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Storyhouse Queer Meets: Nexus / Lost & Found

Storyhouse Queer is back for 2024 – a week of events, performance, film, workshops and more celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community.

To celebrate the return of our festival for it’s second year, we reached out to talk with some of the other organisations and individuals who sit at the heart of the city’s LGBTQIA+ community.

Nexus – the DJ and events collective are the team behind some of Chester’s most loved and inclusive nights, including Lost & Found – a party by and for LGBTQ+ people, their friends, and other open minded people.

We caught up with them to discuss the nightlife scene in Chester, the importance of safe spaces and community, and how their nights have grown over time.

Hi! Who are you and what do you do?

Hi there! We’re a collective of folks that run a couple of LGBTQ+ focussed dance music events, mostly in Chester, and who also DJ at other events here, there and everywhere.

How and when did Nexus begin? What was the idea behind it?

We’d moved to Chester in 2016 or thereabouts and nipped to a few parties and club nights in town, and whilst they’d been decent enough – there wasn’t really something that felt like home – which was a night that played underground dance music music and that was very, overtly, inclusive and welcoming to all people. There were quite a few nights in Manchester and Liverpool that ticked the boxes, but sometimes it’s nice to go out in your home town.

Also, we’d run into quite a few folks before we started the night that were interested in being involved, or were mega-talented DJs, artists and producers, or who were just really sound people that felt there was a bit of a gap in the nightlife and were keen to come and dance.

We wanted to provide a space for everyone to come and have a nice night, but also connect with other folks on a social, artistic or other level. Hence the name, ‘Nexus’.

A headshot photo of Jim and Andrew from Nexus, both wearing dark sunglasses in front of a graffiti covered wall.

What was the nightlife/scene like in Chester when you first set up Nexus? What did you want to see change?

There didn’t seem to be much. Chatting to folks who’d been here longer, it seemed like there used to be quite a few smaller, DIY nights in the past but most had wrapped up by the time we arrived. The nights that were still running seemed to be either fairly student-oriented, or really commercial, and definitely not focussed on the kind of music we were mostly playing at the time, and feedback from people was that those other nights could be a little bit edgy for women, LGBTQ+ folks, etc.

I think that changed in the time we were throwing those parties regularly, maybe by 2018 – up until lockdown there seemed to be lots of really fun events that popped up in small spaces with really good tunes and crowds…though Covid affected that massively.

We just wanted to throw an event we’d want to go to really: reasonable ticket prices, excellent DJs – both from abroad, around the UK and locally, in a really inclusive, welcoming space.

We weren’t the least bit interested in making money either, which is a different approach to a lot of nights – as long as we broke even over the year we were happy. So artists got paid and we donated to Pride, ShareShop and other causes – but it wasn’t a commercial night, and I think people respected that and felt it in the way we threw those parties.

Your nights are very explicitly safe spaces – why do you think this is so important?

The crew involved in running Nexus at the time was a big mix of ages, genders, and sexualities – and we’d all been raving a while, everywhere from 90s raves to parties in the woods, to Berlin so we had some solid ideas of what we wanted to create.

We were really overt at the start about these being inclusive parties, where everyone is welcome and where there was a point of contact on the night for anyone who was feeling unsafe or had any issues. And although it was pretty rare in the UK back then (though really common in Europe and now getting more prevalent in the UK now) we had a no photos / videos on the dancefloor policy from the get go. We got a bit of stick for it, but it’s nice to be able to let yourself go a bit, or dress up, without worrying about being in the background of someone’s video.

The amount of times someone would come the first time wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and next time they’d be rocking glitter.

We were really happy to make sure our DJ and artist lineups reflected the people on the dancefloor. There’s loads of parties that have consistently very male, pale and stale lineups – in all the Nexus parties so far, we’ve never had an all-straight, all-male lineup, and headliners have been 95% LGBTQ+, female, and non-white.

We also made sure that events had a good mix of local talent, folks from around the UK and international guests – for a little party we had some brilliant lineups. Never more than a tenner entry – we wanted to make it financially inclusive too, and we always had a fund for reduced or free tickets for people who wanted to come and dance with us but couldn’t afford it. It was nice when we got a full-page spread in DJ Magazine and got asked to be a core crew for the Community Bread collective, but the best feedback was always a full dancefloor.

