This morning we opened a new display - There's no place like Garlands! - celebrating the iconic Liverpool nightclub, to coincide with Liverpool Pride, 30-31 July.
About a year ago, I’d just started working on the Pride and Prejudice project and within a week I found myself in the Garland’s drag room uncovering the story of a club I actually knew very little about. Amongst the sequins and feather boas I learned the importance and significance behind the music and sparkle.
Garlands opened in 1993, the first after-hours gay club in Liverpool. In the early 1990s many saw Liverpool’s gay scene as seedy, underground and unable to offer anything as fresh and exciting as Manchester’s thriving gay clubs. All of that was about to change when Garlands opened on Eberle Street in the city centre.
“Homophobia was still rife from the backlash of the AIDS epidemic and Garlands was the first place everyone could mix. It brought love, respect and harmony to the community” - Lady Seanne, speaking in 2016.
It soon grew from strength to strength in the heart of Liverpool’s gay quarter. Despite arson attack, raids and threats from far-right groups Garlands is still thriving today, attracting thousands of clubbers every month. Now, people of all sexualities party into the early hours on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
In its 23 years the club has won numerous awards, has been featured in the fashion magazine Tatler, held club nights on the Mersey Ferries and in Ibiza, inspired a play, become the longest established Saturday resident dance night in the country and is a firm fixture on the Liverpool club scene.
The display, on the first floor of the museum, includes a range of camp, fun, promotional material produced for the club over the years, feather boas worn by the club’s flamboyant performers and a programme from ‘Drama Queen’, a production inspired by the Garlands scene.
We hope you’ll agree, there really is no place like Garlands!