11 Dec In:Focus / B, Please!
Haven’t familiarised yourself with the duo Liam and Travis? Bitch, Please…no, that’s them, the promoter pair who front Bristol’s hub for hedonistic freedom known as Bitch, Please. In their relatively short lifespan, only hosting their first party in 2016, Bitch, Please has grown to become a home for Bristol’s LGBTQ+ clubbers and drag queens, a safe space and party place that ignores the ordinary white guy tropes of dance music culture.
And dancers across the UK are sharing in their ethos, too. They’ve hosted two NYD raves alongside Elrow, who also invited the pair to DJ at one of their famed Barcelona parties, and partnered up with Resident Advisor for their ‘Alternative Cuts’ series featuring an Italo disco set from Boris. They’ve introduced their pocket of Bristol nightlife to a wider audience with a partnership with Bristol Pride in 2018, made the sweat drip from the ceiling with parties at the Elite Retreat Saunas and threw one hell of a house party with Alan Fitzpatrick.
Oh, they’re welcomed some stellar guests along the way in Mike Servito, Octo Octa, Hannah Holland and DJ October to name a few. Right now, though, they’re gearing up for what may be their biggest event yet, a NYD takeover at In:Motion featuring The Black Madonna, Hunee, Palms Trax, Jayda G and many more. Until then, we speak with Liam and Travis about Bristol nightlife pre-Bitch, Please, the uphill struggle in making their party a reality and special effects gone wrong.
What are your first clubbing experiences in Bristol and how did that lead to Bitch, Please?
Liam: I started coming up to Bristol clubbing when I was 16 around 2003/04, hitting the gay clubs like The Queen Shilling & Vibes. It wasn’t until 2005/06 that I started taking my gay mates to “straight venues” like Timbuk2 and Dojolounge for parties like Drama & Play, and that’s when I first heard minimal and techno music.
Back then you were always on the hunt to try and find more gay people in these venues which was always slim pickings, we still had to be careful though. I noticed a lot of it all depended on how you held yourself in these environments, sometimes. You got stick for being gay but we kept on pushing forward, and for me, I think this is why the ethos to our parties is integration. Creating a safe space where gay and straight people can come without being hassled or attacked.
Travis: My first experience of the clubbing scene would be at Motion, not so much the partying side but working. I’ve been working at Motion for the past 6 years so I’ve seen the likes of Carl Cox, Fatboy Slim and even Snoop Dogg passing through the venue. Highlight for me is definitely the Eats Everything essential mix show back in 2012, it blew me away!
How has Bitch, Please grown over the years? And why was 2016 the perfect time to form the night?
Liam: Well, we have only been going for over 2 years now but I’d say one thing that we have seen is that people come to our parties because of the environment, then the music. I think though the timing was perfect because of what’s been going on in the music industry politically. The music scene has been mainly dominated by white, heterosexual males over the years, where we see this whole culture of VIP parties & EDM music. I think industry folk have had enough and actually there’s a lot to be learnt about the history of dance music. It started on gay dance floors, with gay DJs, gay crowds, and if you were a serious clubber and a lover of music then you should know that. That just wasn’t being represented anywhere so it’s great to see such a turn around on LGBTQ artists coming out and living their lives. Midland, Honey Dijon, Octo Octa to name a few have really helped people in the industry to come out and be proud alongside parties like Little Gay Brother and he.she.they. We’re still not there yet though. Being a DJ is one thing but being a promoter and working in a club environment is completely different. We still have a lot to teach and learn.
Travis: It’s grown at a steady pace, we have expanded to Brighton with the help from Suze who is based down there, and done a handful of Cardiff shows in the past. It’s nice growing like this, you still have time to think of where the brand is going opposed to it blowing up massive.
How have your past guests embodied your ethos towards partying and DJing?
Liam: Well, we’re quite lucky because we work in this industry full time. I’m an artist liaison manager for Motion and I work freelance at a lot of festivals and events like Oasis Festival, Resitance & Hideout, so I work with a lot of these artist all year round and we get to know one another. So for me it feels like I’m inviting our friends to come and play and they just get it. Obviously we do book a lot of DJs from the LGBTQ community anyway so they know how to deliver, but then we have a lot of DJs that play for us that have a great knowledge and respect for our community and are so comfortable with whatever their sexuality may be. There’s a kind of ‘fuck it’ attitude to our parties, we want people to come to our events and be whoever they want to be and fuck who ever they want to fuck even, if it’s just for one night!
Travis: Booking DJ’s and curating line ups opens your eyes to new and different sounds. When out partying you want to go see the warm up or resident to see what they’re into and be a part of the journey. A lot of the artists we have booked are or have become really good friends so it’s always a pleasure having them perform for us and I would hope they feel the same way.
Was Bristol’s LGBTQ+ scene missing something before Bitch,Please opened its doors?
