Out UK’s Adrian Gillan meets the likely lads of Liverpool - recently crowned European City of Culture 2008 - where the scene has undergone a major resurgence in recent months.

Manchester and Blackpool may have stolen some of Liverpool’s gay thunder but there are several new venues around Dale and Victoria Streets - just north of the ‘Cavern Quarter’ where the Beatles started out - and scarce shortage of sexy scally scousers bulging in their trousers to fill the fresh space!

The hunks of tv series Hollyoaks set in nearby Chester. A little tenuous we know, but any excuse for cute lads.
The oldest gay bar in town, Paco’s, wears its age well on Stanley Street, the heart of the queer quarter. Clubby if quiet below ground, light and airy above and friendly all over, it’s an ideal place to steady your hand and chart a queer course. Then pop round the corner to the Lisbon Bar, a spacious, traditionally decorated basement pub, supposedly mixed but certainly rather gay whenever we dropped by – lots of ladies too, though gay boys and babes do seem to mix it well around here generally.
Or dock at new boy The Navy Bar which set sail last November (2003), bobbing stylishly between Paco’s and Lisbon with its Tuesday talent nights and Sunday cheapie booze. This faces yet another new recruit on the street corner over the way: Superstar Boudouir opened last July (2003), and its fab sound system and screens have been luring style babes down to its plush basement lair ever since.
Liverpool at night from the Mersey.
Step down into earthy stalwart Masquerade Bar just around the block on Cumberland Street to set your pulse apace. Routinely packed with gay youth whirling themselves around the floor, surrendering to the dragged-up hosts who keep the party pumping, coaxing sweet karaoke from the most blushing babe.

A short walk back past Stanley Street up a back passage, The Curzon is probably the most male-dominated gay venue in town, a right gentleman’s club complete with porno screens and a large bar open throughout the day at ground level. It’s recently had a refit to keep up with the pack, and is even looking quite trendy, rammed to the rafters at weekends. Visit G-Bar just up over Dale Street for the posing style set and pouting student crowd, open from 10pm and partying right through ‘til breakfast at weekends - with a busy dancy mass upstairs and a trancy door-fee’d basement beneath.

The biggest club in town and just across from G-Bar, Garlands has had a rough old life. Burnt down in summer 2002; temporarily rehoused at the nearby historic and glamorous State venue where many feel it turned straight; and then rising from the very ashes of its old home last November (2003) with the same basic retro design as the old venue albeit with more toilets! Officially gay-straight mixed, it’s newly launched a Friday retro night and top DJs ensure it still attracts its usual Saturday hoards for hard dance, funky house, disco and trash. But is it quite so gay as of yore? Or do gays now how far more venues to choose from than even eighteen months ago?

Not quite lost your horn? You could do worse than take a taxi ride to the Dolphin Sauna, a hotbed of steam and passion secreted above a parade of unsuspecting shops, attracting all ages; or, much nearer, stroll down the narrow lane behind the bars on Stanley Street; or, in summer, try the infamous Otterspool Car Parks, notably the bushes behind the large parking bays just south of the docks.

But if it’s your mind you need stimulate, News From Nowhere is a vast and rambling gay-run bookshop: an oasis of gay books, mags and vids, side by side with everything from Outer Mongolian poetry to militant Marxist rantings - plenty to idle away a rainy afternoon.

Liverpool still sadly suffers from a dearth of gay accommodation, although - near the spectacular modern RC Cathedral, fifteen minutes walk to the scene - The Feathers Hotel markets itself as gay-friendly and you can check out details of the rooms and book this hotel and others online at special rates through our hotel partners Bookings.

The Curzon (Temple Lane, off Victoria Street; T: 0151 236 5160)
Dolphin Sauna (129 Mount Road, Wallasey; T: 0151 630 1516)
Garlands (8-10 Eberle St., off Dale Street; T: 0151 236 3307)
G-Bar (Eberle St., off Dale Street; T: 0151 258 1230)
Lisbon Bar (Corner of Stanley and Victoria Street; T: 0151 231 6831)
Masquerade Bar (10 Cumberland St., off Dale Street; T: 0151 236 7786)
The Navy Bar (Stanley Street; no phone)
News From Nowhere (96 Bold Street; T: 0151 708 7270)
Paco’s (25 Stanley Street; T: T: 0151 236 9737)
Superstar Boudouir (20-24 Stanley Street; T: 07904 51 21 79)

Revised June 2015.


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