West Yorkshire (Incl. Leeds)
Where? The City of Leeds, West Yorkshire
Geography? North, UK
How to get around? There is a good transport system in operation in Leeds. The main train station is situated in the centre of town; a stone throw away from the main shopping street. If you’re coming in from a neighbourhood a bit further out this is probably you’re best avenue in. The most effective way to get around once in the centre is buses. Depending on where you’re coming from most buses start/end at the coach/bus station (next door to Leeds Market) or the train station. There is also a free city bus service that does a convenient loop round the centre that can be caught from the train station as well. After eleven the only bus that continues running is the 95, which starts at the train station, and continues through town and up towards Hyde Park and Headingly, finishing off at Bodington student Halls. Apart from that, mini cabs and taxi’s shared with friends are probably the cheapest and safest option.
Bars & Clubs, Shops & Services? Despite having a relatively small city centre comparative with its size, Leeds has a rather large, vibrant and active gay scene. Despite not providing any strictly woman only clubs or bars, there are a number of options available. A good starting point is probably Queens Court, perfectly named it is a pretty courtyard, that links onto a bar, and it’s next-door neighbour club Fibre. Both have a good mixed atmosphere, and there are as many girls as there are guys on most nights. Look out for the Bank Holiday Courtyard Parties put on; they pull a massive crowd a promise a good night.
Perhaps the most popular gay night in Leeds is a Monday, when well-established Leeds venue Mission opens it doors to gay girls and boys alike. Another, fairly new night, is the trendy Back Door Disco, again hosted by Mission but every other Saturday. Maybe swinging more to a 60/40 ratio of boys and girls it is still a good night out and often provides the cream of the crop of Leeds younger gay scene. The only night solely aimed at a lesbian/female crowd is Suck my Left One. Formerly hosted by The Commonplace, the night has now moved venues to the wonderfully dingy little underground venue Subculture and appears one Saturday in every month. Playing a variety of electro/indie and less mainstream choices, it’s a nice break from the blaring sounds of cheese ringing in your ears from a Monday night at Mission. Also in a similar vein is Ice Cream hosted by Leeds’ famous music venue The Cockpit. Although no longer a regular night, Ice Cream often pops up for one-nighters around the holidays. There are many other bars dotted around, mainly all in the same area of Lower Briggate, which is the bottom end of the main shopping street. Although all mixed, many of the pubs and bars have a friendly atmosphere and reasonable prices, often with drinks deals to encourage the pre-drinkers before a Monday spent at Mission.
The Leeds lesbian scene perhaps suffers a little more when it comes to shops and services. Of course all the Universities in the area have active and committed LGBT society that are always worth getting involved with. For the non-student population there is the Leeds Lesbian, Gay and Bi-sexual Switchboard (Tel: 0113 245 3588), or if you’re between 13-25 there is the Out 2 25 group (Tel: 0113 2144674), a friendly and professional body of youth workers happy to provide one to one confidential assistance and information. Group meets on Tuesday & Thursdays at a city centre location between 5.45 and 7.45pm.
Arts & Culture? Leeds offers a range of artistic spaces, the most prominent being the famous West Yorkshire Playhouse (http://www.wyp.org.uk/index.asp), situated opposite the Leeds Bus/Coach Station. The multi award-winning theatre puts on a variety of productions every month. Listings and book enquires can be found on the website or by calling Tel: 0113 213 7700. The Leeds Art Gallery (http://www.leeds.gov.uk/artgallery/) is also renowned for it’s exhibitions and collections. Free to the public, the Gallery has a long-standing history of interesting and thought provoking exhibitions, with events scheduled on a regular basis. Leeds also offers the famous and historic Kirkstall Abbey, a little way out of the city centre in the middle of Kirkstall itself (http://www.leeds.gov.uk/kirkstallAbbey/). Proudly one of the most complete examples of a medieval Cistercian abbey in Britain it is free to enter and a wonderful way to spend a sunny afternoon. Another interesting space is the Commonplace (http://www.thecommonplace.org.uk/), a radical social centre in the middle of town. Entirely fuelled by public donations and volunteers it is a social space for relaxing and meeting people and the evening turns into a homemade gig venue. One last avenue of culture not to be overlooked in Leeds is it’s array of independent cinemas, one being the Hyde Park Picture House (http://www.hydeparkpicturehouse.co.uk/). Situated in the student area of Hyde Park this independent film house always produces a selection of cutting edge film, from both English and foreign directors. The Picturehouse also holds a number of events each month, check website for details.