Manchester’s Gay Village is a wonderfully chaotic place. A street full of gay bars with something for everyone. What’s not to like? There’s only one problem. Deciding on a place to go.
If you aren’t familiar with canal street, you could end up at the wrong place and risk having your night ruined. So save yourself that hassle and read my guide to gay village. I’ll rate the bars based on my personal experience.
G-A-Y is the perfect night out for anyone who fits the very specific clientele! But for anyone who doesn’t, you’re likely to face a rude and judgmental response from the staff. It’s the bar everyone is drawn to, but G-A-Y has a reputation for turning people away. ‘Sorry, members only tonight’ and ‘We don’t accept Irish passports’ are just a couple of excuses used to turn away anyone who isn’t a white gay man. But it isn’t all bad. If you manage to pass the Alcatraz level of security, you’ll see they have a nice smoking area.
The Brewers: 4/5
Formerly known as Kiki’s, this bar is the perfect combination of Y2K and Disco. Brewers has a light-up dance floor, disco balls and mirrors which you’ll spend most of the night admiring yourself in. You will find yourself repeatedly saying ‘one more song before we leave’. The drinks aren’t exactly cheap but the bar staff are friendly.
New York New York: 3/5
A very small, sweaty club and filled with men in leather harnesses. But it’s a hidden gem if you like 80’s music.
I don’t want to be overly critical of the only lesbian bar on canal street. But Vanilla is an apt name. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for the representation. And their drinks menu is extensive. But the overall vibe is quite dull. You wouldn’t stay here for longer than half an hour. To give them credit they do play a lot of Nicki Minaj.
Once you start going to Barpop you can’t stop. I’d avoid it for as long as possible. It’s the place you go to when nowhere else lets you in. Reality alters and as soon as you step through the door, time moves differently. You swear you’ll go somewhere else afterwards but the lights come on and you realise you’ve spent your entire night there. It’s the guiltiest of pleasures.
The friendliest place I’ve encountered on Canal Street. The drinks prices are average and there are guaranteed Whitney songs.
This isn’t a bar, but is an essential visit on every gay village night out. Some of my fondest memories have been formed in this chicken stop. Make sure to grab something to eat from here on your way home.