|Mark's List Gay and Lesbian Travel||
|It’s Belfast, Bitch!|
|by Paul Rubio|
this rising gay-friendly European gem to your spring/summer European
After decades of unrest and instability, Northern
Ireland’s capital city of Belfast is rapidly distancing itself from
a troubled past. Since the diplomatic peace process began at the
dawn of the millennium, Belfast’s rehab and redux has progressed at
lightning speed, emerging as one of the must-see cities in Europe
circa 2010, robust with personality and void of the pretension found
in other European cities.
One of the oldest parts of the city, The Cathedral Quarter, stands at the heart of the Extreme Makeover (Homo Edition). The area accommodates much of Belfast’s small but growing gay scene and has become known as Belfast’s gayborhood. During the height of the city’s political unrest in the 1970s, the gays were once the only locals desperate enough for some nightlife to dare tread the cobbled streets of the area! Nowadays, the only “troubles” you’ll experience are choosing which boutique hotel to stay at, which restaurant to eat at, or which bar to be seen at. If it’s the scene you’re looking for, then it’s all about the Kremlin, where resident DJ Jamesy is as renowned for mixing the hottest dance floor fillers, as he is for closing his set with a live Madonna moment – something to be experienced on a packed, sweaty dance floor at 3am. If you’d rather see than be seen and soak up some real Belfast atmosphere (and pints of Guinness) head to one of the city’s many world-class pubs. Even better, combine the pub with a history (with a silent “h”) lesson on a Belfast Pub Tour (belfastpubtours.com) –one of the best ways to explore the city and the only way to learn about Belfast’s alternative history.
And it’s Belfast’s history that has recently secured
billions (yes billions) of dollars to develop the “Titanic Quarter.”
The historical ship, RMS Titanic, made famous to Generation X by the
former wet dream, Leonardo Di Caprio, was constructed in Belfast. By
2012 the city will unleash The Titanic Quarter in the ship’s
birthplace, replete with cheesy tourist experiences and bonafide
course no trip to Northern Ireland is complete without leaving the
city and getting into the groove of the countryside. The Antrim
Coast Road boasts breathtaking landscapes, with glacial valleys,
cliff faces, sandy beaches, waterfalls, and the picturesque villages
of the Glens of Antrim. A few hours up the Causeway Coast resides
the living fairytale of Giant’s Causeway - the UNESCO World Heritage
Site that should be on every globetrotters’ bucket list. Legend has
it an Irish giant built Giant’s Causeway – 40,000 perfect hexagonal
columns of basalt, spanning across the ocean all the way to Scotland
– and that the 60 million year old “causeway” was the giant’s
ambitious attempt to reach his Scottish rival and fight him. More
likely the basalt bonanza stemmed from a volcanic eruption. Yet
neither science nor folklore can completely explain the visual
phenomenon that must be seen to believe!
Bars in Belfast
Kremlin - This Belfast size queen continuously adds extra girth to its already well-endowed package, regularly transforming its sexy Soviet interior on a daily basis for different themed nights, whether creating a fairground for the “Kremlin State Fair,” The Emerald City for “Wizard of Oz” night, or replicating UK uber-club Heaven. kremlin-belfast.com, 96 Donegall Street, Belfast.
DuBarry’s - Named after the
long-gone original Belfast den of iniquity (and once home to the
city’s sailors and sluts even welcoming the city’s gays in to its
backroom), DuBarry’s is living proof that such debauchery still
exists in Belfast today. OK, some of its barflies might look like
they frequented the original bar in the early 1900s, but if you like
rubbing shoulders, or other bodily parts with some seasoned Irish
gents, then DuBarry’s will be right up your alley!
dubarrysbar.co.uk, 10 Gresham Street, Belfast.
Gay Friendly Belfast
Spaniard - Everything about the Spaniard screams strange
and surreal- from drag queens cozying up to businessmen on their way
home from work, to the mix of Dali’s surrealist art hung next to a
collection of some of the most obscure pop single covers ever made.
No two trips to the Spaniard are ever the same – you’re as likely to
end up playing a game of darts while drinking Czech beer with a
group of Czech guys, as you are dancing upstairs to an obscure song
from the 80s spilling mojitos on a local celebrity. thespaniard.com
The Apartment – With its views over
Belfast’s City Hall, this is the perfect venue for a much-needed
cocktail after a day ‘s shopping or sightseeing. It is also the
perfect spot for pre-club people watching. apartmentbelfast.com
Muriel’s - The straight girls often out-number the gay boys, but this is the most popular pre-Kremlin watering hole. Opened in the former hat store/brothel of famous Belfast milliner cum madame Muriel, there are constant nods and winks to the location’s former double life, with old hats lining the walls and ceilings strung with washing lines full-to-bursting with Muriel’s girls’ frilly knickers. The coolest and friendly bar staff serve up the most original drinks in the city, including a monthly house cocktail that comes served in a jam jar. 12-14 Church Lane, Town Centre.
Portions of this article were provided by local Belfast resident, Peter Magennis.