Via – once Via Fossa – is to become ‘Polari’. One of Manchester’s best-known Canal Street venues decries the change as a ‘nip and tuck’, with a series of tweak that sound like an attempt to shift ‘up market’. They’ve announced that there will be no dance music or pop, and instead they will have a live pianist and vocalist with a classical/jazz theme depending on the night.
I was particularly struck by their door policy description (keep in mind they have to comply with the Equality Act in the same way that a ‘straight bar’ can’t exclude ‘gay’ customers). They state:
‘We like others are investing in our Gay Village and we will still be a straight friendly GAY venue and we will be continuing with our policy of No Fancy Dress and No Bunny Ears we do not cater for Hen Parties or Stag Nights because after all we are a gay space in the gay village not Blackpool seafront.’
Poor Blackpool (although it’s an absolutely true observation). It seems Via is the latest venue to re-iterate that they are a ‘gay venue’. When they say ‘straight friendly’, it’s essentially to say they will comply with the law. They can be straight unfriendly I suppose but not down and out opposed. They can however, control dress-policy and the re-iteration of their existing policy of excluding hen and stag parties highlights that these parties remain an issue of the village – an issue that was notably highlighted in the important research of Bev Skeggs, Les Moran and others. A must read for students interested in queer space.