Music

18 must-visit LGTBQ+ club nights around the UK

© Press
From decadent glam parties to burly bear havens, here are a brace of British clubs and club nights pushing inclusivity, body positivity and an outrageous good time.
Written by Red Bull UKPublished on
Like British clubland as a whole, the UK’s LGBTQ+ scene currently face a number of challenges, with rent rises and inner city development turning the screws on alternative nightlife across the country. Cliff Joannou, editor of Attitude magazine editor, recently told the Guardian he believes that a third of the capital’s LBGTQ+ venues have closed since the recession.
The good news is that this is a scene used to fighting for its right to party. Below follows a list of great LGBTQ+ venues and club nights around the UK. Some are established scene mainstays, others are just a handful of parties old, but all guarantee an outrageous good time.

1. Dalston Superstore

Where: Dalston Superstore, London
Café-cum-club Dalston Superstore remains a hub for LGBTQ+ nightlife on the East London strip, with great parties nightly Wednesday through to Sunday. Amongst the must-attends: eccentric electronics and pornstar martinis at Uncontrollable Urge (Wednesdays); cult-status toilet rave at Happy Endings (second Thursdays); and the big gay mobile strip club replete with gogo boys on the bar at drag night A Man To Pet’s Basic Boys! (PW)

2. BBZ

Where: Various venues, London
BBZ is very much at the new wave of gay clubbing. The brainchild of photographer Tia Simon Campbell and cinematographer Nadine Davis, it came into being to provide a space for QTIPOC (Queer, Trans, Intersexed People of Colour). What this means is a fantastic mix of radical music – from X-Ray Spex to Erykah Badu, A Tribe Called Quest to So Solid Crew – and some incredible events, including takeovers at the Tate Britain and appearances at QUTE and Kallida festival. (PW)

3. Chapter 10

Where: Various venues, London
Take someone to their very first Chapter 10 and watch their eyes widen with disbelief that a large “gay rave” playing something other than tech-house exists. A slice of paradise for gay men in the capital; the always unannounced programming is as paramount as the freedom to express exuberant homosexuality. (RW)

4. Eat Sleep Drag Repeat

Where: Various venues, Bristol
The home of RuPaul's Drag Race artists in Bristol, ESDR was set up by the team behind the all-conquering “underground homo disco” Horseplay, and boundary-pushing non-binary arts festival Submerge. Hosted by ‘drag prince’ Alfie Ordinary, it's a queer playground for fabulous misfits everywhere. (GTDC)

5. G-A-Y At Heaven

Where: Charing Cross, London
G-A-Y remains the pre-eminent LGTBQ+ party in the UK, and its flagship nights at Heaven, a storied nightclub tucked under Charing Cross Station, are a rite of passage for many. Monday night’s Popcorn mixes up hip-hop, R&B and deep house across four rooms. Meanwhile, Friday night’s Camp Attack dials up the cheese, with a drag queen show kicking off the far side of midnight. If you can’t make it over to Charing Cross, check out G-A-Y’s two Soho venues, G-A-Y Bar and G-A-Y Late. (PW)

6. Gbar

Where: Eberle St, Liverpool
Now the ripe age of 21, the three-room Gbar is still the undisputed daddy of Liverpool’s LGBTQ scene. It’s famed for its after hours parties in the underground BASSment, where you’ll hear the likes of Greco, Jody Harsh and CDC playing house music on a powerful sound system right through til 7am. (PW)

7. Metropolis

Where: Metropolis, London
Metropolis strip club is the longstanding home to late night LGBTQ+ disco Savage. In April 2018 they opened their doors mid-week to host a cabaret series curated by the team behind Sink The Pink, Savage and The Mighty Hoopla. The Metropolis live programme invites performers from all disciplines: spoken word, live music and drag for a proper East End cabaret show. (HJ)

8. Glitter Shit

Where: The Nightingale Club, Birmingham
“Some queer people unfortunately haven't got the confidence to venture outside of Birmingham's LGBTQ+ spaces,” say Glitter Shit. “We wanted to create places for them to perform, party and express their creativity.” Founded by drag queen Lacey Lou, promoter Daniel Brown and designer/photographer Antony Collins, Glitter Shit is a community-spirited party with an emphasis on the queer, outrageous and artistic. Extravagant dress-up mingles with experimental artwork, and a portion of the event proceeds goes to local homeless, mental health and LGTBQ+ charities. (PW)

