Party till late
Winner of the Best Newcomer at the 2017 WOW (Wonder of Westside) awards, the biggest name on the nightlife scene can be found on Broad Street with PRYZM, a four-room, 2,500 capacity venue, the main arena showcasing the latest light and sound technology with guest DJs and celebrities. This is complemented by the more intimate Curve with its latest R’n’B tracks, while, for those wanting to ‘freak out’ to retro, the disco room, Vinyl, features a flashing dance floor and the House room plays pure house music. Thursdays host P.A.R.T.Y and Fridays and Saturdays feature celebrity guests and international DJs. Although there’s no comparable rival, there are still plenty of places on the same street.
The O Bar pumps out the tunes every night of the week for soul, R’n’B and funk mash up variously courtesy of Flashback, Glam, Society, Passion and Anthem City. Recently given a major refurbishment, the Australian-themed Walkabout offers Twosday and Superstar Saturdays. Also relatively new to the strip are Popworld, playing party music from across the decades with its Hanky Panky and Zoo nights, and Mooch Bar with Reggaeton on Thursdays while The Velvet Music Rooms offers Kiss Fridays and Deja Vu Saturdays. The current star, though, is Players Bar, with its Saturday party nights.
Heading into the city centre, All Bar One on Newhall St has recently had a major refurb while, moving across town to Hurst Street you’ll find the heart of the city’s Gay Village, the focus of the annual Pride Festival and home to the veteran Nightingale Club with regular nights including Pounded, Saturgay and Saathi, a monthly Friday night for South Asian gays. In the same area, cocktail-bar culture can be found at Sidewalk, over in Sherlock Street, The Core, one of the biggest gay clubs, is the home for men-only night XXL while other bars and clubs in the Gay Village include Loft Lounge, Eden Bar, Glamorous, Queens Tavern, Missing, cabaret venue The Village Inn, fetish cruise club Boltz and The Fox, the city’s only lesbian bar.
The O Bar pumps out the tunes every night of the week for soul, R’n’B and funk mash up variously courtesy of Flashback, Glam, Society, Passion and Anthem City
Burlesque and creative clubbing
Launched in early 2016, Medusa Lodge is a new sexy adult club featuring a burlesque club with a 1920s feel designed to appeal to both men and women. And on Wrottesley St, with its open air themed Moroccan garden, Bambu is one of the party scene leaders. Moving on down to the Arcadian, the IndiVidual Bar offers club nights every night and the Missoula has live music every Thursday. Back in the city centre, veteran Birmingham club Snobs has established its new home Smallbrook Queensway, remaining an alternative/student scene favourite and still featuring weekend club nights Rehab and Loaded.
Over the past couple of years, Digbeth has become the city’s club hot spot. The various indoor and outdoor spaces hosting everything from indie rock gigs to eclectic dance as well as club nights by Made (as well as the Made Festival 2017), the Saturday roof garden club Colors, Cream, Mix Mag, Tekto and Portal as well as occasional visits by long-running techno club House of God. Mama Roux inspired by New Orleans and Deep South America is the new home to Propaganda, the city’s biggest indie music night, Lab11 is a house-themed warehouse party scene club in the heart of Digbeth, while, with a capacity of just 150, Suki10c (also known as ‘Suck It N See’) is at the heart of independent, creative clubbing and music in Birmingham. Another Digbeth clubbing heavyweight is Boxxed, a converted warehouse with exposed brick walls and an up-cycled lorry as a walkway which has different staging and design layout for each event.
The Ruin offers regular DJ nights The latest addition is The Mill, large warehouse space and an open-top roof garden next to the Victorian railway arches on Lower Trinity Street and its sister venue the Digbeth Arena. As well as being home to award-winning street food venue, Digbeth Dining Club, the intimate, dimly lit environs of Spotlight offers a more chilled vibe with nights such as Moho on the first Saturday of the month. Over on the other side of town, beneath the railway arches on Water Street, The Tunnel Club is an underground dance music venue sprawled across six different rooms and three dance floors offering everything from hardcore industrial to dubstep and garage.
