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April 11, 2023

Dancing across borders

From humble beginnings in the Rhino Room basement to Tokyo’s esteemed Ruby Room, Plus One has taken over dance floors in Adelaide, interstate and around the world.

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  • Words: Isabella Xiao
  • Pictures: Supplied

Every time Plus One Co lands another venue, Alex Karatassa, a co-founder of the Adelaide-based music entertainment company, rings a bell on her desk her staff gave her as a joke.

Last year, Alex tolled that bell ferociously when she got news she’d secured a gig at Meraki, a venue in Liverpool, England.

Meraki would be the 75th venue in which Plus One had held an event, and Liverpool their 60th city – and the furthest from their Wright Street office.

Despite this impressive tally, the company, which Alex co-directs alongside Craig Lock and Ross Osmon of Five Four Entertainment, never intentionally sought out international growth – at least not in its early days.

Starting as an intern at Five Four, Alex began DJing at indie club night Transmission, which Ross had been running for more than a decade. It was here, at its original home in the Frome Street Rhino Room, Alex realised the community-building potential of themed club nights.

“[My first Transmission] was one of those experiences on a dance floor that I was, like, ‘This is what nightclubbing should be like’,” Alex says. “Standing in that crowd while other people are singing the same lyrics to your favourite song, it just feels like you’re a part of something bigger.”

If it could work for indie bangers, Alex thought other genres could be just as successful. As a “really big lover of emo and pop punk my entire life”, Alex launched Taking Back Saturday, and later editions themed on Disney, Y2K, hip-hop, ‘90s and pop music.

Alex Karatassa at a Taking Back Saturday party


In addition to broadening their musical horizons, Alex, Ross and Craig also began considering expanding their physical reach.

“We thought, ‘If it works so well here in Adelaide, why couldn’t it work in Brisbane?” Alex says.

After getting in touch with the owners of The Brightside in Brisbane, Plus One landed its first interstate venue in 2017. It was a sold-out event with a turnout of 400 people and “lines around the block”, Alex says.

They later expanded to Sydney (Oxford Art Factory) and Melbourne (Stay Gold), but their biggest break was in February 2020, when they breached Australia’s borders to Ruby Room in Tokyo.


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Alex describes their expansion to Japan as an opportunity that fell into their lap.

“Our booking agent for one of our venues in Brisbane actually moved to Japan,” she recalls. “I said to him, ‘Look, you’re in Japan now, if you ever have the opportunity, we would love to do a club night over there’. So unbelievable, but he was able to find us a venue and acted as our booking agent over there, and was our translator as well.”

Things were going well for Plus One. They hosted three more events at Ruby Room and had one lined up at LUSH, another Tokyo venue. Then came COVID-19.

“What happened was because dancing was one of the big restrictions that was around for a really long period, it affected our entire business model. Without dancing, there are no club nights,” Alex says.

Alex was dismayed but not dissuaded. She scoured the country, and even internationally, for “locations that didn’t have restrictions on dancing”. This led to the team producing more than 300 club nights in venues across Western Australia and New Zealand, which Alex says kept the company afloat.

This quick thinking saw Alex awarded the Creative Thinker gong at CityMag’s 40 Under 40 event last year.

For Alex, the next step for Plus One Co is global domination.

“I would love to continue expanding into lots of different markets – that would be a dream to me,” she says. “It’s really exciting to find ourselves in so many different places.

“This is my passion, and it is just a lot of fun, and if we can take that fun to a lot of other people as well, I’d love to see the smiles that we see on people’s faces here in Australia all over the world.”  

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