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As Yorkshire’s commercial capital and one of the fastest growing cities in the UK, Leeds has undergone more of a facelift than Jocelyn Wildenstein. Fortunately the results are more pleasing to the eye. Although still rough around its edges, the centre of Leeds now exudes the cosmopolitan confidence of a city that’s recently experienced something of a cultural renaissance. Amid the grimy grandeur of its Victorian buildings now sit numerous café bars and swish stores such as the only Harvey Nichols outside London.

GLAM AND GRIT

The city’s combination of glam and grit is no more evident than within its gay scene. The gay enclave is clustered around Lower Briggate. Wander across Leeds Bridge (where the first sequence of moving pictures was filmed) and you’ll find the Old Red Lion. This traditional pies ‘n’ peas pub has been around for years...as have most of its punters, which is why the place is known locally as the “Old Dead Lion”. The music’s not so much handbag, as colostomy bag. However, the beer’s a bargain. Try a jar of the local brew: Ayingerbräu; it’s cheap and very effective. Make the Old Red Lion the first place you visit and your night out is guaranteed to only get better.

Head back over the bridge and you’ll find the Bridge Inn. Livelier than the Lion (it would have to be a morgue not to be), the Bridge attracts a mixed, convivial crowd. With a pine surround and a tangerine theme, the Bridge has a warm, cosy feel about it. On the downside, the DJ has a penchant for pap and is likely to annoy you with his blather. Even so, the Bridge gets packed at weekends and (apparently) is a good place to pull. Open till 2am on Saturdays.

On Lower Briggate, Bar Fibre with fairy lights, mirrors and a large courtyard hosts happy hours every day of the week. It's a cafe-bar during the day, but night time sees Fibre transformed into a busy and lively mini club, with late licenses all through the week, including Sundays.
Largin' it at Bar Fibre

UK'S OLDEST GAY PUB

Just around the way in Call Street is the New Penny. Once called the Hope and Anchor, this is claimed to be the oldest gay pub in the UK. Depending on who you ask, the place has been gay for anything from 30 to 50 years. Judging by the age of some of its customers, they should know. The Penny fills up fast on a Saturday night and attracts a regular crowd of all-sorts and all ages. As its only open normal pub hours expect to be chucked out just as things get going.

Off Lower Briggate, tucked away up Blayd’s Yard, is Blayd's Bar. Although a small, unusual sized space, Blayd’s holds heaps of atmosphere. It’s not uncommon for the bar staff to put on a show while pulling your pint and launch themselves into a synchronised dance routine. With a high spirited and unpretentious mix of people, OutUK found Blayd’s to be Leeds’ friendliest and liveliest gay hangout. Suck it and see. Open pub hours.

CLUBBING

After hours, most queens tend to head over to Queens Court in Lower Briggate. Once the popular downstairs café bar closes at 11pm, the club upstairs begins to kick off. Open nightly from 9pm till 2am, Leeds’ only full-time gay club is small, smart and sleek. Although the main floor widens down the back, it can be quite a squeeze to get on down and there’s often not enough room to throw a dirty look at the person who’s just elbowed you in the ribs and kneed you in the balls. Expect the crowd to be wide-eyed and/or legless. On Saturday nights, once the club closes, the downstairs space is re-opened so that people can chat and chill over a coffee.
Leeds clubbing was given a real makeover with the start of Club Federation a few years ago, created by the same people as Fibre. Their popularity led to a highly successful event called the Made in Leeds Festival which takes place in June each Year. It's a full day event from 1pm to 11pm at the Thwaite Mills Water Museum in Leeds. The day is a mixture of Bass Music, Bassline, House, Old Skool and Tech House. More information is available from Fibre or Online from Skiddle.

Thwaite Mills is an industrial museum dating back to the 16th century - its river-side location, extensive forestry and picturesque grounds make for a truly unique and breathtaking backdrop for Leeds most loved dance music festival.


Feelin' the force of Federation
Think secret gardens & forbidden forests as you are taken to the outdoors with open-air stages beneath the trees and big top woodland tents - your imagination will run away in this extraordinary location. Once again stages are curated by Leeds home-grown clubbing brands that have helped shape the city's nightlife, both past & present. Each one brings their own unique style of music and entertainment offering something for all lovers of dance music.

THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK

Bar Fibre (168 Lower Briggate; +44 113 344 9550)
Blayd's Bar (2 Lower Briggate;)
Made in Leeds Festival (Website)
Queens Court Leeds (167-168 Lower Briggate; +44 113 245 9449; Website)
The Bridge Inn (1-5 Bridge End; +44 113 244 4734)
The New Penny (57-59 Call Lane; +44 113 243 8055, facebook)
The Old Red Lion (York Rd; +44 113 443 2833)

Updated December 2018

 

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