Kane Towning Interview: Meet Tom Zanetti’s business partner and the pioneer behind Leeds Dollhouse and Playroom bars
After spending 15 years performing around the world, DJing for longtime friend and business partner Tom Zanetti, Kane put his music career on hold as he ventured into the business world.
The 34-year-old, who grew up in Whinmoor, has been immersed in the Leeds nightlife scene since he was barely in double figures. .
He watched changing trends, accelerated by social media over the past few years, and made it his mission to create a bar empire across the country.
Kane was introduced to the club scene as a child when his mother opened one of the first after-hours clubs in Leeds – Glasshouse.
“It was my first time seeing turntables, speakers and DJs and I remember hearing this huge PA system.
“I was obsessed with nightlife, clubbing and music from that point on. I never wanted to do or be anything else.”
Kane’s mother bought him his first set of turntables when he was 12, and by the age of 15 he was performing all over town and promoting events.
He met Tom Zanetti a few years later as the duo made a name for themselves in Leeds, Tom as MCs and Kane as DJs.
‘I grew up with nothing but love’: Tom Zanetti on life in Leeds, lockdown and This…
It was a natural partnership, with Tom “jumping” over Kane’s sets, but their association with the bassline scene – which had become linked to incidents of violence – meant they struggled to be reserved for events.
“We decided to do our own events and Insomnia was the first big night,” Kane said.
“That’s when we really teamed up and turned it all into a business.”
Kane and Tom, then close friends, founded their events company Sleepin is Cheatin in 2010 – hosting their Freak and Insomnia parties at Club Mission every Friday and Saturday.
“It’s unheard of for a night to last this long,” Kane added.
“We never relied on big headliners to fill the events, the whole philosophy was to bring in local talent.
“Social media has completely changed the face of clubbing in recent years. As crazy as it sounds, now it’s all about where you can take a picture, wear that outfit, get content, and post the next day where you’ve been.
“So being in your regular nightclub on a Saturday night has lost its appeal.”
Kane said the nightlife scene is split between people who go for big events and those who want to dress up, go to a cool bar and get VIP treatment.
It’s the latter market that he’s capitalized on with Tom, launching VIP bar Dollhouse in 2019 and dining venue Playroom this year.
“Leeds were ready for Dollhouse,” Kane said.
“It was scary because it was the biggest risk we’ve ever taken, we put everything into it – all our savings.
“I quit DJing, quit drinking, quit partying. I’m 100% committed to it.
“It never entered my thought process that it wouldn’t work. He had to.
And he did; table reservations were gone before the bar even opened.
There wasn’t a big marketing campaign, just word of mouth and Instagram posts that helped the Dollhouse hype spread like wildfire.
The bar was teeming with guests, including many famous faces, until just eight months after it opened when it all came to an abrupt halt.
“It happened at such an important time in my life,” Kane added.
“I hadn’t stopped since I was 15, I was absorbed in work and doing what I loved. After I passed 30, there was always a little voice in my head telling me : ‘do you want to do?’
“But after taking it off for the first time in my life, it gave me a new purpose and more confidence going forward.
“It made me appreciate what I do and how lucky I am to be able to do it.”
Reaching the heights of his musical career
The peak of Kane’s music career came in 2018, when he played at Ibiza’s superclub Ushuaia with Tom.
It was always a dream for the couple to perform on the island and it marked the end of a chapter in Kane’s career – a catalyst to focus their efforts on launching Dollhouse, satisfied with the highs they had. achieved as a duet in music.
“It was the perfect set,” Kane said.
“Everything was fine and I walked off stage and started crying, because I knew this chapter was over and I was ready to continue in open venues.
“It was a bittersweet moment, I knew after that nothing would compare. I had accomplished everything I wanted to do.
“Now, if I want to play, it’s only for love.”
Opening of a new beverage and restaurant concept
After getting Dollhouse back up and running this summer, Kane and Tom launched their second Leeds bar, Playroom, last month.
The new dance, drink and dine concept combines a small plate menu with live entertainment, stylish booths and a dance floor, hosting tribute acts and themed events every Sunday.
It’s inspired by the couple’s favorite Ibiza hangout, STK, which combines exquisite steaks with some of the best parties on the island.
“Everyone is still working,” Kane said.
“Is it a restaurant? Is this a bar? Do I dine, do I dance? People arrive not knowing what to expect and leave not understanding it, but knowing they love it.
“It was interesting for me, as an operator, to see this reaction. Our main priority was to eat well and it has only good reviews.
“We tweak it every weekend and it only gets better. It’s a really special place.
Leeds was always going to be the first focus of their business ventures, and Kane will spend the next six months developing the arcade concept, but he has big dreams for the next five years.
He said: “We will start looking for other territories and cities where Dollhouse and Playroom will operate, rolling them out over the next five years.
“So we would like to open beach clubs in all major tourist destinations.”
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