Spotlight On: Plot 22

Following the closure of Castle Market in 2013, the once-popular Castlegate area of the city centre took a significant hit in terms of footfall, earning a reputation for being a dilapidated and uninspiring part of town as a result. 

However, over the past five or six years, a collective of DIY independent venues on Exchange Street has brought some bustle back to the setting, running multi-purpose spaces for people to safely engage with music, art and all manner of creative pursuits. As a result, their combined efforts have fostered an exciting underground scene for events and nightlife. 

A key player in this revival is Plot 22, managed by Sheffield social enterprise RiteTrax. After meeting with co-founders Mike Thompson and Adam Seymour outside the venue, which housed a hair and nail salon during the market days, they welcomed us into the intimate space.

plot 22

Credit: Rhys Belding

Plot 22 regularly hosts up to 120 ravers and gig enthusiasts, treating them to an eclectic range of performers and DJs spanning genres like techno, house, jungle, bassline, hip-hop, grime, dubstep, doom, punk, and drum & bass.

“The intimacy of the space is a big part of the experience,” says Mike. “We’re offering an authentic rave experience, a great soundsystem, cutting-edge underground music across genres, and – very importantly to us – doing everything we can to make sure it’s a safe, welcoming space for people to come to.”

Following RiteTrax’s acquisition of the venue in 2017, Plot 22’s upper floors were eventually tailored into studios catering to artists and creative types – many of whose work decorate the once-magnolia salon walls – while its downstairs space focused on hosting a slew of memorable underground events, fundraisers, workshops and artistic fusions.

“The feedback we get is that it genuinely feels like a community here,” adds Adam. “I think that’s due to the size and layout encouraging interaction. We often get some of the biggest names in underground electronic music just hanging out in the smoking area between sets, chatting away with all of the customers. It’s that sort of place.” 

Beyond hosting some of the finest DIY raves in the region, the venue also serves as a focal point for the important work RiteTrax do to support vulnerable adults and aspiring creatives in the community. 

plot 22

The upcoming Castlegate Festival will feature a skate jam as well as live music and street food.  Credit: Laurence Ellis

The venue hosts bi-weekly ‘music drop-ins’ for adults in recovery to come along and learn live music production, DJing, MCing, and other relevant skills. 

They then provide an opportunity for attendees to showcase what they’ve learned at the monthly ‘Sober Socials’, an alcohol-free event promoting safe spaces for people to come and engage positively with live music and club culture.

This summer also saw the second of their ‘Get Started with Music Production’ courses, working in partnership with The Prince’s Trust charity. The free programme offers the chance for 16-30 year olds who are unemployed or on low working hours to learn from experienced music producers through a series of creative workshops.    

Their journey hasn’t been without challenges. Weathering financial uncertainty due to the pandemic and navigating the ever-changing landscape of funding, Plot 22 came close to closing its doors on more than one occasion.

Despite this, the challenges have only strengthened their resolve, and successful shows have since been flowing from an ambitious, eclectic summer events programme. 

As part of the upcoming Castlegate Festival, the Exchange Street Collective (comprising Plot 22, Delicious Clam and Bal Fashions) will be hosting a free street party on 16 September, featuring live music, DJs, street food, and skateboard jams followed by late-night DJ sets hosted at Plot 22 and Bal Fashions. 

There’s also plenty for the newly arrived student population to get stuck into, with a series of nights planned to give Freshers the chance to experience what safe, inclusive underground club culture should look and feel like.

“We’re not like some places that funnel 500 people into a venue and bombard them with bad music and shove shots deals into their faces,” explains Mike. “If people realise that’s not what they want, they can come here.”

plot 22

“We’re offering an authentic rave experience.” Credit: Rhys Belding

For more information on upcoming events and community work, head to their socials @plot22 @ritetrax


9th September: DAS BOOTY // London’s high-energy party starters take over the Plot // £12-£15 @ RA

15th September: LILY MOORE // Soulful and authentic live music // £6-£12 @Ticketweb 

16th September: CASTLEGATE FESTIVAL // Exchange Street Collective host an all-day street party with night events at Bal Fashions & Plot 22 // Free entry 

20th September: LUKAH // The up-and-coming Memphis-based rap artist joins the Plot on his UK tour // £7-£10 @Skiddle 

22nd September: DOZEH // One of Sheffield’s most exciting new party crews bring their signature bass flavours // tbc @Skiddle 

23rd September: GROOVEYARD // Celebrating all things funk, soul and disco // Free entry in disco attire (£3 without)

28th September: MOLLIE COLLINS UP CLOSE & PERSONAL // The Rinse.fm resident & certified party starter stops by on her UK tour // £5 @Skiddle

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