The best thing was I’d say about 75% of the dancefloor was people who’d been before, so when new folks turned up it was a really friendly space – but with the people who’d been coming a long time there was a certain sense of confidence, so people would dress creatively and be their full selves, and that’d give new folks permission to be themselves too. The amount of times someone would come the first time wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and next time they’d be rocking glitter. Which for a hard techno night was pretty nice to see!

What was amazing as well was we started making links with other similar nights all over the UK and abroad – so had some awesome times travelling around the UK and Europe to play tunes for nice people. Fun times!


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A post shared by Lost & Found (@lostandfoundqueerrave)

And eventually you came to set up your Lost & Found nights – how did the idea for the night come about?

Covid was a big reset for everyone: DJs, artists, dancers. We’d always been into a wider range of tunes than we played at Nexus – running a hard techno night in Chester was great, but it could be hard work with finding venues, even though our crowds were really well-behaved and lovely!

I think over lockdown we were playing a lot more house music, disco, breaks, and other stuff at home – and decided we’d run a new night that was overtly for LGBTQ+ folks, their friends, and other open-minded people with a wider musical policy than Nexus had (though that was wider than most techno nights!). We also always have all-LGBTQ+ lineups. Our next party will be our fifth!

We’ll do another Nexus at some point when the right venue pops up, but L&F is taking up most of our time right now.

It’s nice to go out in your own town, you can meet new folks knowing that it’s your community.

What can people expect from a Lost & Found night? 

A range of awesome, underground music played by brilliant LGBTQ+ DJs and artists, in small, friendly spaces, where you can chat and chill or get on the floor for hours.

So far we’ve had the fab Michelle Manetti up from London to play, as well as the KissMeAgain crew from Manchester and the folks from Humble Abode in Liverpool. All absolute superstars and the dancefloor was amazing each night.

It’s also a super-mixed crowd: predominantly queer, but with open-minded friends and allies welcome too. Great mix of ages, genders, body types – with folks dressing up if they fancy it, or not if they don’t – whatever suits. No photos on the dancefloor, so feel free to go big!

Your nights provide a space for the community to come together – how important do you think these spaces are?

Hugely. I think in smaller cities especially every space is important, and not every space suits everyone so having a range of things going on is great. The more the merrier!

Although there’s lots of nights in bigger cities that are brilliant – it’s nice to go out in your own town, you can meet new folks knowing that it’s your community, and for the LGBTQ+ community to have a proper club night, with music and DJs that you’d normally have to travel too hear, and where you’re in the majority is really rare in Chester, so it’s nice to provide that.

From all that – there’s people who’ve met at our nights that are now really good friends, or who are collaborating on musical or other projects, or who’ve met their other half at the nights – they’re the things we’re most proud of in running these parties.


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A post shared by Lost & Found (@lostandfoundqueerrave)

You’ve also been part of the Kaleidoscope Club Nights here at Storyhouse – how was that experience?

Ah, that was great! We just love playing tunes for folks, and some of us work with kids and young people with additional needs in our day jobs, so to be involved in Kaleidoscope was brilliant. We’d love to do more!

What do you hope the future brings for L&F and Nexus?

We’ll keep throwing parties and playing tunes, and making spaces that wouldn’t exist otherwise…hoping for late April for our next one, and although ‘big things coming soon’ is a phrase that makes me twitch, we’re hoping for a big, new, fun link-up later in the year too.

Keep an eye on our socials for more details – for both Lost & Found and Nexus.

Are there any other LGBT+ organisations/individuals or community heroes you’d like to give a shout-out to?


First up Chester Pride – the amount of work they do for the day itself but also through the year is great, and projects like the Rainbow Tea Rooms, social groups, family support make a massive difference to LGBTQ+ folks in the city all year round.

For a small city, Chester’s got so many creative LGBTQ+ people, groups and events: Proud Marys, The Upside Down Cabaret, Neil Kendall’s awesome events, and then loads of artists, musicians, dancers and all the rest. Support your local people!