Over the past couple of years, Digbeth has become the city’s club hot spot. The various indoor and outdoor spaces hosting everything from indie rock gigs to eclectic dance
Live music and performance venues
Turning to live music, with its three rooms, the O2 Institute in Digbeth is a major player on the touring scene, embracing both established and rising stars of mainstream rock, indie, R’n’B, rap and dance. Arguably the city’s prime live music venue, however, the O2 Academy, on Horsefair at Queensway Circus, has three rooms of different capacities and presents a wide spectrum of music from rising stars to outfits who travel in massive tour buses, but aren’t ready or prefer not to go the arena route. Those that are and do can be found projecting to the back rows of the Resorts World Arena at the NEC and Arena Birmingham while jazz, rock, pop and folk concerts are regularly staged in tandem with classical engagements at both the Town Hall and Symphony Hall.
Back in the centre of things, nestling in the Arcadian Centre, the Glee Club is one of the city’s finest small venues, showing impeccable taste credentials when it comes to up close and personal gigs of the more singer-songwriter variety. As the name might suggest, it also doubles as the city’s leading comedy club, hosting regular nights by top stars and rising rib-ticklers as well as warm up spots for those heading to the Edinburgh Festival to try out their material. The Comedy Loft also raises a laugh on Friday and Saturday nights next to Mooch on Broad Street. Meanwhile, over in the Jewellery Quarter, The Jam House, co-owned by Jools Holland, regular offers live music events, usually of a soul or R’n’B nature, with names from the past, if not necessarily the original line-ups.
There’s many more intimate pub venue settings for live rock and indie music dotted around the city centre, most notably The Sunflower Lounge and the Asylum. Moving out of the city, Kings Heath is home to two of the city’s smaller but most vital music venues. The place where UB40 played their debut live gig, with two rooms for live music, the Hare & Hounds is a regular port of call for both local and touring acts while, just across the road, The Kitchen Garden Cafe offers an intimate platform for artists of the folk, singer-songwriter, country and jazz persuasions as well as regular comedy nights. The same road was the former (long demolished) home to The Plaza Ballroom, a prestigious 60s venue that once hosted the Beatles, commemorated by the Kings Heath Walk of Fame honouring artists with connections to the village.
Back in the centre of things, nestling in the Arcadian Centre, the Glee Club is one of the city’s finest small venues, showing impeccable taste credentials when it comes to up close and personal gigs of the more singer-songwriter variety
Folk music, traditional pubs and gin bars
Heading out of Kings Heath, on Wednesday nights, The Red Lion hosts one of the country’s leading folk clubs with a programme that mixes up the trad and the contemporary. Folk fans are well served, too, by September’s annual Moseley Folk Festival, which has grown massively over the past few years, attracting names such as Billy Bragg, The Proclaimers, The Levellers and, in 2018, Teenage Fanclub and The Levellers. Moseley is also home to The Cuban Embassy, located in St. Mary’s Row and hosting live music six-nights-a-week with special guest events in the upstairs room.
If you’re just looking for a good drink, then there’s a plethora of pubs, of which recommendations should include The Physician in Edgbaston, a former 19th-century medical library, that sells eight local cask ales and recently won ‘Best Pub in the County’ National Pub & Bar award, the nearby airy and spacious The High Field, the Bartons Arms in Newtown, a Victorian building where Charlie Chaplin used to drink, the Rock & Roll Brewhouse in the Jewellery Quarter which brews its own vegan beer, real ale specialists The Wellington on Bennett’s Hill and the post-industrial styled Purecraft Bar & Kitchen in Waterloo Street owned by Purity.
If your tipple is gin, then you’re well served by the quirky Jekyll & Hyde in Steelhouse Lane (with its Alice in Wonderland-themed gardens), the canalside Gin Vault (within the O Bar) and, named the best gin joint in the UK at The Icons of Gin World Gin Awards, 40 St Pauls with over 140 gins but only 24 seats, with the city’s first Gin In The City weekend having taken place in July.
All in the best possible lap dancing and striptease taste, Birmingham also offers a selection of Gentlemen’s clubs. The Cyclone Club, the New Ambassadors and the Rocket Club are all within the city centre while Spearmint Rhino can be found heading out to Five Ways. There’s a choice of casinos, too, most notably the Broadway and the Grosvenor, both at Five Ways, and two Genting Casinos, one on Hurst Street and the other at Star City in Nechells. A third Genting casino is also sited at the Resorts World complex at the NEC. Go on, make a night of it.
Everything you need to know about Birmingham
The best things to do in Birmingham
Where to eat in Birmingham
The best shopping in Birmingham
Your guide to arts and culture in Birmingham