Blue Moon 21st Anniversary
As the UK’s oldest gay café celebrates a milestone birthday Allan Radcliffe casts a backwards glance over its history
Today Edinburgh boasts a thriving gay scene that includes bars and clubs, cafés and shops, with the area between Broughton Street and Picardy Place now popularly known as the ‘Pink Triangle’. It wasn’t always thus, however. Until the mid-80s there was a dearth of places in the capital for LGBT folks to gather and chew the fat.
Now a venerable Edinburgh institution the Blue Moon Café appeared in its first incarnation 21 years ago as the Stonewall Café, the first venue of its kind in the UK, in what is now the LGBT centre on Broughton Street. Owner and local nightclub impressario Alan Joy moved the café to its current location at the corner of Broughton Street and Barony Street 15 years ago.
Current manager Colin Dempsey has witnessed numerous changes in the café in the ten years he has been working there. ‘The biggest change is in the clientele,’ he says. ‘Although we have gay staff and it’s gay owned the crowd we get is much more mixed that it used to be. It’s a sign of the times, I suppose.’
These days the Blue Moon is much more than just a café. The upstairs has expanded to include a juice bar, and Deep Blue, the bar downstairs, serves drinks until 1am and can be hired for a private party or function. Indeed, the staff celebrated the anniversary earlier this year with a party for current and ex-employees in the function room while the café opened for business upstairs. There are plans to hold further events to mark the occasion later in the year.
‘Some people are here four or five days a week,’ says Dempsey, ‘so there’s great banter between the staff and regular customers.’ She may be getting on in years, but clearly the Blue Moon is more popular than ever.