Brighton’s new Ironworks Studio immediately established itself as a destination venue with its inaugural sold-out event, the Pride Gala Launch, on Saturday July 31.
A sleek, welcoming space with tiered seating for 150 and a handful of small tables stage-side (making capacity 180 in total), the studio proved a huge hit with an audience keen to celebrate the launch of the 2021 Pride season, which sees an extensive season of LGBTQ cultural events throughout August and September.
Saturday’s theatregoers were treated to a 10-strong line up of queer artists introduced by razor-sharp Kween of the mostest hostess Felix Le Freak, who held the evening together deftly, defiantly, delicately and decadently, with Brighton cabaret favourite Billie Gold kicking off the night in grand chanteuse style.
From drag king Sammy Silver’s unique take on interview culture to Lorraine Bowen’s show-stopping, Britain’s Got Talent-famous musical comedy, the event was just the tonic for pandemic-weary punters, for many experiencing their first proper night out in months. The venue is quietly sophisticated, fully accessible and has quite the impressive sound and light rig – West End quality and chic cabaret club vibe. The 3D projections are thrilling and there’s even a catwalk, which was strutted down by most of the high heeled performers. It’s an intimate venue, with every seat in the house giving clear views and excellent sight lines to the stage.
The extravaganza of drag, singing, performance, comedy, and searing thrilling queerness kept coming courtesy of The Harlequeens, Brandy Bex, Lydia L’Scabies, Rhys’ Pieces, Dick Day and Alfie Ordinary.
Closing with a crowd-pleasing sing a-long-a-queer anthem led by Alfie Ordinary looking like a Pride popper going off in a tinsel factory, we couldn’t have asked for a more queer start to the Ironworks or a more Pride feeling to the end of this rather superb show.
Alfie brought everyone to their feet, many joining hands and singing along, a superb community moment to carry the very happy capacity crowd out into the night. The whole Pride team should be proud of all their hard work in bringing this unique new space to life so quickly and making sure it’s a fierce venue to be reckoned with. Who else has a rotating stage this side of the Thames!!
Apart from a few hiccups with the microphone, which Felix Le Freak turned to their comedy advantage, production was slick and seamless, the diverse acts showcasing the versatility of the space, which has plenty of other Pride events lined up, check out the programme, or book tickets here:
With both bar and online table service available throughout the performance, this smart new multimedia venue taps into the hospitality industry’s new and ongoing trends, and proved from the off with a widely mixed audience that it is a groundbreaking LGBTQ community hub.
Pride at the Ironworks is supported by Tesco, with all productions helping local causes and community groups, including the Brighton Rainbow Fund and Pride Cultural development fund.
Also currently on show at the Ironworks, as well as Jubilee Library and Chalk as part of Pride’s festival of cultural arts, is Brighton-based photographer Chris Jepson’s The Identity Project, exploring what it means to identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community today.
The Pride Ironworks well and truly arrived in style on Saturday, seriously watch this space!! A new Queer Space on the block has arrived, redefining what it means to go out and BE OUT in Brighton & Hove.
All photos © Chris Jepson