Liam I think it was. The gay scene became quite a hostile place for a lot of gay people that enjoyed dance music and had a life that may have involved recreational drug use. You were shunned and looked down on quite a lot. This came from venues and promoters on the scene and I think this slightly damaged it. Every venue played the same music and the same chart tunes that came out when I was 17/18 (yes a long time ago). Believe it or not the main dance floors use to be house music and the camp room was always the small one at the back, but that soon changed. Our venues became more of a sight seeing exhibition full of hen parties and stag dos. You had to go to a gay bar if you were straight visiting Bristol and it was the same with our prides too that’s just one picture of what our culture is all about. It wasn’t until 2016 that we finally saw a change. 2018 saw us working alongside Bristol Pride and we hosted our own event down at the Christmas steps that allowed us to express another part of our community.
Travis: Definitely, from what I was hearing it was missing the underground feel it used to have and it went commercial. Liam approached me and asked if I would like to help build a new brand with him and I was throwing a couple of small parties during this time so was super keen to work on a new project, especially as the concept was something I hadn’t been a part of before.
How did Bristol’s LGBTQ+ music scene influence you as clubbers and as promoters?
Liam: Well, Travis is a lot younger than me and straight so he never really got to experience the movement and shift change the scene encountered and how it affected us. I think from
Feeling this and seeing this change it inspired a generation to take a step away from the scene and help create parties and spaces that show other people that there is a lot more going on in our city. Parties like DTYM, Thorny and Horseplay have all taken up in different venues in Bristol and all have their own unique crowd that attends each event.
My partying experiences were always in straight clubs so I always wanted to create an event in a known hetero environment that could change all the rules of clubbing. I like a challenge…
What, in your experience, makes a perfect party? And what will you be bringing to In:Motion on NYD?
Liam: Love. I think being a gay promoter is a lot more harder than it is in the straight community. We have to work so hard on making sure we have the right crowds attending our events and that we still have a safe space for people to dress, feel and be who they want to be. We really care about that and that will always be our priority. Loving our followers and making sure that they are our number one priority.
Travis: From our previous parties, to me, it’s about bringing everybody together, regardless who you are or where you’re from. It’s so exciting looking into a diverse crowd and seeing 3 or 4 different friendship groups all enjoying the soundtrack one of our residents or special guest DJ are supplying. Motion on NYD will be one of our biggest yet and it’s so great to be giving the opportunity to showcase our performers & dancers.
Liam: As for NYD we’re going to be taking over the main room and the Tunnel so we will be bringing our vibe across two rooms. We love the Tunnel a lot and have hosted it now for the last 2 NYD Elrow shows, so we will be transforming this and then some head to toe. And we’ve added a few new dance acts to the bill that will be entertaining in the main room alongside our amazing lineup.
What’s been your most memorable, eventful, weird or wonderful NYE/NYD experience? Any funny stories from the past would be good to hear…
Liam: I’ve always worked in nightlife so have always had to work NYE/NYD but I remember putting a stop to that and me and the gays arranged to pop our Turnmills cherry. Turnmills was the first venue in London to get a 24-hour clubbing licence and hosted the legendary gay party TRADE where the likes of Tony De Vit & Smokin Jo played. Unfortunately, between the years of 2007-2010 a lot of great clubs in London were closing down like Turnmills and The End, so we had to experience this club before it went. We went and watched Mylo, 2ManyDJs and Simian Mobile Disco who had just done the Mixmag cover CD so we had our soundtrack ready. It was insane! I’m always the one to find the spot on the dance floor where we will have space to strut so I lead the boys to it and we didn’t leave it all night!
I love it when you and your friends get out of the city you live in, you become no one and the only people that matter are your friends and the people you meet on that night. We met some wicked people, and to this day there’s one very special woman we met. She’s from Australia and before her VISA ran out we did as much as we could. Festivals, club nights and she came and spent her very last night with us in Bristol. Nights like these make for perfect memories.
Travis: Same as Liam here – I’ve worked most New Years but they have always been loads of fun. Elrow last year was special, loads of close work friends celebrating together.
I remember a couple of years ago when we had a huge balloon drop in the Motion main room and we had to cut the rope during the countdown so it released dead on 12 o’clock.. this didn’t quite happen, I think it released and finally hit the crowd about 5 seconds too late. Since then I’ve stayed away from most NYE SFXs, only the occasional handheld confetti gun.
What does the future of B,Please look like?
Liam – Well currently we’re hosting events in Bristol and Brighton and we’ve just locked in our winter residency at Brighton’s The Green Door Store and The Tempest Inn over the summer down on the seafront which we’re really excited about. Our speciality are day parties so we’ve got some pretty big dates confirmed, including our first Brighton Pride. Hopefully we will be back at Motion for a summer party and plenty of festivals lined up like Love Saves The Day, Boomtown & Shamballa.
Travis: Next year is looking action-packed. We’ve got a handful of dates locked in for Brighton and some very interesting Bristol news which is massively under wraps at the moment. We’ll be hitting up a few festivals again this year and potentially looking at some dates in Ibiza. It’s super exciting and it feels so good to be apart of a movement with a good core team behind it.
Below, check out Bitch, Please! resident Butch Queen’s addition to our ‘In:The Mix’ series ahead of her appearance at our NYD closing party: