Every single time that Birmingham Pride takes place, it becomes the greatest weekend of my year, and as the 2017 event drew closer and closer, I knew it was going to be the best yet. Then, just a handful of days before, disaster struck in Manchester as a terrorist attack took place at the end of an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena, which saw 22 people die. It was unsurprising that they upped the security for Birmingham Pride, and many people decided to sell their tickets. As for the rest of us, who decided to not let fear take over, we had one of the best pride weekends we’ve ever had.
This year saw Birmingham Pride celebrate 50 years of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK with the theme “Love & Pride”. It was literally so endearing to see the masses of people attending Birmingham Pride this year, showing that we are happy to celebrate who we are and our legality to be ourselves. We weren’t afraid.
Pride celebrations practically start on Friday night for pre-pride as many have come to call it. This is the day when many attendees check into their hotels, catch up with their friends that they haven’t seen since last pride, and go out clubbing and make new friends. Well, that’s certainly what I did.
Saturday came around and I expected five people to turn up at my hotel so we could all watch the parade together; unfortunately, only two turned up; one was too ill – but she arrived the day after, and two others decided they didn’t want to go after the Manchester attack the previous Monday.
My group and I went down to the parade, outside the HSBC bank – which had changed their logo to the pride colours, whilst updating their window display. HSBC was one of the official sponsors of Birmingham Pride. The parade was a lot of fun, with various floats blasting out music that we were loving. Everyone was having such a great time, and there were various groups giving out free stuff, we got flyers and stickers from various brands; but, the best was Asda, who were handing out free apples from their shopping trolleys.
After the parade, we headed to the gay village, where we had to go through security, as per usual. This is why I wasn’t worried about pride after the Manchester attack, not only had they upped the security and included armed police officers – who we got a picture with – but the security has always been tight in the gay village during Birmingham Pride; pockets were emptied and I was patted down. It may be a nuisance especially when hundreds of us are lined up to enter, but it makes it much more secure and safe, bringing a calmness to Birmingham Pride, knowing that nothing bad will happen.
Inside, we met friends in Missing before heading the dance arena where Official Nancie was playing. The tent may have been empty, but Official Nancie brought it. She was definitely one of the highlights from Birmingham Pride, and I’m glad I got to experience her DJ set; she even played Platnum’s “Love Shy (Thinking About You)” which is a total dancefloor jam! Next, we went to the funfair, which is always my favourite place to go to at pride, especially the Tagada and the Waltzers rides; we then followed it up by going to the cabaret tent, where we saw Vicky Jackson as Pink. That day, we also visited the main tent, where we caught the end of Saara Aalto’s performance and watched RAYE, M.O, Nadia Rose, Louisa Johnson, and Dua Lipa. We headed back to the hotel for food and predrinks, whilst getting ready to go out clubbing on the night. Another one of my friends arrived, and we decided we must take her to the dance arena.
So that’s exactly what we did. The dance arena was jam-packed, more than we had ever seen it before, and Sandi G was totally bringing us some unforgettable tunes. We ended the night at the Nightingale – our typical club to end any night out. This year they didn’t bring any star names to the stage; instead, they hosted the Alt Club Stage, which had a variety of acts who were fairly known. We stayed on the bottom floor which was stuffy and way too hot, but it always has the best music. We also visited Missing, Sidewalk, and The Village that night.
Sunday was much the same. We had a lie in all morning and half of the afternoon as we waited for one of my best friends to arrive, the one who was majorly ill, and she still was that afternoon. Even though she was severely ill, she dressed up for the occasion as a stunning mermaid and even got the side of her face glittered up from one of the stalls at pride, to which my other best friend also did the same at a different stall.
We first went to the main stage as I decided I was not going to miss Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon. We were so impressed with how she transformed songs we all knew and loved into this dungeon themed set that we completely loved from start to finish. She even sang her own popular songs “Crazy Chick” and “Call My Name”. Not only that, but she announced that she was pregnant on the Birmingham Pride Main Stage; congratulations Charlotte Church. She should totally release a Late Night Pop Dungeon album; this is something we all need in our lives, and I totally see it going to number one, just like Pete Tong with Jules Buckley and the Heritage Orchestra’s album “Classic House”.
