So proud to be in the pink

Basil Newby outside Flamingo for 7 Days.
Basil Newby outside Flamingo for 7 Days.
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YOU can be sure of a gay old time in Blackpool this weekend.

Pride is again in full swing. And growing each year.

For Basil Newby, it’s something he has always wanted to see.

Gays, straights, transexuals – everybody of any sexuality – all able to mix and party together in a fun celebration.

Basil – whose entertainment empire in the resort has grown to six venues from the humble beginnings of the Flamingos Nightclub in the late 70s and early 80s – is delighted by the success the Pride festival has had in Blackpool.

He says: “Over the last five years, Pride has just grown tremendously. It started off just a small event but it is going from strength-to-strength every year.

“I really look forward to it. Now lots of people come from all over the country to Blackpool Pride and I think it now rivals other Pride events elsewhere.

“It’s great for me of course and In the Pink venues, but also for other venues in the town and hotels.”

The gay scene in general and Basil’s own empire, In the Pink Leisure, has grown massively over the last 30 years, almost beyond recognition.

“I owned the old Flamingo for a year before I turned it into a gay club.

“I think at first, things in the early 80s and being a gay licensee were difficult.

“I was advised by my solicitor not to tell the police or anybody I was gay at that time, because I could lose my licence.

“Also in the 1980s, there was the whole Aids thing, and it put the gay scene back tremendously.

“People’s attitude was they didn’t want to go to gay clubs because they were scared of catching Aids and people wrote nasty things on walls about it. It wasn’t how things are today.

“Now, straight people love going to Flamingos. They call it ‘Mingos’ and love the Bohemian feel.

“Now it doesn’t matter whether you’re gay or straight. Now people can mix and accept each other and that’s the way I wanted things to go.

“I think there are probably some gay people – especially from my era – who still feel they want a separate gay scene.

“I can understand where they are coming from, but I couldn’t stand on that door and tell someone they couldn’t come in because they are straight.

“I would never want someone to do that to me because I am gay.

“I think Funny Girls helped to bridge that gap and get a good mix of people.”

And Blackpool-born and bred Basil loves to be present in Flamingos or his other venues, including Bar B and Roxys, whenever he can.

“I love meeting and talking to people and I love the way there is such a variety of different and interesting people. I love that part of the job more than paperwork in the office.

“But with licensing laws changing and Flamingos being open until 6am now, I sometimes do wonder what I’m doing there so late!”

When Basil isn’t too busy with all his business affairs, he likes to spend time in the countryside and appreciating the stunning grounds of his

home for the past 25 years, Mallard Hall, in Singleton.

He said: “I don’t get much spare time, but when I do – it sounds a bit sad this – I love to spend time in the countryside. I love the animals, I love the trees.

“When you’re so busy in the bustling clubs and bars – we can get 5,000 coming through those doors over the weekend and I am responsible for them and their safety - it’s nice to get away from it all. To be at peace.

“It’s nice to be able to appreciate the countryside.

“I’ve lived in Mallard Hall for 25 years, but I count my blessings every day. I love to look out the windows at the grounds and appreciate them. It’s nice to live somewhere with a history too. That’s what I love about Funny Girls, with it being in the old Odeon. I remember going to that cinema and my sisters paying for me to watch Bugs Bunny cartoons on a Saturday afternoon.”

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