Let’s face it, summer thus far has been a bit of a wash out if you’re of the partying persuasion. Unless you have enough cash to hop on a Sleazyjet flight from JLA and live it up on the White Isle, the alternative is dashing from bar to bar, avoiding puddles and gleefully watching the gale force winds blow the carefully bouffanted ‘dos of wannabe wags awry.

You have to take your kicks where you can get them.

However the weekend just passed brought a splash of colour into the city with the advent of the second Liverpool Pride festival. After their successful launch last year they returned with a bigger offering, this time including fringe festivals in the unofficial “gay quarter” of the city centre (the narrow streets burrowing between Victoria and Dale Street) and live stages and pop-up stalls aplenty at the Pier Head.

After checking the weather forecast – light showers – I headed down to Stanley Street armed with a golf umbrella and my most sensible footwear (leopard print gladiator sandals).

Having been awarded special permission to allow for the consumption of alcohol in the street and block the road off to traffic, the normally quiet-at-that-time-on-a-Saturday Stanley Street was chock full of revellers. Outdoor speakers blasted out the finest in camp house, drag queens put my make up efforts to shame and stalls served up booze and burgers to the masses.

The crowd was a mixed one taking in leather clad bikers, emos sporting the kind of piercings that would melt a metal detector, the ubiquitous scouse girl sporting a head full of Velcro rollers and the odd family outing resplendent with toddlers in push chairs. Overall there was a friendly vibe, people were genuinely there to have fun and I saw little trouble throughout the day. In fact the only act of aggression was courtesy of some bouncers enthusiastically ejecting a punter who had dared to sneak in his own refreshments. A less heavy handed approach probably wouldn’t have gone amiss.

After spending some time soaking up the ambience (and the vodka Diet Cokes) on Stanley Street, we headed over to the Poste House on Cumberland St. With alfresco drinking also allowed here, the lack of live music created a subdued setting and after hearing rumours that it was “proper going off” up at Garlands, trekked the short distance to Eberle Street for what can accurately be described as a rave in a car park. Brilliant.

With its line up of names you’d recognise from the reliable GBar/Garlands DJ roster, this was the highlight of the day for me. Regardless of the weather, location or reason, there is always something inherently hedonistic about dancing to house music outside. Yes, there was a few of the forecasted “light showers” and yes, it was hardly the terrace at Space. Nor was it not very free-spirited of me to be safely ensconced under an oversized brolly whilst getting my rave on but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

With a younger, glammer crowd than the one found on Stanley Street and the hours advancing steadily towards evening, it provided the perfect transition from daytime festival to Saturday night on the tiles.

Sloping off a few hours later in search of a loo (please, more facilities next year Liverpool City Council) we popped into the Masquerade to be met with a temperature that was akin to the tropics, on a particularly sultry evening. Or like a hot and sweaty sauna. Talking of which, I got a lovely flyer advertising the services of Splash Sauna – a new establishment in town. I must pop in soon for a facial…

With the heat getting too much, we called it a day/night and headed over to the Shipping Forecast before the clock struck midnight and I turned into a pumpkin.

A quick note on the more “official” happenings on the day, I missed the Parade due to its early call time of midday (surely pushing the timeslot a few hours would garner a greater audience, I’ve heard a few complaints regarding this) but by all accounts it went off without a hitch. The Radio City stage at the Pier Head offered entertainment from local talent such as the House of Suarez and “man band” Cub Stars with the star act being Kim Mazelle resplendent in a feather boa and belting out a diva version of You’ll Never Walk Alone – a brave, opinion-dividing choice. Still, live and let live, eh? Isn’t that the Pride vibe?

Despite, or perhaps because of, Liverpool Pride being a fraction of the size of its sister festivals in Manchester and Brighton – which charge for admission – the sophomore year proved that you don’t need the big headline acts and wristbands in order to make a great festival. You just need a good atmosphere and a shared respect amongst the crowd. And with 40,000 attending, that’s one massive vote of confidence.

More next year please. But this time with added sunshine s’il vous plait.

Pic one and two: Sakura
Pic three: Pete Carr
Pic four: Matt Ford 

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