It’s not just orange cheese and Gary Lineker you know! Leicester is a compact
cosmopolitan city in the heart of England: a great gay away-day break from your
local scene writes OutUK's Adrian Gillan as he lifts the
lid on those lush local Leicester lads.
You barely have to stretch your legs to find your strength at small ambient stylish
café-bar Bossa, scarce a spit and a spunk from the train station. Thaw and nestle
snug by candlelight with Leicester’s finest Midland maties in winter, or sprawl
out onto Granby Street in the sweltering heat - gorging on a fine menu of interesting,
healthy and inexpensive tasties.
Once settled, just stroll fifty meters round the corner to the flamboyant ‘Dolly’
Dover Castle, reputed - by locals at least - to be the oldest gay pub in the kingdom.
Revamped more times than any can recall, it was once frequented by gay drama queens
Joe Orton & Kenneth Halliwell when Joe lived in Leicester. Rumour has it that Reggie Kray
visited the place once in the 60s too.
The Dolly Dover Castle
The ‘Dolly’ is a
real community hub, serving up good food by day and cabaret and dance by night to a
friendly crowd of both sexes and all ages.
By now fully steeped in the local gay lore, it’s time to up the style stakes and
that means a short ten minute stroll uptown to the main gay epicentre around
Belgrave Gate. Make the nightclub Venom your first port of call.
It's built on the site of the previous Quebec bar after a substantial investment.
Built on the site of the house of John Merrick - the famed ‘Elephant Man’ of Victorian
times - Streetlife has been attracting its own unique exotic blend of queer life forms
ever since. As the town’s only full-time gay club, it is packed to the rafters every
night - even higher at weekends, especially with cheap entry on a Friday. It has a
large sprawling bar area where locals dance to cheese and a spacious main hall
overlooked by another lofty hanging bar – offering yet more cheese. The toilets are
busy as are the numerous old, dimly lit, industrial red-bricked alleys outside nearby.
Many who leave alone wend their ways to the neighbouring Abbey Park. You cross a small bridge and drop down onto the towpath
by the Grand Union Canal just inside the park. If it’s wet and muddy, you’ve a choice
of two decent saunas, again not that far away. Celts - formerly known as Eros - sounds particularly popular by all accounts,
but Sauna 31 seems to hold its own. Leicester also boasts a LGB Centre back by the
station, but this café-bar and info centre appears to have somewhat sporadic hours
at present, so best to call first.
Leicester is little more than an hour away from London St Pancras by
THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK
Bossa (110 Granby Street; T: 0116 233 4544)
‘Dolly’ Dover Castle (34 Dover Street; T: 0116 222 8826)
Venom (94-96 Belgrave Gate; T: 0116 251 7986)
Streetlife (24 Dryden Street off Lee Circle; T: 0116 251 0785)
Celts (38 Narborough Road, LE3; T: 0116 285 6000)
Sauna 31 (31 New Bond Street; T: 0116 251 6710)
LGB Centre (15 Wellington Street; T: 0116 254 7412)
Revised February 2015.