9. Hey Mary

Where: Ten Feet Tall, Cardiff
Visit alt-drag hotspot Hey Mary and you may see Medusa drenched in oil and toxic waste, or the belly-dancing Egyptian refugee Dancing Queer. It's the surrealist brainchild of Christobel and Neufunkaum AKA Sissy Boy Tears, a DJ duo with a penchant for dirty melancholy on the dancefloor. (GTDC)
Hey Mary
Hey Mary

10. Homoelectric

Where: Various venues, Manchester
Even before Queer As Folk was airing on British telly, Manchester institution Homoelectric was throwing parties at the now defunct Follies way back in 1998. Despite celebrating almost two decades, the good natured and loyal crowd combined with a commitment to diversity in their DJs, ensures this grand dame of northern clubbing will never not be relevant. (RW)

11. Horse Meat Disco

Where: Various venues, London and beyond
Horse Meat Disco started in 2003 as a Sunday night disco for London’s alternative LGBT+ crowd. Nowadays The Eagle in Vauxhall still hosts London’s ‘queer party for all’, while HMD’s James Hillard, Jim Stanton, Luke Howard and Severino Panzetta travel the world. They’ve also just released a killer debut single. (ME)

12. Hot Mess

Where: Various venues, Glasgow/Edinburgh
Luckily for the queer citizens of both Glasgow and Edinburgh, they don’t need to travel far to find a great LGBT night as Hot Mess takes place in both cities. With regular guest spots from Optimo, and unannounced appearances from the likes of Midland and Rory Phillips alongside resident Simonotron, it’s a friendly and welcoming place to dance whatever your sexuality. (RW)

13. Kiss Me Again

Where: Soup Kitchen, Manchester
Another relatively young party, but Kiss Me Again – which takes place on the first Saturday of every month at Manchester’s Soup Kitchen – has already distinguished itself with its discerning mix of house and techno and a cool, inclusive crowd. For a glimpse of what they do, dip your toe into their monthly show on NTS Manchester. (PW)

14. Pink Fringe

Where: The Marlborough Theatre, Brighton
Brighton thrives with LGBTQ+ activity, but it’s worth highlighting the activities of Pink Fringe. Run out of the welcoming Marlborough Theatre just a stone’s throw from the Royal Pavilion, Pink Fringe isn’t just a club, but a hub, mixing up DJ sessions and street parties with queer history quizzes, drag king open mics, theatre nights, and even a science festival (the upcoming Out Thinkers, which highlights the talent of LGBTQ+ researchers). (PW)

15. Pussy Palace

Where: Various venues, London
Being a safe space doesn’t mean you have to shut out the party animals – and Pussy Palace is the proof. Founded by Glaswegian ex-pats Nadine Artois and Skye Barr, this London party presents banging hip-hop with an emphasis on inclusivity and body positivity. As Artois told Dazed & Confused: “Our female and queer guests come down so they can dress how they want and twerk as hard as they like, because the atmosphere is fully charged with acceptance and sexual freedom.” (PW)

16. Resis’dance

Where: Various venues, London
Resis’dance are a group of badass London based women “smashing the patriarchy and supporting under funded radical grassroots organisations.” In between throwing parties that function as a safe space for QTIPOC (that’s Queer Trans and Intersex People Of Colour) they also host DJ and tech workshops for marginalised folk and help support their sisters getting into nightlife. (RW)

17. Savage

Where: Metropolis, London
Savage is the Sink The Pink-affiliated LGBTQ+ rave which takes Hackney’s Metropolis club captive every Saturday night. House, techno and disco vibes come from residents Hi-Fi Sean, Luke Solomon, Guy Wiliams and Jonjo Jury, plus talented newcomer Joshua James. Expect drag queen dancers, Vegas strip club vibes and unrestrained joy. (ME)
XXL
XXL

18. XXL London

Where: Pulse Nightclub, London
XXL certainly knows its niche. This is home to the Bear – gay men of generous proportions – although of course their many admirers are equally welcome. Located in Pulse on London’s South Bank, XXL promises a zero attitude door policy, while themed nights – Rugby, Lumberjack, Construction and Leather – offer a variety of ways to show off those physiques. XXL are also looking further afield, with events in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Birmingham. (PW)
The above selections were made by Manu Ekanayake, Hayley JoyesGwyn Thomas de Chroustchoff, Phillip Williams and Rachael Williams.
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