When Stacey and I first started looking at moving to Edinburgh, we didn’t really know too much about where we’d want to be based. We looked at a few flats which were fairly central – places that were close to the train station and the big shops in the centre of town. However, the prices were high and the flats were pretty small – so we eventually looked at flats in a wider area, before finding one we fell in love with.
(I tried to find some more pictures of our old flat to put in here, but there aren’t any which a) don’t have anyone in them or b) aren’t from a hugely crazy party!)
Our first flat was very Edinburgh – high ceilings with ornate coving, wooden floors and great views. It was also, as we found out quite quickly after moving in, within walking distance of what is known as ‘The Pink Triangle’ – a section of town where a number of gay pubs and bars, as well as lots of gay friendly establishments can be found.
The pink triangle is where we and our friends go if we’re planning a BGNO (a big gay night out). We’re lucky that a number of people we know are either in Edinburgh all the time, or at least have parents who live in or near Edinburgh and so return quite regularly – and we try to plan a BGNO any time someone is returning to Edinburgh. (I guess we’re also lucky that most of our friends are either gay, or gay friendly – but that’s what you get for going to a very liberal, gay friendly university.)
So, if you are planning on visiting Edinburgh and want to know where’s best to head on a gay-friendly night out, here are our favourites!
We almost always invite the girls round for drinks at our flat to start with. This is usually because a few of our friends are still students, and pre-drinking is both cheaper and usual. It also gives us all an opportunity to chat somewhere that it’s not ridiculously loud! As Stacey and I are currently the only ones who live in Edinburgh but not with our parents, our place is often also where people crash if they don’t want to walk home at the end of the night (oh, the benefits of having an en-suite spare room!).
Then, our first stop on a BGNO is usually (and fittingly) Planet Out. Planet is a small gay bar, which has a snooker table, a DJ booth (usually with a decent live DJ on a weekend), a dance floor and cheap drinks. It’s a great place to start the night because it always feels quite safe, the music is a mix of cheesy classics and current chart stuff and the drinks are usually cheap if you’re willing to drink house spirits. I love Planet – it’s usually my favourite part of a night out – but I do acknowledge that the clientèle is usually made up quite largely of older lesbians – which is why it has the nickname of ‘trout’.
Don’t get me wrong, there are nights that have started and ended in Planet because we don’t even bother going anywhere else – why would you, when drinks are cheap and it’s free entry?! However, the next step for a BGNO is usually (and I’m shuddering to write this) CC’s. CC Bloom is a larger gay bar / club which I have only ever been to whilst drunk. It’s a somewhat grimey bar – almost always packed, with a floor which is always sticky and a bit gross. However, the dance floor is bigger and there’s even a stage area – and a downstairs which means there is more space than Planet or Priscilla’s. Drinks aren’t particularly cheap, so we often drink WK style alco-pops, and it usually takes quite some time to get served. Writing all this down is making me wonder why we ever go to CC’s – but again, it has free entry (unless there’s a big event like New Year’s Eve) and most of the time, the people are lovely. There’s a decent mix of guys and girls, and the music is good too! A night will often end in CC’s if we get there and are having fun – but if it’s not great in CC’s, the next stop is GHQ.
GHQ (or Gay Headquarters) is not usually a first choice for a night out because you usually have to pay entry (approx £5 or so…) and drinks are pretty extortionate too. However, the club has two rooms and a smoking area outside, and the two rooms means there’s pop music in one area, and more dance-y stuff in the other room. The other problem with GHQ is that it’s usually filled with either a) just eighteen year olds (or those with fake ID) or b) hen parties. However, if everyone is happy to pay to get in and doesn’t mind expensive drinks, GHQ does often mean a good night!
(I don’t have photos of the inside of GHQ – probably because it’s a basement club and really dark – nothing to do with the level of drunk you have to be to go there!)
Anyway, regardless of whether we go to CC’s or GHQ, a BGNO always, always ends with chips from Picantes. Picantes is a takeaway with its own DJ booth; it does everything from bottles of beer (until 10pm), and cigarettes to the best chips and curry sauce I’ve found in Edinburgh! Usually, Stacey and I go to Picantes on the walk home and then spend the rest of the journey scoffing them – but you can also sit in the cafe area.
If you are in Edinburgh and fancy a night out, we can also recommend The Street (for cocktails and a great gin and tonic), Priscilla’s (for a brilliant drag show and karaoke) and Elbow (for great food and a chilled out atmosphere). However, if you want any advice on where to go in Edinburgh, get in touch – we love this city, and will help any way we can!