Suitably enhanced, stretch your legs around a couple of short corners to the Custom
House which is rather popular with both boys and girls all-week round - notably for
cheesy Slosh on a Wednesday - and acts as a perfect pre-club pad.
Then wend it to Parliament, the oldest gay venue in Belfast and still cramming them
in. Newly made-over, the split-level bar serves food throughout the day and the night
attracts a mixed crowd of all ages, not least a fair smattering of women - probably
the friendliest, earthiest joint around. The large upstairs club space heaves opens
on a weekend, pumping mainstream to the masses.
Parliament now has to fight off a strong new challenge from soviet-chic Kremlin
style bar back on Donegall Street beyond John Hewitt. You enter beneath a huge
statue of Lenin into the Long Bar where drag acts often hold court. At weekends you
can progress through to the club room and the new Red Square annex, playing pop
and house to the true trend-setters. Watch out for the occasional foam party
if you don't mind getting wet.
But the real hardcore crowd make it to Milk for Forbidden Fruit on a Monday, a
large club in an expansive, lofty industrial conversion space. Once past the door
whores offering sweets and more, mill and move 'til dawn with Belfast's finest -
notably the student crowd.
Speaking of which - and if you like it outdoors - the bohemian college quarters
around Queen's University and the leafy Botanic Gardens just south of centre is a
veritable daytime cutefest which transforms into a nocturnal frenzy, especially
amidst the dim-lit cul-de-sacs around Agincourt Avenue.
GETTING & STAYING THERE
British European, BMI and Easyjet fly to Belfast and you can check out a range of cheap fares and book online
Belfast now has a gay B&B Universe House or you can check out special prices
at gay friendly hotels with Bookings.
It's worth noting that the Age of Consent for all sexual persuasions in Northern
Ireland is set at 17 and that equality on grounds of sexuality is enshrined in the
1999 Northern Ireland Act - so know your rights but use your head. Furthermore,
whatever problems befall other UK Prides, Belfast is proud to report that it's
much supported and valued annual march and celebration is now in its 13th year
(26th July - 3rd August 2003) and stronger than ever.
Belfast's New Gay Swimming Group
THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK
Belfast Pride (Website)
Belfast Scene (Map)
Custom House (Skipper Street)
John Hewitt Bar (27 Donegall Street T: 028 9023 3768)
Kremlin (96 Donegall Street T: 028 9080 9700)
Milk (Tomb Street; T: 028 9027 8876)
Parliament (2 Dunbar Street T: 028 9023 4520)
Universe House (T: 028 9029 8804)