted elements of their safeguarding policy at their own nights. The Queerky crew are also heavily involved in PLU’s annual summer camp, an event fusing live music, performance and DJs for three days in a secret South West location.

Chris explains that the increase in Queer nights in Bristol has not resulted in more competition, but rather a unified front that can put pressure on outdated systems and mentalities around clubbing. “One of the advantages of the scene growing is there’s more power. We sell out our parties so venues want us,” they explain. “It affords us to be able to go, ‘Well if you want us, you need to have x,y,z in place.’” Newer venues like Strange Brew, Lost Horizon and Dareshack are paving the way, operating Queer nights with LGBTQ+ security only and implementing wellbeing teams. The narrative appears to be shifting into the functionality of nightlife in wider society.


On this note, the conversation turns to the elephant in the room. “The problem with UK clubbing, Queer or straight, is that a lot of people are high but no ones talking about it,” Chris asserts, emphasising that active care for party-goers is incredibly important to how PLU parties operate. “As security or wellbeing, you’re working with vulnerable people, really. They’re inhibition free when in the zone on the dancefloor. How you interact them is really important.” 

As a vocal advocate for putting your crowd first, Chris discusses the ways their energy and respect can almost become a currency in itself. Speaking on the PLU community, they reflect: “Their enthusiasm, their love, their loyalty has enabled me to book some incredible artists.” PLU might not be able to afford the fees big clubs can, but have always managed to hook artists by promising three things: it’ll be one of the best parties they ever play, the sound will be incredible, and there’s a community of dancers who’ll dance non-stop til the end. “And they’ve never let me down,” they say through a smile.

They’ve recently announced the end of their parties, but in discussion with Chris, it seems they might just be around for a little while longer yet. “Every party we do, I say it’s the best one. I think if you stop saying that, then it’s time to finish. And we definitely haven’t stopped saying that yet…”

Eleven years on, Chris is the facilitator of a vibrant, accepting and safe community. “So many people say they’ve met their lifelong partner at PLU, or they weren’t gay and now they are, or our party was the first time since they’ve had top surgery where they felt like they could be naked and be safe and dance and feel sweat dripping down their body and feel amazing about it,” Chris sums up. “It’s those things I’m proud of.”

Listen to the latest Crack Mix by peoplelikeusdj and follow them on Instagram to find out about their upcoming events including this year’s Summer Camp 7-9 June.