Next up, we went to the dance arena to see Kissy Sell Out. If there was one DJ I wasn’t going to miss, it was him. He is one of the defining DJs in the UK, who once had his own show on Radio 1. He was monumental in bringing electronic music to the UK. His DJ set was a great mix of songs that we were loving as each minute passed. Then, Marc Spence came on next, and it was a very different DJ set, one we weren’t so keen on, so we left to go on the funfair rides instead.
As for the main stage, I wasn’t interested in the acts performing that day, apart from Charlotte Church. The big profile acts hadn’t had a hit song in over a decade, and even though my friends were texting me, telling me how awesome Jamelia, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, and Gabrielle were; I just wasn’t interested in standing there during their sets, only knowing the few songs that were hits. That does mean we missed Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s awesome speech, but that’s okay because many people filmed it and I watched it recently, online.
We ended up heading back to the dance arena, where Marc Spence was finishing his set. The dance arena was still packed, and his DJ set had definitely become better towards the end. Then The Stickmen came on and blew us completely away! If you ever get the chance to see this DJ duo, make sure you do not miss out on that chance. They were beyond awesome, dressed as LED stickmen with drums that also lit up; they were crazy amazing. My group of friends and I stayed throughout their entire set, taking videos and loving all the songs they were playing. A total highlight of Birmingham Pride 2017; this DJ duo deserves worldwide success, they brought it like no other act could, and it was something so different and unique, that completely added to our dance arena experience.
We then headed back to the hotel room, so my one friend could catch the train home. She was really feeling ill; more so than she was before, and as the train journey went on she got worse and worse. Luckily, she got home without any problems whilst I was regularly texting to make sure she was okay. After I was sure she made it back home safely, we headed back out again, ready for a night of clubbing.
We headed to the cabaret tent first, to meet up with friends. On stage was Cheddar Gorgeous who didn’t really impress me. Our group soon split as some friends went to the funfair, whilst we stayed in the cabaret tent for a little while; before heading to the dance arena again. This year the dance arena was the place to be, and I said that was going to be the case before Birmingham Pride 2017 began. This time Joe Hunt was blasting the tunes and we were loving every minute of it, until we found out they had closed the entry to the dance arena, and my friends – who had gone to the funfair – couldn’t get in; so, we left and met them at the main tent, where my favourite Nightingale DJ was giving us a DJ set like she’s never done before. DJ Corey is a total beaut, who always gives me life whenever I’m in the Nightingale - she even put up with my constant requests of Inna, one night, even though she didn’t know who Inna was and couldn’t find any songs by her in her collection until she struck gold and found “Endless” and played it just for me. At the main stage, she not only managed to impress us all by acting as one of the hosts, but her DJ set had us dancing most of the night; well, until my second ex and his best friend wanted to meet up with me. So off to Sidewalk I went with a few friends to meet up with my ex and his best friend, who I still get on well with.
We headed to the Nightingale to end our night, once again. This time it felt even more packed and even more stuffy – is that even possible? Regardless, I had a good time in there, and I even got up on the podium and actually had it all to myself at one time; which isn’t something new, that’s for sure.
Overall, this has been the best Birmingham Pride in the three years I have been. Birmingham Pride 2017 may have brought some fear in people after the Manchester attack; it may have brought an allright line-up to the stages; and, it may have had extra security. Yet, it brought out-of-this-world DJs – ones that I’ll never forget – yes, I’m on about Official Nancie and The Stickmen; it brought stand-out acts – such as Charlotte Church; and, it also brought face glitter, amazing funfair rides (as usual), a whole new stage, tantalising food that smelled great, and more people than we’ve ever seen at Birmingham Pride. We just want Birmingham Pride 2018 to hurry up and come around. Bring on next year!
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