Introducing Memories From The Dance Floor, a new podcast from Acast's Amplifier incubator

Introducing Memories From The Dance Floor, a new podcast from Acast's Amplifier incubator


From sloppy first queer kisses on a juddering dancefloor, to the last orders peering through the latex-booted legs of a drag queen on the counter of a sticky gay bar, the UK’s LGBTQIA+ community has blossomed in club spaces through the decades. With his podcast Memories From The Dance Floor, Damian Kerlin, a Derry-born journalist, and publicist who has covered queer communities and club culture from Cardiff to Belfast, Birmingham, and London, is taking us under the rope and into the queer chaos, joy, and community. 

Through first-hand accounts and on-the-ground reporting, Damian will meet with the party boys, dykes, and drag queens who lived and loved in these spaces – spaces that, today, remain under huge threat. In the past decade alone, 60 percent of London's LGBTQ+ spaces have closed down. The stories, secrets, and snippets of gossip that live within their walls are in peril of being lost forever. 

“Being from Northern Ireland, where it was hard to grow up gay and where many LGBTQ people leave and never come back, I had such little access to queer spaces,” Damian says. “It’s in you to just feel like an outsider, doubly so. My writing has always been about LGBTQ+ social affairs, and importantly, celebrating queer life and culture. This idea has just bubbled in me for some time.”

Much of any chronicling of LGBTQ+ history that’s been done is in academia or the written word, which is why – coupled with the auditory opportunities for capturing a community built on thrumming basslines and diva vocals – the podcast medium really appealed. “I want people to hear the real voices of the workers, artists, and party people, it helps it to feel as lively and accessible and as gossipy as it should!” he says. “Everyone deserves a share in this history.”

Damian's first experience of queer joy and protest was at Belfast Pride at age 13. "I remember visiting my aunt in the city and walking onto Castle Street, to be engulfed in gay culture and color,” he says. “Then there was Pepes in Derry, one of the singular LGBTQ+ venues in Derry, that’s now shut. I'd try my luck there at 16 – I'd slip past the bouncers and see this huge celebration of people, different generations of the LGBTQ+ community like I'd never imagined. It made me – like so many others – who I am.”

Each episode will take us inside one venue, exploring its enclaves and stories with the performers, staff, and patrons who have strong connections to it. Through the season, he'll find the pertinent narrative threads of the scenes – be it the AIDs epidemic, trans inclusion, the political elements, the fashion moments. A historian will be brought in to weave in the history of the tapestry. Riotous and joyful, technicolored and multifaceted, Damian wants to take us to the hectic highs and stoic moments of crisis in the LGBTQ+ community through the lens of the disco ball. “We'll pick up at the Vauxhall Tavern, Nightingales, and The Black Cap, and see how the community intertwines,” Damian says. “Canal Street in Manchester could be a season in itself!” The Black Cab in Camden, for example, was one of the first major British spaces for queer cabaret and drag, where Lily Savage started an illustrious career. A space of protest and major parties, it sadly closed in 2015. “I can't wait to find the golden nuggets of each era – what went down in those changing rooms with drag queens post-show?” he says. Another iconic space was Soho’s Admiral Duncan, which suffered a hideous terrorist attack in 1999. Its tragedy brought together a community in need. 

“I want this to serve as a community binder, education, and reminder of the importance of these spaces. It feels so necessary right now – there is an obsession in the right-wing media, and in-fighting, that’s fracturing our community. Most of all, it’s about a loud, proud celebration that will hold generations today close and unite future ones.”

Memories From The Dancefloor is available on all podcast apps, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, and Google Podcasts.

Photography by Tino Chiwariro.