Inside Liverpool’s Alternative Gay Night

Heading to Liverpool Pride? Pick up your copy of HISKIND at the club night everyone is talking about: Sonic Yootha.

Liverpool’s first alternative gay night has claimed a spot on the city’s list of top nights out and a must visit for any LGBT+ person visiting the city.

The monthly alternative gay night delivers new wave, old rave, techno, electro, pop and soul social to its growing fanbase. The night that reinvigorated Liverpool’s LGBT+ offering, inclusive for the biggest crowd. Glamorous, camp, kitsch and cool. The night’s name refers to actress Yootha Joyce, an actress whose hay day in the 70s saw her playing characters who were frustrated with life, but faced it all with a good deal of humour, sassiness and spirit.

Ahead of their Liverpool Pride event, we catch up with Ian Usher to talk all things Yootha.

How did Yootha begin?

We really just wanted somewhere to go out. As gay kids growing up in a more prohibitive time we all had a deep understanding of how important it is to have a meeting place where you could just be with people like you, regardless of how they chose to define themselves, dancing and laughing to music you love. You’d think you’d grow out of it, turns out we hadn’t and neither had an awful lot of other people so we thought we would do something about it.

Why did you decide to host Yootha outside of the gay quarter?

The type of night that you find in gay venues across the UK tend to follow a certain style, which is perfect for them, but because we wanted to try something a lot more eclectic, especially with the music and visuals, we needed to find somewhere which was different and neutral so people had no preconceptions. It also meant there was a bigger chance that we wouldn’t have to compromise our ideas too much which was important. That said it wasn’t a carefully planned campaign but the success we have had since hopefully shows others that gay events don’t have to be confined to one style or area. You can go anywhere, you can do anything. Gay liberation 2.0.

Why do you think gay nights are expanding into heteronormative spaces?

Why not? The world has changed and the definition of a club is not as rigid now as it was maybe even ten years ago. You’re currently seeing venues that are neutral spaces which host a different event every night of the week who are open to new ideas and the opportunities are there for those with the imagination, wit and gumption to see them through. It’s a symptom of a change in the world, a great leap forward in understanding on both sides and because of this, the potential for new ideas and directions is very exciting especially now the world has gone mad.

“To the wider world we remain invisible but to a select few we are a crazy big sister who lets them into her room once a month to dress up, drink and play records nice and loud.”

What’s your best memory so far?

Janice Long beaming like the sun whilst dancing to the smiths, the guy who danced the night away with a life sized pink flamingo, the first time Tracy Wilder dropped Mighty Real by Sylvester and the place went bananas, Sandie Shaw’s daughter dancing to her mum’s music, watching a group of strangers suddenly develop into a new scene right in front of you, Miss Shona and her selfie with Jeremy Corbyn holding a Sonic Yootha badge, people making their own clothes just to wear on the night. That’s just the stuff we can talk about.

What do you have planned for the future of Yootha?

We are definitely looking at a few more guest DJ’s to swing by and show us what they’ve got. We recently had Philip Bakstad from Rebel Rebel who went down a storm and we are talking with a couple of others about dates later in the year. We love a bit of strange at Yootha. We have been discussing where things should go next and there are ideas in the pipeline including a night at Dalston Superstore. World domination is inevitable, however, but don’t worry, it’ll be fun and you’re all invited.

Monthly at 24 Kitchen Street. Saturday 29th July from 9pm.

Not in Liverpool? Catch Sonic Yootha in London at Dalston Superstore on 19th August.

Photography: Lee Williams