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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Leeds chapter.

Boiler Room: The Dance Floor faces forward

Boiler Room is on the tip of every dance music fanatic’s tongue in our contemporary music climate. Not only is it at the forefront of the live electronic music scene, contributing viral media coverage of culturally relevant artists, Boiler Room creates a space where intimacy between artist and audience is natural and expected. Following the news that Boiler Room comes to Leeds February 2024, I wanted to explore how it has blossomed from its humble roots in a London warehouse to a forward-facing enterprise with global success and support.

2010, London: Blaise Belville wants a mixtape to promote his magazine, Platform, and happens to stumble across an empty industrial warehouse. ‘Boiler Room’ is the sign attached to the wall. Inviting Femi Adeyemi, the founder of NTS Radio, to produce a mix and spin the turntables in this ‘Boiler Room’, Belville organises the first of a long line of Boiler Room sessions that are live-streamed and broadcast across media platforms. This one-off party soon spirals into a weekly, open-access event where the DJ and dancers behind the decks are filmed and later shared online. Already, Boiler Room had centred its focus on the DJ. 

As a Hyde Park dweller and accordingly, an attendee of house parties where the Pioneer DDJ-1000s take centre stage, the buzz around live electronic sets is palpable. Perhaps the Leeds 20-somethings may fall short of the DJs hosted by Boiler Room, but there is certainly room for relatability, especially considering the early days of Boiler Room. The energy dissipated from DJs mixing records in actual time, and the crowd’s keen attention to their actions, is what I believe drove Boiler Room’s success. The Leeds DJ scene is reaping the fruits of Boiler Room’s labour; this London-based establishment literally turned the dance floor on its head, directing the eyelines of club-goers to the headlining artist.

The growth of Boiler Room stems from its online and global presence. In a digital age, Boiler Room harnessed the voyeurism that youth culture is obsessed with as it benefited from the online forums and discussion boards connected to its live streams. Travelling from London to Berlin, where their first set welcomed Diplo behind the decks, Boiler Room recorded their globalisation set-by-set in an accessible medium which tech-savvy generations could engage with and comment on. Through the years 2010 until 2017, Boiler Room reached countries like Australia and China and continued to gather online acclaim and popularity through its digital publication of sets.  

It is this videography and its streaming via an open-access platform that aided Boiler Room in its reinvention of music TV. In 2018, Boiler Room shared its documentary coverage of niche music genres as a tool for broader music discovery and appreciation. Investigating and exhibiting underground music scenes and their key figures, like the UK garage presence in Ayia Napa during the 90s, Boiler Room took on an educational function. So we see how Boiler Room attempts to represent underappreciated areas of music; its intentions to laud the creators of music were apparent in this facet of work as well as its live events.

With Boiler Room comes a crowd community, as highlighted by the popularity of online streaming. Therefore when Boiler Room announced its first festival in London in 2019, it made perfect sense for the brand’s upward direction. The synergy between dancers on the dance floor, faces turned to the DJ mixing, encapsulates the festival experience. Again, Boiler Room live-streamed this and subsequent festivals, thus dissolving the barriers between those present and those watching online who were not physically there. 

My fascination with Boiler Room and its history lies in its accessible and energising medium. Live music is no easy feat, and I believe Boiler Room has recognised artists’ skills in a way that encourages appreciation for their mixing. The dance floor is wholly focused on the DJ or MC controlling the songs, centering all attention on the artist and their production. Boiler Room has developed into a global phenomenon where artists are respected and upheld, and both club-goers and online viewers can share an energetic and unique music experience. With no artists released for Leeds’ February Boiler Room, the nervous anticipation has spread around my peers for what is guaranteed to be a special event — one where I know my attention will be unmoving, facing towards the DJ’s live mix.

Edited by: Madeline Rousell

Liza Brook

Leeds '25

Hiii! My name is Liza and I'm a second year at Leeds studying English Lit. Coming from Oxford, I have definitely appreciated Leeds as a city of culture and bubbling activity. I love all things electronica and co-host the core music show for electronic music with LSR.