Irish podcaster launches new series exploring history of LGBTQ+ nightlife

Irish podcaster launches new series exploring history of LGBTQ+ nightlife

AN Irish podcaster has launched a new series which examines the history of LGBTQ+ venues across Britain and Ireland.

In Memories From The Dancefloor, Derry-born journalist Damian Kerlin celebrates the spaces where members of the LGBTQ+ community came together to socialise over the years, with the intention of “shining a light on the history of these incredible spaces, taking us under the rope and into the queer chaos, joy and community within them”.

Throughout the three-part series, which is available to listen to now, Kerlin also explores the political undercurrents that have framed those experiences, examining the “pertinent narrative threads of the scenes – be it the AIDS epidemic, trans inclusion, political undertows, or the music which got people on their feet”.

Throughout the series the host meets the "founders, party boys, dykes, and drag queens who lived and loved in these spaces – spaces that, today, remain under threat”, he confirms.

Damian Kerlin hosts the three-part series Memories From The Dancefloor

Kerlin admits his own experience as a member of the LGBTQ+  community growing up in Northern Ireland has partly inspired his desire to explore the now fading social scene more generally.

In the past decade alone, over 60 percent of London's LGBTQ+ spaces have closed, Kerlin claims, meaning “the stories, secrets, and snippets of gossip that live within their walls are in peril of being lost forever”.

"Growing up in Northern Ireland, there were not many LGBTQ+ venues, Derry only had one, which was on the fringes of town, you had to go looking for it,” he said of his own experience.

“That was my experience of growing up gay - nobody seemed to mind as long as it was out of sight,” he adds.

"We are more than who we are attracted to,” he explained.

“Our culture, art, and existence are built on reliance on each other and our community. I wanted to celebrate that, and where better place to start than our iconic queer spaces.”

Kerlin further admits that his own “first experience of queer joy and protest” was at Belfast Pride at age 13.

"I remember visiting my aunt in the city and walking onto Castle Street, to be engulfed in gay culture and colour," he says.

"Then there was Pepes, the singular LGBTQ+ venue in Derry, that's now shut.

“So, I'd try my luck there at 16 – slip past the bouncers and see this huge celebration of people, different generations of the LGBTQ+ community like I'd never imagined. It made me – like so many others – who I am."

Memories From The Dancefloor is available now

Earlier this year, Memories From The Dancefloor was chosen as a winner of Acast Amplifier, an incubator programme founded to discover, establish and promote new podcast ideas.

Memories From The Dancefloor is available to listen to now, wherever you get your podcasts — including Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts