Community News

OBITUARY: Gary Swan – ‘Gloria’

December 25, 2016

March 8, 1958 – December 18, 2016

Anyone who has supported the Brighton commercial scene over the last 30 years will probably at some point have had contact with Gary either as a friend or a customer at one of the many venues he worked at. The majority of us knew him as Gloria.

In the 1980’s, when the number of gay venues in Brighton was a lot less than today, Gary would regularly socialise in The Curtain Club, The Palace Club, The Heart & Hand, The Bulldog, The Cricketers, The Spotted Dog and The Longbranch after returning home from his job working in commercial conveyancing in London. Gary was known as being the life and soul of the party with a love of music, dancing and fashion.

Following the opening of The Beacon Royal, Aquarium and Secrets the opportunity for Gary to meet up with friends and hit the dance floor increased. With his height, build, long platinum blond hair and a laugh or scream that could fill a room he was very recognisable. Once seen Gary could never be forgotten.

After being made redundant Gary took a job as a barman at Revenge and soon took control of the second floor ‘Pier View Bar’. On quieter mid-week nights, he would hold court and keep regulars amused with his sharp acerbic wit.

When Tony Chapman bought the New Europe Hotel, Gary started working some shifts behind Legends Bar. In time Gary moved on from Revenge to work at Legends full-time. He managed the night bar several nights a week and worked during the day on Sundays.

In August 1995 the licensing laws were relaxed, allowing all day opening on Sundays and with that, Legends introduced their now infamous Sunday Cabaret slot. This was a delight for Gary who loved introducing the acts who were performing and giving him chance to get to know them all better.

As the 20th Century drew to a close Gary decided that it was time for a break from working on the scene and he started work at a call centre for Cable and Wireless as a team leader. However, within a short period of time he began to miss the scene and returned to The New Europe Hotel at the weekends to begin his years as a doorman at Schwarz Bar.

With the closing of Schwarz and the call centre at Cable & Wireless, Gary returned to working in property conveyancing taking a role with a solicitor’s in Crawley, but it wasn’t long before he was back on the door at weekends at Revenge.

Following the financial crash in 2008 again Gary found himself without full-time employment and returned to working full-time on the door at Revenge and R-Bar where his popularity resulted in him winning the Golden Handbag award for Favourite Door Security in 2010/11.

Gary remained at Revenge until health issues meant he was not able to carry on doing a job he loved. While on the door he was known for being firm but fair with a welcoming smile for those who behaved themselves!

Behind his ‘Public Persona’ Gary was a deeply private person who kept any problems he was having to himself and like Greta Garbo he regularly said: “I want to be alone”.

As his health began to fail Gary spent his time caring for his mother at the home they shared in Worthing, with their large family of cats, and doing some work for Worthing Cat Welfare.

Sadly, after several stays in hospital over the past year Gary’s health deteriorated during the last few weeks of his life and he passed away peacefully on Sunday, December 18.

Details of a celebration/memorial of Gary’s life will be announced as soon as they have been arranged and where everyone who knew him will be welcome to attend.

An old friend of Gary’s, said:

“Gloria was one of the true stately homos of Brighton the like of which we will not see again” 

                                                                                      Submitted and written by Andy Carpenter