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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 now gracing 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.

To dance the night away try Flamingo's on Queen Street which towers over four floors in Gothic decor like a camp, gay-friendly Hogwarts, where bitchy witchy drags hold court. It's true: homophobes couldn't survive here. However, it has become a hen party trap and general hag haven. It has an ultra-modern main dance floor with high-tech sound and lighting. Not to be missed!

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 & modernised with a chic new decor and state of the art sound & lighting.

If it's glam and glitter with plenty of drag that you are after then Sapphires is definitely top of the list. They have a different show every weekday and Saturday night, with drink promotions and DJs too. Su Nammu, Lucy Fur, Missie Jay and Bonnie La Blue are just a few of the drag artists who'll be there to entertain you late into the night.

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. KAOS has an industrial feel to it and on the dance floor, the music really kicks - the sound is rich and full, and you'll really appreciate the skills of their Celebrity DJs. The drinks are well priced and it's a good place to go for the evening.

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 whcih is very much a cruising place with themed areas for which entry requires a wristband obtainable from the bar.

And if you don'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 and friendly.

Don't go off your trolley get on a Blackpool Tram. Photo: ultra164
There's no shortage of rainbow-flagged B&Bs in Blackpool. For a selection of accommodation including hotels and flats check out the BAGS website, run by a local association of gay guest houses, hotels and self-catering businesses.
THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK

Acqua Sauna (25 Springfield Road; T: 01253 294 610; Website)
BAGS Accommodation (56 High Street; T: 07762 938783; Website)
Buzz Blackpool aka Bar B (5 Dickson Road; T: 01253 294 109; facebook)
Flamingo's (44 Queen Street; T: 01253 622 573; facebook)
Flying Handbag (44 Queen St; Website)
Funny Girls (5 Dickson Road; T: 01253 649150; Website)
Garlands Blackpool (69-71 Talbot Rd; T: 01253 365246; facebook)
Kaos (38-42 Queen St; T: 01253 318798; Website)
ManBar (25 Dickson Rd)
Peek A Booze (72-74 Dickson Rd; T: 07864 280014; Website)
Sapphires (114 Talbot Road; T: 01253 297740; Website)

Revised September 2021.

And as for Strictly Come Dancing this week we have an exclusive interview with Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood.

 

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