This is a conversation I have had with friends dozens of times. Why is all of the music in the gay scene the same? Bland pop and dance from this decade, the one before, and the one before that. Is this a problem confined just to Newcastle, or does it extend to other cities too? This is something I will be asking for you, dear readers, to contact me about later. But for now, I am going to discuss Newcastle.
Newcastle has a perfectly happy and sustained gay scene – reasonable prices, basic cleanliness, little trouble. But I spend very little time there. Why? Because when I decide to go somewhere and spend my money, I want to enjoy what I am listening to. That’s not to say that there isn’t a place for the occasional Pink, Gloria Gaynor or Girls Aloud track, but why are the customers pigeonholed in this way? Is there not room for a rock gay bar, drum and bass, indie, even? Perhaps it all hangs on the tourism factor – travelling into town for the classic queer experience. But what of the locals, the regulars? I know that plenty of those who head to the scene for a night out enjoy the music, enjoy the kitsch aspect. There are many other of we queers however, who don’t bother going (bar perhaps the cursory birthday night out) because we would rather head to establishments that have a varied playlist.
Surely the gay bars are missing a trick? They tend to be populated by teens and the middle-aged. What about we young professionals, we with the disposable incomes? I would gladly go to a gay bar that played a 6 Music-style selection, and prized itself on its range of cocktails rather than its selection of lurid liquids. In fact, I would be a regular.
There are alternative LGBT nights in Newcastle, but, they are few and far between, and often not directly in the gay area (POKE is good fun). It seems to be that if you play into the stereotype, you succeed, but if you strive to be different and appeal to a broader market, you struggle, and your shelf-life is limited. Why can’t there be an every-day POKE? The gay scene has been dominated by
what friends and I have dubbed ‘the gay experience’. On any given night you’ll see students, hen nights, groups of teens, getting their dose of kitsch. It seems that this catering to the ‘experience’ alienates the every-day queer.
It might be asked why there would be a need for such a place, when plenty of bars in Newcastle offer the kind of musical variety I am referring to. But, bars aren’t just for drinking, listening to music and dancing. For a lot of people they’re a way to meet others. How can you meet someone you like in a place you don’t?
Bits of clicking around on the internet tell me little about the case nationwide with music on the gay scene. Is this a situation particular to the toon, or is it that the only way any gay scene sustains itself is through what is essentially the tourist element, at the expense of the local? And have I missed a trick in Newcastle, does this mythical ideal exist and I haven’t seen it? Let me know!
This piece was written by Amy Ekins, writer of fiction and non-fiction alike. She is training as a Project Manager for a publishing company, a graduate of English Literature and Creative Writing, and can be found at www.twitter.com/amyeek – Go on, give her a tweet!