In The Pink- A Guide to Sheffield's LGBT Scene
Sheffield doesn’t have much of an LGBT scene. But it does have one. Joseph Middleton has made a splash in the waters.
University; a fresh start, time to flee the nest and spread your wings, the opportunity to stand on your own two feet for the first time. All these clichéd and hackneyed sayings can certainly apply to this life-altering experience of leaving home to study (and party) full-time.
Also, for some, this provides the perfect opportunity to come out with their sexuality. Gone are the expectations and trappings of the school common room social-prison. Gone is the close-eye and constant scrutiny from your family; all of a sudden you’re faced with the possibility of new friends, and you don’t have to give the labored explanation of how you’ve been “living a lie” to those who’ve known you since you were sharing Ribena cartons and taking turns on the monkey bars. You can finally behave as the person you’ve always wanted to be.
Of course, some of you coming to university will have been lucky enough to have accepted and be proud of your sexuality as soon as you entered puberty. You may have already had the ‘gay makeover’ and consider yourself to be very scene-savvy. Still… unless you’ve really done the rounds, and visited Sheffield before, you’ve got a whole new set of venues, rules, stereotypes and club nights to come to terms with. Allow me, if you will, to help break you in more smoothly.
Where to Begin?
The most obvious starting point, from a student point of view, is the nightlife. Cheap drinks, banging music, late opening hours, sexy clientele are all good, no? Luckily, one of the cities best gay nights is on your doorstep, as it were, at the Sheffield University Student Union. Climax is touted as “South Yorkshire’s number 1 gay event” – and it’s easy to see why. Split across two generously sized rooms, the venue is trendy while not being too showy. You’ve not got drag queens and burlesque dancers immediately shoved down your throat (perhaps if you asked one of them very nicely…). Climax is all about the inclusivity – and it’s a great way to get straight into the Sheffield gay scene. Music in the main room is by DJ Scott Kelly who plays mostly current chart music. More local talents, such as the lovely Emma Kirk and DJ Peachy Keen, host the second room. In this room you can expect anything from sixties soul to R&B, hip hop, dance classics, and anything else really. Drinks are at standard student prices, and it takes place once a month. Even if you’re not ‘scene’ I seriously recommend you to check this one out.
Another venue that’s very popular is Sheffield staple Dempsey’s Bar and Club. This one might take a bit more getting used to. On the surface you may be put off by its location at bottom of The Moor. It’s not directly close to anywhere else, but it’s still city centre. If you come from a smaller, more residential town, then you will be used to the clubs unique aesthetic, but if you’re from somewhere such as Manchester or London it may come as more of a surprise. Once you get inside though, it’s exactly what you should be used to. DJ John Paul Javal is at the decks most nights and is something of a local celebrity. Music ranges from any chart music you desire to more trancey stuff once everyone’s had a few drinks. The main attraction is a cage in the middle of the dance-floor – complete with stripper pole. Anyone confident enough is welcome to enter the cage whenever they please. Club entry and drinks prices are standard, with the occasional offers on alco-pops. Although it advertises itself as ‘members only’, that’s only to dissuade trouble-makers from coming anywhere near. So long as you are gay, or comfortable around them, then you can get in just fine. Oh, and downstairs plays host to karaoke (occasionally featuring Britain’s Got Talent alumni, Tia Ana), bingo, and games nights.
If you’re in search of a more bar oriented experience, give Affinity a go.
They recently changed venue from the aptly named Campo Lane, and now sit plum at home at the top of Arundel Gate. It’s a modern place, spread over two floors. Regularly hosting DJs and cabaret nights, the venue has also just begun a new night known as Milkshake. This boasts a slightly different vibe to any other gay night in Sheffield, as its main focus is R&B, Dancehall, Dub-step and Electro.
Plug is one of the most respected clubs in the city. Having played host to numerous huge events, DJs and bands, the club also hosts Revolution; a monthly gay night. Describing itself as “a place where all labels are left at the door”, it’s certainly a refreshing change of scenery from the usual (more extravagantly decorated) typical gay clubs. There’s a large dance floor, with a raised stage/balcony section, a long bar, and a huge smoking area. Music is generally more trendy and modern than you’ll find anywhere else on the Sheffield scene – whilst it’s also been known to attract names such as famous London drag-act Jodie Harsh.
Venturing a bit further out, we have Club Xes, which is definitely one for the more hardcore party-goer. The music is more from the trance/euro-dance/happy-hardcore ilk of club entertainment. Perhaps not for everyone, this bar/club doesn’t have a hard time finding an audience.
There are some gay friendly nights in Sheffield that are bandied from venue to venue for a bit of variety. Venues known to host these include Bungalows & Bears, DQ and Penelope’s. Once a year we also have Sheffield Pride which currently takes place in Endcliffe Park in July.
Box Out – On The Gaydar
Keep a lookout for a new bar/club opening on Charter Row, where popular gay nightclub Fuel used to be. No word on exactly what’s popping up yet, but if it’s anything like Fuel was a few years ago, it’s bound to be very popular.
A good source for all things gay and Sheff is www.sheffieldgayscene.co.uk