Blayds Bar

Maggie remembers going to the lesbian-friendly Blayds Bar in Leeds in the late 1990s, and how it compared to small-town Cornwall, where she ran a club during the 1980s.

Duration 04:06


MAGGIE: But one of the, the, in terms of like, you know, 'on the scene', we used to go to Blayds Bar, and it was mo- it was a lesbian bar, that was, that's where the lesbians went, and it was, it was just like tucked away down a little alley, and er... You know, I was just, it was just, it was just like a really nice little bar really. I mean... It was, it was kind of say a bit mixed and everything, but I think a lesbian run it, I don't know but it was more that these new, all these new people I was meeting, they were, they were sort of, you know, people I'd met once. The second time I met them and they were in there and it was like, 'oh hello, oh hello', and I was sort of, I was kind of just kind of finding my feet with the whole scene really. And, and whenever I go on [inaudible] I spend my time in Blayds Bar really, that's my favourite place. It's not a lesbian place now particularly, well not particularly, not a lesbian place, it's run by two gay guys who are actually really very nice and all-embracing and um, and I think it's probably the place where lesbians would be the most, are the most comfortable if you know what I mean, you know? But it's kind of quite mixed and they're really quite good with mixed age groups and the mix and the, and I've always found the clientele, the other customers just to be really friendly when I go in there, and it's quite quiet, maybe half a dozen lads, men you know, and maybe older men, and they're kind of, they're really sweet you know, everyone's kind of, everyone, everyone chats and all the rest of it, and they run some really good gigs and, and they're for really, I don't know, I think it's got- it feels like a nice pub, basically, which I think is a kind of quite nice as a pub on the gay scene. But um, yeah, I'd say that's where we need to go, girls! [Laughter]

INTERVIEWER: What year was this again, sorry?

MAGGIE: Um, that was ‘97 when I first came to Leeds, when I visited, and I moved up here at the end of '98, so yeah. But then when I was living with- we didn't really go out quite, we really didn't go out pubbing a lot. But there was, you know, there were parties and get-togethers and y'know, some... Yeah, yeah, moderately sociable.

INTERVIEWER: How did it compare to where you'd lived previously? Was it better or worse in Leeds?

MAGGIE: Oh much, much better. Well, I was living in Cornwall, [laughs] I mean in a small town in Cornwall where um, I'd been running a club and like I was nearly bankrupted when the AIDS scandal, when the, when the AIDS hit, the AIDS scandal. We were scandalised, my brother's gay and I'm a lesbian, and, so it was like, 'oh there's, there's, there's AIDS in the Cabin Club', you know what I mean? So I nearly went bankrupt over that actually. So I mean, um, in terms of tolerance and, and open-armed kind of love and affection of the human race, it wasn't in small towns in Cornwall. Um, and I mean there were sixteen pubs and clubs within walking distance of where I was, where our club was.

And it, it wasn't a gay club, it was just a club. It was, had a club licence. So I mean there were plenty of places to drink but it was one of those kind of, you know, sort of small town um, small town things that happen where, where when the word on the street is, then you just get bad... People would come in, the darts teams would come in with their own glasses, ‘cos like the word is 'you're going to catch AIDS if you drink from their glasses'. And, and so I used to sort of, you know. I'd say, 'I can guarantee my glasses are clean but I can't guarantee yours is so, I'll serve it in my glass, if you want to pour it into your own that's fine, but I know you're not going to get a stomach ache off of mine but you might off your own, you know? Looks a bit grubby, you've been somewhere else with it haven't you?' So I mean… But it was, it was a really bad old time, we lost a lot of, we lost, lost, er, over a particular Christmas, it was like, really, really bad. So, um, coming to Leeds was like, just like a real breath of fresh air. It was just like, I loved it you know? I like, I like the active scene and I certainly did then, I was like in my, I was in my, still in my forties then. So it was kind of quite, I still, you know, still kind of really exciting and fun and, and liberated and right out there you know? But there's so, so yeah.