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OutUK's Adrian Gillan ventures north to Blackpool the home of earthy kitsch, horny tack and cute young cock. Not only that, but Blackpool is also the fabulous spiritual home of Strictly Come Dancing that graces our TV screens with gay boys dancing their tangos off! Whatever next for this extraordinary North West resort!
Brighton it is not: but none the worse for that. Blackpool's claim to be the gay capital of the North may be disputed by Manchester, but that doesn't stop hoards of gay day trippers and weekend breakers swapping stylish Canal Street for some seriously unpretentious end-of-pier camped-up fun.

This small town with a big heart - dominated by drag queens and marauding wannabe fag hag hen parties - sucks the queer spirit out of Liverpool and Preston and pulls punters in from London, Edinburgh and beyond. Blackpool's scene is largely down to one man called Basil who's built up a minor pink empire between Blackpool North station and the front, in the very shadow of the Tower.

Blackpool's towering erection is its most famous landmark.
When it first opened almost 20 years ago, few thought Vegas-on-acid trannie show Funny Girls - featuring a large cast of drag acts permanently dazzling in the old Odeon Cinema - would become the big hit it was. The shows couldn't be gayer but the audiences were mainly straights and hen parties, a haggish theme that runs though Blackpool like a stick of scrummy teeth-rotting rock. The show played for the last time in the Odeon in 2019 and now the famous building is being reconverted back to a cinema. Nowadays Funny Girls is in an established in Dickson Street as a cabaret bar with burlesque drag shows and an eclectic restaurant with booth seating.

Buzz Blackpool next door and upstairs - which used to be called Bar B and named not so cryptically after the ubiquitous promoter 'Basil Newby MBE' who founded the Funny Girls show, is a large and largely retro club. It plays mainly mainstream 80s and 90s trash to a packed post-show mixed-cum-gay crowd who couldn't care less as the DJ whips them into a frenzy on the floor below.

Flamingo on Queen Street is a renowned, multi-million nightclub which stages branded dance nights and named DJs until late 7 nights a week. It towers over four floors in Gothic decor like a camp, gay-friendly Hogwarts, where bitchy witchy drags used to hold court. The main floor boasts a large dance floor and stage, with 2 bars, two large projection screens and banks of video screens. However, it has become a hen party trap and general hag haven and is no longer the premiere gay heaven it used to be, as nowadays it attacts a general mixed nightclub crowd.

Established in 1994 and moved to its current location in 2006, The Flying Handbag is Blackpool’s only purpose built Gay Venue. It has recently undergone a half a million pound make-over which has seen the venue completely overhauled and modernised with a chic new decor and some state of the art sound and lighting.

R Bar is also renowned for its lively and inviting atmosphere. A diverse range of music and entertainment plus an extensive and diverse drink selection. Whether you fancy a classic cocktail or want to try something new and exciting, their skilled bartenders are ready to mix up your favourite concoctions. The bar has good reviews and a loyal following.

Stella Artois one of Blackpool's best loved acts.
Garlands Blackpool comes highly recommend if you want a night of fun and good drinks, prices which are great and loads of offers throughout the week. There are regular shows and the Drag Queens are funny. Peek-A-Booze, back on Dickson Road is a gay-friendly Cabaret and Karaoke Bar close to the heart of Blackpool's vibrant entertainment district and its sister bar The Queen Vic, just a stones throw from Funny Girls. Your host is Miss Cybil Du Vuax, famous throughout the north west for her entertaining repertoire!

Man Bar is a traditional Gay Bar with drinks offers often available and a pool table. Serves a variety of beers, spirits and snacks and can be popular. The Nightclub upstairs is the GROWLR CLUB for Men Only which is very much a cruising place with themed areas for which entry requires a wristband obtainable from the bar.

Sherlock’s Bar in Queen Street has great decor and a welcoming atmosphere for LGBT+ clientele. Pinkies boast the most friendly on the gay scene with cheap drinks and amazing service, but just remember to bring cash as they don't do cards! Their music is 70's, 80's, 90's & 00's and is just loud enough to enjoy without you having to shout to have a conversation.

Lu-Lu’s Cabaret Lounge has two bars and a 26 double-bed en suite roomed hotel. The Public Bar to the left (Lu-Lu’s) is open on Fridays and Saturdays with bar staff Linziloo & Sailor Al and host Cameron, great music and nightly Cabaret Acts and on Sundays from 7:00 pm with host Crystal Candyfloss and barman George with his superb range of Cocktails. The Lounge bar to the right (Sailor Al’s) is open on Saturdays and Sundays with its own relaxed atmosphere and Music.

AFTER HOURS ACTIVITY
If you can't find what you're looking for, take a fresh walk along the front. From the War Memorial above the North Pier, follow the pathway northwards along the Middle Walk that runs between the Promenade and the Lower Walk - there's about a mile of colonnades where men meet men after hours, not least in summer. As ever, common sense applies when out late.

