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Why the stars flock to gay nightclub The Edge in St Mary's
IT is the unassuming Southampton nightspot that has welcomed an extraordinary succession of celebrities.
Little Britain star Matt Lucas, TV personality Brian Conley, Strictly Come Dancing’s Craig Revel Horwood, panto star Paul O’Grady, ventriloquist Paul Zerdin and comedian Julian Clary are just some of the famous patrons to have crossed the threshold.
But while its A List clientele may conjure up images of a swanky waterside lounge club, the celebs’ favourite haunt is actually gay club The Edge in the heart of St Mary’s.
Despite its modest appearances, the nightclub has been the beating heart of the gay community in Southampton for 18years and regularly attracts revellers to the city from as far as London and Reading.
Now the nightclub is celebrating after being recognised in the south’s most prestigious gay entertainment awards.
The Edge beat competition from across the south to win Brighton’s favourite out of town venue in the city’s 2013 Golden Handbag Awards, known as Brighton’s gay Oscars.
Managers James Dickason and Nick Lindner with the staff. Picture courtesy of Liam Doherty.
Nick Lindner, operations manager, said: “I was over the moon. It’s such an amazing achievement. The accolade is a huge bonus.
“Over the years we have built up a reputation, it’s so established that gay people just know to come here.”
Its reputation is hardly surprising given the club has been owned by the same couple for 18 years.
Jules Cranfield and Margaret Allen first bought the premises and ran it as a pub before starting a girls only night and transforming it into The Edge nightclub. A major refurbishment in 2007 transformed the venue into what it is today.
The Edge, which is open six days a week until 5am, has become a popular place for the stars.
Nick, who has worked at the club for 12 years, explained: “History repeats itself and people who have been before andhada goodtime, comeback– that’s why we get a lot of the stars and dancers from shows and musicals visiting the Mayflower Theatre.
“I’m not a celeb hunter because over the years they have been so lovely, I just see them as them. However, there are plenty of our customers who love seeing them and I don’t blame them.”
However despite the impressive list of stars, Nick explainedthe club’s ethosistocaterfor everyone.
“Freshers are coming in at the moment and we’re here for them just as much as we’re here for the celebs,” Nick said.
“We know we have to attract everyone from 18 to 80, male and female and everyone in between, transgender, gay, lesbian, bi, straight, student, high flyers who want to spend £70 on a bottle of champagne, people who want to spend £1 on a shot, people who like house music, pop music, karaoke. We try our very best to cover all of that.
“It’s not easy but being the only late night gay venue, we have to do all we can because we’ve got the role and responsibility of being the focal point for the gay community.”
In fact, the 450-capacity venue refers to clients as family so it’s no surprise it takes its responsibilities so seriously. It hosts fundraising events for Breakout Youth, a charity which supports young people in Hampshire aged 11 to 25 who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender or unsure of their gender or sexual identity.
The club also has a float at the Brighton Pride parade each year.
Lesbian and Gay Liason Officers from Hampshire Police with The Edge float at Brighton Pride.
It works regularly with Lesbian and Gay Liaison Officers from Hampshire Police, the Gay Community Health Service and outreach service Safe and Sound, who regularly run stalls at the club, so people can get sexual health advice and support. The club also gives out free condoms to encourage safe sex.
Nick explained: “It is so important. If we can do our bit, we will always be here to provide that safe environment, that’s part of what we do. Potentially people may not have that support at home, at uni or college or in their workplace. And whether it’s their first night here or their 1,000th we try to make sure everyone feels welcome and has a good time.
“It’s for that reason, everyone has a special place in their heart for The Edge and the award confirms that.”
Butwill its latest accolade and status among the celebs mean Southampton could become the south’s next gay capital?
Nick isn’t so sure.
He said: “The last three years in the Golden Handbag Awards Southampton has won Brighton’s favourite out of town venue.
We have won it two years and the London Hotel in Oxford Street won it last year. That’s a huge achievement for the city.
“I could say in ten years there may be ten gay clubs and thousands of people descending on Southampton for its gay scene but I think actually that won’t happen. We are moving away from that because it’s just not necessary.
“I think what we are looking for is more openness across the board so that actually you can go to other venues where you can kiss or hold hands. It’s 2013 now and not the 90s and there is a place for gay people in society.
“As long as we are still here then we will continue to do what we do and I hope we do it right and everyone keeps supporting us.”
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