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Gay Blackpool refers to Blackpool, Lancashire, England, often described as the gay capital of the North (with Brighton equally often being described as the gay capital of the South).[1][2] Although having a large LGBT population and considered a tourist and entertainment town, Blackpool did not have its first "gay pride" celebration until 2006.

HistoryEdit

Historically, seaside resorts have been able to provide niches for minority groups.[3] Blackpool, like other English resorts, has had a reputation for being a safe community for gay people.[3] During the second world war, there was a proliferation of cafés, pubs and clubs where homosexual men could meet in Blackpool.[4] In the 1990s, the town began to be promoted as a gay tourist destination.[3]

Bars, pubs and nightclubsEdit

Flamingo

The Flamingo is one of the oldest nightclubs of its kind in the country, having operated from the same site since the beginning of the 1980s until 2006. The original building in which it was housed, overlooking Blackpool North railway station on Talbot Road, was bought by Blackpool Council and has been demolished as part of the ongoing redevelopment of large sections of the town. The Flamingo relocated to a new, larger premises on 27 January 2006. The new club is located in the old Odeon cinema building on Dickson Road, not far from the original site, alongside a newly-built Flying Handbag pub and Funny Girls/FG2.

Flying Handbag

The Flying Handbag originally formed part of the old Flamingo complex on Talbot Road, opposite Blackpool North railway station. Internal doors linked the two venues, the pub continuing to serve alcohol to clubgoers after its own doors had closed, and serving as a quiet "chill-out" area.

It moved to new, purpose-built premises on January 20 2006, occupying a former open-air car park on the corner of Queen Street and Lord Street, not far from the original site. The transfer of the Flamingo to the old Odeon Cinema building next door a week later saw the completion of local gay entrepreneur Basil Newby's "gay village" project, with four large venues on one block.

Funny Girls

Funny Girls is a world-famous drag cabaret burlesque showbar. It was formerly located on the corner of Queen Street and The Strand, a site now occupied by the Australian-themed Walkabout bar. In the early 2000s it relocated to the old Odeon cinema building on Dixon Road, which had recently been bought by local gay entrepreneur Basil Newby. It was the first of four venues to open on that block. The other establishments, The Flying Handbag pub and the Flamingo nightclub, all cater primarily for lesbian, gay and bisexual customers, whereas the clientele of Funny Girls is mainly heterosexual. It was also a featured location in the BBC-miniseries Blackpool, and appeared before royalty on two consecutive Royal Variety Performances.

FG2

Despite undergoing a refurbishment in 2006, and still proving to be a popular nightspot, Bar B was closed down in October 2007 and replaced by FG2 (Funny Girls 2). Funny Girls itself closes at 12midnight, and people can walk straight through into FG2 which is open until 3am most nights. FG2 has retained the bar/club type atmosphere of Bar B but is now aimed towards the straight/polysexual crowd which visits the main Funny Girls venue. Tim Coulton, the main DJ at Bar B now spins the decks on the main floor at the Flamingo on Thursday and Friday nights.

Lucy's Two

Located at 68-70 Abingdon Street, Lucy's Two (formerly "Lucy's Bar") is a bar primarily catering to lesbians but welcoming to all respectful of its nature. It also markets itself as a "dog friendly" venue.

Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras is located below ground level in the National Express coach station/Prudential complex on Talbot Road. It has been established for many years, for a long time one of only three gay venues in the town not owned by Basil Newby's "In The Pink Leisure" group (the others being Lucy's Bar and also the DT Bar). It features regular cabaret and male strippers, hosted by veteran drag performer "Stella Artois".

Pepe's

One of Blackpool's oldest bars, located at 94 Talbot Road, it is open seven days a week with regular entertainment.

Roxy's

Situated on the lower end of Queens Street, not far from Lucy's Two. Roxy's as a multi-level interior, with a dance floor downstairs, and seating/tables both up and downstairs. It is decorated in a rustic pseudo-gothic style. Entertainment includes Drag Cabaret, Karaoke, and general variety.

Taboo

Owned by Basil Newby, Taboo is the newest pub/bar-type venue in Blackpool, and is situated on Talbot Road opposite Pepe's. The interior design and atmosphere is almost identical to the old Flying Handbag pub, with a large wooden bar, camp decor and drag DJ and regular performers.

dtBar

Situated underneath The Station pub in Blackpool, dtBar is an unpretentious pub/bar-type venue with a loyal following. The bar has recently placed seating and tables outside during the day.

Caution: Most of the Blackpool venues that were once regarded as catering for and supporting the gay community have now become very mixed and as Blackpool has built a reputation for being dangerously rough at night time, it is advisable for members of the LGBT community to exercise caution when visiting these venues.

SaunasEdit

There are two saunas catering for gay and bisexual men: the Aqua on Springfield Road, and the Honeycombe on Egerton Square.

ReferencesEdit

  1. Life looks better in the pink”, BBC, 2003-08-05, <http://www.bbc.co.uk/lancashire/lifestyle/2003/08/05/in_the_pink.shtml>. Retrieved on 28 January 2008 
  2. The Gay Capital of the North”, The Bolton News, 2002-07-16, <http://archive.theboltonnews.co.uk/2002/7/16/606715.html>. Retrieved on 28 January 2008 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Walton, John K (2000). The British Seaside: Holidays and Resorts in the Twentieth Century. Manchester University Press, 161–162. ISBN 0719051703. 
  4. Rebellato, Dan (1999). 1956 and All That: The Making of Modern British Drama. Routledge, 156. ISBN 0415189381. 

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