Acqua in Springfield Road is the North West's longest running and busiest sauna complex for gay men, bi-sexual men and bi-curious men. It's situated close to the town center, gay venues and hotels and just 2 minutes walk from Blackpool North train station. Lots of cruising going on with men of all ages. Whether it's your first time, or if you have been to many saunas, you will find it fun & friendly.

Don't go off your trolley get on a Blackpool Tram. Photo: ultra164
W3 Sauna Complex is located within the centre of Blackpool on Charles Street, just a 2 minute walk from the Gay Village and Blackpool North Train Station. They have a steam room, Jacuzzi, and sauna all large enough to ensure everyone gets a piece of the action! It attracts a diverse group of guys who are gay, bisexual or just satisfying their curiosity.

WHERE TO STAY

There's no shortage of rainbow-flagged B&Bs and hotels in Blackpool. For a selection of accommodation including hotels and flats check out the BAGS website, run by a local association of guest houses, hotels and self-catering businesses.

Chaps Hotel is, rather appropriately, found on Cocker Street! It's Blackpool's premier gay hotel offering quality accommodation at reasonable prices. Situated just seconds away from the Sea Front Promenade, with ample parking within easy reach and close to Blackpools many attractions, including the World Famous Blackpool Tower, The Winter Gardens and The Grand Theatre.

Pride Lodge B&B is on the High Street, and is an adults-only guesthouse catering for the LGBT community within an 11-minute walk of The Blackpool Tower and Winter Gardens Blackpool entertainment venue. En suite bathrooms, the casual rooms and suites come well equiped.

Full breakfast and evening meals are served in-room with a surcharge. There's a walled garden with a hot tub. Being a smaller place with fewer rooms, allows them to offer a high standard of customer service for their guests.

Helter-skelter on North Pier
Photo: Gerald England

CC BY-SA 2.0
via Wikimedia Commons
The Prince Albert Hotel is a discrete men only hotel (there is no visible street signage) that offers four-star quality hotel style 'home-from-home' adult only accommodation for gay and bi men. Each of their bedrooms are very well equipped to a very high standard. Located just a short walk from North Station, Promenade, North Pier, Blackpool Tower and the gay bars. Three rooms have a Fort Troff Sling; two rooms a bondage bed and a bondage chair on the first landing. They operate naked & event weekends, clothing optional mid-week events. There is a comfortable dining room where you can enjoy a late full (Gluten Free if requested) English & Continental Breakfast or a Vegan or Vegetarian Breakfast. A complementary lite laundry and ironing service is provided on request.

The Wilcot Hotel on Lord Street is in the heart of Blackpool's gay quarter, and welcomes gay and lesbian guests and their friends. They are minutes from the Sea Front, Bus and Railway Stations, and near to the famous Funny Girls, Flamingo Club, Mardi Gras and many more pubs and clubs makes it a great place to stay.

Mardi Gras Public Bar & Hotel just down the road is a simple gay-run, adults-only hotel with complimentary full English breakfast served in a basic dining room. There's also a lively bar with a flat-screen TV, a dance floor and a pool table. Lawrence House Hotel is another gay hotel for the whole LGBTQ community and their friends. Located near gay bars and saunas on a quiet street, moments away from the Promenade, and a short walk from the Winter Gardens and Blackpool's major attractions.


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THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK

Acqua Sauna (25 Springfield Road; T: +44 1253 294 610; Website)
BAGS Accommodation (56 High Street; T: +44 7762 938783; Website)
Buzz Blackpool aka Bar B (5 Dickson Road; T: +44 1253 294 109)
Chaps Hotel (9-11 Cocker St; T: +44 1253 620541; Website)
Flamingo (44 Queen Street; T: +44 1253 622 573; facebook)
Flying Handbag (44 Queen St; Website)
Funny Girls (5 Dickson Road; T: +44 1253 649150; Website)
Garlands Blackpool (69-71 Talbot Rd; T: +44 1253 365246; facebook)
Growlr Club @ ManBar (25 Dickson Rd; T: +44 7538 684086; facebook)
Lawrence House Hotel (33 General St; T: +44 1253 310502; Website)
Lu-Lu’s Cabaret Lounge (78b, 82 Dickson Rd; T: +44 7376 678140; Website)
ManBar (25 Dickson Rd; Website)
Mardi Gras Public Bar & Hotel (41-43 Lord St; T: +44 1253 283633; Website)
Peek A Booze (72-74 Dickson Rd; T: +44 7864 280014; facebook)
Pinkies (14 Dickson Rd; facebook)
Pride Lodge B&B (12 High St; T: +44 1253 314752; Website)
R Bar (48 Queen St; T: +44 1253 312260; facebook)
Sherlock’s Bar (23 Queen St; Instagram)
The Prince Albert Hotel (11 Yates St; T: +44 7976 400896; Website)
The Wilcot Hotel (80 Lord St; T: +44 1253 621101; Website)
W3 Sauna Complex (3 Charles St; T: +44 1253 751199; Website)

Revised January 2024.

 

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