Meet the three Bristol students bringing decent tunes back to The Triangle

Read on to find out how to see student DJs without spending half your student loan


Have you ever sat at an afters talking with your mates about how “totally sick” it would be to run your own club night and play only the best music? We spoke to the Bristol students who made this a reality.

Economics students Tim Ajanlekoko, Keir Martin and Ed Shires have been trying to bring back accessible, affordable, student-led clubbing. Working with Mbargos nightclub on the Triangle, they are giving student DJs the opportunity to showcase their talent, whilst trying to revive what the “student night out” means in Bristol. They started the “Locked-In” group and began their Thirsty Thursdays event, aiming to promote DnB and jungle from fresh performers, with drinks and entry fees within a student budget.

Speaking to The Bristol Tab, the group of now third-year students said they wanted to “bring a new perspective for a Freshers’ night out.” They told us they didn’t feel there was any accessible representation of garage, DnB and jungle music on The Triangle.

Getting started was challenging, as they were competing with bigger events with budgets to promote that they couldn’t achieve, but luckily Mbargos supported them with a venue and drinks deals to help draw in students. It ended up being their consistent connection with clubs on The Triangle which helped them get this deal, so maybe all those late nights out were worth it.

“We used to go out a lot, and we knew one of the guys that worked at one of the Triangle clubs and he recognised us and told us about the opportunity. He asked us to collab with them to bring students in and work on branding, a theme and all that shit… and yeah it led to what Thirsty Thursdays is now.”

“They’ve been so supportive with whatever we need; in the first few weeks numbers were low but they believed in us and gave us a chance anyway, and now we have DJ society and a decent turnout.”

Acknowledging their venue isn’t the most popular spot, Shires spoke optimistically about the future of the event: “Not many people are backing an Mbargo’s night out, but I think if you flip the script and make it a student venue, with student DJs… they were loving it and came up to me saying ‘can you do this weekly?’ ”

For the Locked-In group, giving students a chance to perform is an important part of why they’re doing this. Speaking about their collaborative event with the Bristol University DJ Society, they told us that a lot of the first years who got to perform may have gone unnoticed if they hadn’t been given the opportunity at their event.

“For a young DJ starting up, it’s going to be demoralising. You’re practising in your bedroom, not getting any real-life sets. I think us providing them with that will help … reignite that dream and passion for it and hopefully they’ll keep going.

“There’s such a range of tunes as well. It’s not just limited to DnB and jungle, we get people with a USB stick providing music you wouldn’t find just by surfing SoundCloud, and they bring their own music as well.

“We had someone last week bring all of his own songs, and he didn’t know if they’d do well or how they’d be received, but everyone loved them and he left so happy it was incredible.”

When asked about the difficulties facing student talent and the accessibility of the art in the city, they told us that: “DJs often have to pay for a space to perform and the DJ society had been struggling to find a place to perform but, luckily, with the deal that we have, we can provide them this opportunity for free.”

Returning from Covid was always going to be a difficult transition for nightclubs as they were one of the industries which suffered the most. Statistics show that 30% of clubs have closed since the start of the pandemic and that, although numbers may be stabilising now, they are still not climbing.

Keir explained: “We all turned 18 in lockdown, so we didn’t have that chance to go out and experience it, so we wanted to go out as hard as we could with Covid right behind our backs, but they don’t have that motivation anymore. Now it’s so expensive to find a night out; a simple Gravity night out can turn into a 30 quid venture.”

The price of clubbing has been steadily rising in recent years; it’s too easy to check your bank account the next day and see £15 on Ubers, £20 on pre-drinks, £7.50 on a kebab, plus a very scary number spent inside the venue on VKs and bombs. Spending a fortune to see a 40-year-old DJ you’ve never heard of play the same 20 tunes you hear every week cannot be the only option Bristol has to offer its students?

“Without events like this, the number of student DJs will just get less and less, which is why it’s so important to create spaces for them to perform and encourage other students to support them.”

Bristol has a reputation for being one of the best cities for clubbing, and its music scene is known across Europe, but when students come here, they can be left disappointed by the lack of accessible club nights.

“We want to do it for the next generation of students; we don’t want to leave Bristol knowing that the club scene has died for the next lot of young people to come through after us.”

Thirsty Thursdays, by Locked-In events, takes place in Mbargos on the Triangle. Find information about their upcoming events with open decks on Instagram @lockedin_events_

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