Inside the Imaginarium - Leeds’ Music Venue, Arts Space, and Record Shop
After several months of anticipation, The Imaginarium opened its doors in Winter 2022, instantly becoming a big part of Leeds’ nightlife and arts scene. There’s been a plethora of events taking place since then, from sold-out techno raves and album launches to yoga sessions and poetry events.
The seeds for The Imaginarium were planted in 2019, the team behind it originally utilizing a Warehouse in an industrial estate as a recording studio and for large-scale artwork. ‘The idea of making it into a space that hosts club nights came about because we threw a party at the end of 2019. We’d originally intended it to be a little party for our mates, but it turned into this massive thing’ says Roya Brehl, one of the founders. ‘After that, it seemed like the natural thing to do’. Not long after these initial parties, COVID-19 hit, and the circumstances surrounding the pandemic lead to Roya and Rob Chadwick searching for a new space to run The Imaginarium.
Several lockdowns later and with a handful of new faces, The Imaginarium found a new home on Church Walk, officially opening in December 2022 to the delight of electronic music fans around Leeds. ‘‘It’s been amazing to see everything come together.” Roya says, “I’ve barely had time to stop and think about it all to be honest '. Complete with a stellar sound system that was put together by Pete Melba during the pandemic, the first few months have been a welcome success that fits comfortably in the city’s electronic music scene.
It’s not just club nights that the space hosts - from Thursday to Sunday, downstairs operates as Plant & Deck, a houseplant and record shop. Phil Warner, who runs the shop, said the idea started out a few years ago as a joke - ‘I like silly puns and had been messing around saying that it would be a hilarious idea. Once a few people agreed and I’d got the concept stuck in my head I started to convince myself that it could actually be profitable and altruistic at the same time. It’s certainly unique and I love the marriage between plants and music - the shop is basically an extension of my living room’. The records stocked are likely to have a similar sound the record’s you’ll hear being played at the parties there - house, techno and breaks, and particularly the more left-field sounds existing in these genres. While much of the stock is brand new, there’s a pre-loved section, and Phil’s love for classic electronica such as Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada also shows. In-store events also take place in the shop, inviting labels to showcase their sound so customers can have a drink and listen to the finest DJ’s whilst they browse.
Alongside club nights and Plant & Deck, the Imaginarium also hosts Yoga Classes, spoken word events, art installations, and NARR Radio. ‘There’s something I really like about the idea of going to a space for a rave on a Friday or Saturday night, and then being back there a few days later, in a transformed environment, doing yoga’ says Roya. Another exciting event series hosted by the club is Bookwatching, which combines poetry with visuals and ambient music.
Forthcoming club nights to look forward to include Alto Radio showcase on July 14th, and Catch Recordings
hosting the Lukas Wigflex on July 21st. More listings can be found on their Resident Advisorpage. Be sure to check out these parties and to pop in to dig for some records and/or houseplants, or just to check out what else they might be hosting that day - you really never know!