I’ve held Brighton in high regard since my first visit, many moons ago for a gig with a friend. It was an unprecedented barmy few days at the beginning of September, 2011. There was sunbathing and ice cream. We’d been to see Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra at Concorde 2 (on purpose) and also landed up seeing Carl Barat at The Prince Albert (by mistake). Both were brilliant.
Of course, it could well be that I’ve been there so little, but enjoyed my short breaks there so much, that I’ve created a blinkered view of the place. It could be because the likes of Nick Cave and Natasha Khan (of Bats For Lashes fame) have made it their home. It’s just that on the whole the people don’t seem to be jerks, the pubs are old but paradoxically serve stuff I can actually eat and drink, they often play music that isn’t a repetitive drone and yes, according to society I am probably already past it.
Several years on, much has changed. My favourite club night has gone (Stay Beautiful), as has the venue (RIP Sticky Mike’s). I’m a lot less bothered about clubbing, which is sort of a blessing as we arrive on Sunday night and all of the club nights I have any interest in, aren’t on. We sack off Brighton Pavilion for its expensive entry and no idea of what’s actually inside. Even the weather is against us – for our only full day, it is torrential. The place, however, feels fresh and full of life. Besides, rain means an exhilarating trek across the Palace Pier with some well-earned chips in the Palm Court and then onto a succession of gloriously oldy-worldy pubs including The Black Dove (gothy antique-shop chic), and the cheekiest little seasoning of satanism in the form of The Hope and Ruin and The Quadrant.
The fact that the landscape has changed does not effect my enjoyment of the place. I realise we’re only a few days into February and we’ve just had the yearly resolutions and Veganuary, but as a recent convert to “guilt-free” eating (and for a man who’s not long since shunned everything plant-based unless heavily processed into something unrecognisable and full of sugar) Brighton feels like it’s a big part of that movement. Without being a preachy bitch, seeing a bus with a “see me as someone, not something” ad beside a gorgeous little lamb (goveganworld.com) and pubs and restaurants that are 100% vegan (Purezza and Beelzeburger) now speak to me. There’s also the graffiti adorning most walls and alleys and artwork abound depicting the unloved Gallaghers of the skies (AKA seagulls). Are you considered vermin by anyone who won’t look past their unguarded potato-based snacks? Head to Brighton and have your likeness painted!
We don’t go to any gay clubs this time, but it’s great to see the rainbow flags everywhere, and for someone who’s always feels like a bit of a freak (and despite unfortunately not being gay myself – to quote Troy McClure; “Gay? I wish!”) Brighton feels safe and inclusive.
By the time it comes to our actual reason for being in Brighton – to see Tears for Fears supported by Alison Moyet (both are absolutely fantastic) – we’ve almost forgotten we aren’t just here to relax and soak up Brighton’s ambience.
I love you Brighton, and I wish I could live with you, but where would the hens go, and where would I get the money and the job? I fear I may not see you for a little while, but for all your energy and inspiration I thank you. Let’s not leave it so long next time.
Alison Moyet’s loveletter to Brighton and the LGBTQ community that has embraced her.