LGBTQ+ / Music / History
"Over the years, I enjoyed many sweaty nights (and sometimes early mornings) at gay bars across the country."
Memories from The Dancefloor
LGBT+ History Month UK
February 7, 2022
Memories From The Dancefloor is available to listen to now, wherever you get your podcasts — including Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts. The New Current spoke with Damien about his inspiration behind the series and what who hopes to get out of sharing these incredible stories.
Hi Damian, many thanks for talking to The New Current, how have you been keeping?
I am very well, thank you. The last week just seems to have gone by in a blur. A very lovely blue may I add!
Big congratulations are in order with the launch of your stunning podcast Memories from The Dancefloor, how does it feel to have it out there?
You know what, it is such a relief! The team and I have been working on it for such a long time now, we are just happy to see it out there and the reviews so far have been more than we could have ever imagined, so yeah, it’s a great feeling!
And have there been nerves?
Of course, I think you would have to be mad not to feel any nerves. When you put something out there for the world to hear, you open yourself up to all kinds of commentary. But would we have it any other way? Absolutely, not!
What did it mean to you to win the Acast Amplifier and what do you think this will do, not only for your new podcast, but for other new original podcast ideas?
Firstly, it gives you that confidence boost, to have a platform as big as Acast believe there is something in your idea, that will capture the listeners attention and cut through, what is currently, a very busy market. It also gives you a voice, in a space that if you aren’t already followed by 100,000 people or a celebrity have little avenue into.
Acast took a big chance and I believe out of the three of us chosen it has only furthered the industry for the better. Representation and diverse perspectives is key, otherwise it all gets very same-y and where is the fun in that?
Where did the inspiration for Memories from The Dance Floor come from?
I am a party boy. I love clubbing. Always have, always will. But when I looked into the history of queer nightlife it was all so academic focused, which 1) was written by someone who clearly did not go clubbing, 2) was in accessible and 3) it did not include the voices of our community. Where was the authenticity, the fun, the gossip? All the things that make it, IT! I wanted to do something about it, which is where Memories from the Dancefloor came from. It is the stories colourfully told by the communities behind those closed doors and the memories which will last a lifetime!
It’s funny, ever since I got your email all I can think about now is the first gay bars I went into growing up, getting the knock most weeks, but once in it was heaven. Has it been fun for you going down memory lane?
It has been amazing! The music, the kink, the absolute scenes. It has been carnage, but it has been more than that. Yes, we know how to throw a party, but we are so much more than we give ourselves credit for. Those spaces harnessed rebellion, activism and spirit. They have been the driving force for much of our freedoms today, the demise of Section 28, equal marriage and now the ban on conversion therapy. They shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Once you knew what the subject for your podcast was going to be how did you go about sourcing your interviews?
Once I decided on the three primary venues, Heaven, The Black Cap and Nightingales, I looked to the beginning. Who opened these spaces, who are running them now. Then I looked at who frequented them, the DJ’s, the drag queens, any iconic punters, and I built it from there.
In our structure I allowed flexibility. I wanted their story, but I didn’t know what these people were going to say. For instance, we delve into racism on the podcast, and once I started doing some digging, I knew I had to speak to Marc Thompson the founder of Black Gay Back in the Day. His story was essential in ensuring balance in the narrative and that voices and perspectives where heard. This podcast is about being open and sharing experiences in a safe space. I refused to limit that as I wanted to hear them out, and it was incredible!
What was it like sitting down with Jeremy Norman and Amy Lame?
Jeremy Norman is such a character. His can-do attitude is something we could all do with a sprinkle of. His determination and perseverance to get Heaven off the ground was insane. And the stories he had to share, well, listen to the podcast and you will find out.
And as for Amy Lame, well what a true ICON! A real trailblazer for our community. We are so lucky to have her as Night Czar and where possible we should support her whole heartedly.
Another interview you have is with Jeremy Atherton, who is riding a wave of great reviews for Gay Bar. In his book he’s exploring the changing nature of LGBTQ+ spaces and with technology gay spaces have become less and less “needed” for newer generations. Do you think that Memories from The Dancefloor will be an important moment for the community to be reflective about these places and what we might be losing? SORRY THAT’S A MOUTHFUL OF A QUESTION!
Absolutely! I look back on my first time at Pepes, my first gay bar experience, as a turning point in my coming to terms with my sexuality. Over the years, I enjoyed many sweaty nights (and sometimes early mornings) at gay bars across the country. It’s where I felt safe enough to experiment with sexual practices and substances and learned a lot about myself in the process.
More importantly, it is a place where I met fabulous friends and luscious lovers. It’s where I created lasting connections; a boyfriend that has stuck around for 12 years. I know first-hand the importance of the relationships formed through these shared experiences in a dedicated gay space.
Some believe it's a simple supply and demand equation. The theory goes that society is becoming better integrated, meaning gay people feel more open to visiting "straight bars", lessening the demand for gay-only or predominantly gay venues.
I wholeheartedly disagree.
There’s an important distinction between being accepted by the mainstream and blending into the mainstream. The goal is to have a strong sense of identity that is universally respected and celebrated, not for it to melt into the mainstream
What have been the most surprising thing you have discovered about LGBTQ+ nightlife history after finishing your podcast?
The discrimination and internalised homophobia, which unfortunately is still rife today as we currently see with the body shaming Sam Smith is facing on the video for their latest single.
We talk about racism and misogyny throughout in conversation with both Mark and Amy, who I am so grateful for sharing their story. It can’t have been easy!
And what would you say have been the most rewarding aspect for you being able to create this new series?
Just to give a voice to the community. We can often hone in on our collective trauma that we forget to celebrate our culture and that is what I want people to come away from having listened to Memories from the Dancefloor, the celebration!
Do you have a favourite LGBTQ+ bar?
Come on, that is like asking me to choose my favourite child HAHA it depends on what I’m after. If it is a boozer then I adore Brighton, but if I want to party for me, Canal Street is simply where it is at. It has it all!
Do you have any advice, tips or suggestions you would offer anyone wanting to get into podcasting?
Nail your idea and don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to people. Drop them an email or slide into their DM’s. You will be surprised by who is willing to help if you just ask.
And finally, what do you want your audiences to take away from Memories from The Dance Floor?
To the LGBTQ+ community know you are loved, and our culture is to be celebrated. To everyone else, embrace us, we are not going anywhere and whatever art you like or music you listen to I can promise you this, we did it first HAHA!