Clubs

The Curtain Club

By Vernon Page

 
Photo:The Queens Hotel

The Queens Hotel

Photo by Tony Mould

Slip through the twittens

In the 1960s, along with many gay friends, I frequented the Spotted Dog pub in Middle Street. But when 'The Dog' called last orders, many of the regulars would quickly slip through the twittens - Ship Street Gardens and Black Lion Lane - to get to the Curtain Club which was situated underneath the Queens Hotel.

A labyrinthine design

The club was labyrinthine, comprising two bar areas and a disco/dance floor. It was accessed from King's Road, through an arcade-like entrance and then descending downstairs to the bars. To the right was a small bar area with quiet music. To the left one accessed the dance area and off this there was another corridor that lead to a noisier bar area.

You had to eat supper

It was designated as a 'supper club' and you had to pay to get in. For the entrance fee you were given a supper ticket - which you had to exchange for a ghastly supper. That was how it was in those days. You had to eat the supper too, as it was a legal requirement that enabled the club to serve alcohol, play music and stay open till 1 am. 

No close dancing allowed

By nowadays standards the restrictions were hilarious. There was a dance floor in the club but no close dancing was permitted. If two men so much as touched each other there was a monitor on duty who dashed towards them and separated them. It's difficult to believe these days, but the 1960s were an awkward time for gay people. Although attempts were being made to change attitudes, the police regularly raided the club and took the names and addresses of all those present. Maybe some people will remember Ronnie, the doorman at the Curtain Club, also known as 'Baby Jane'.  

This page was added on 24/07/2012.
Comments about this page

Back in the early 1970s I worked with a gay crowd at Sainsburys [yes...Sainsburys!]; as a married man with kids I thought it all great banter but harmless. After a works 'do' in the Druids one night Eric and Dave - a 'couple'- persuaded me to go with them to the-then notorious Curtain Club. I think the phrase used in Irish courts to excuse misdemeanours is 'drink had been taken'...all I remember about the visit was not the dancing or the gays but the horrendous 'supper'! Some obscure thin and dodgy salami and some wilted lettuce. Not what most people think of when discussing Brighton's cosmopolitan gay scene.  I never went back!

By Geoffrey Mead (26/07/2012)

The good old days. The Curtain club run by Michael Platt and Peter Brown (Wendy). Big Ted on the door, and yes those suppers were awful. Little Chinese Tony behind the bar and Kevin. After the Curtain club closed, Adam Christoforou, the owner of the Queens Hotel, converted it to a modern box type club and called it The Adelaide, I was the first dj there. Then went on to dj at Kenny Lyn's club, the old Mr K's, now called The Manhattan. Then Rain restaurant, bar and dance floor and then The Beacon Royal in Hove and finally Revenge. Saw Michael Platt and Peter a few years ago, Michael looked the same

By Graham Ward (07/09/2012)

It is really great looking up the old places of Brighton that I frequented when a teenager. A remark about the Curtain Club. My mother worked there for a while in the evenings. I do not know what it was like when the later owners had it but Glen and Brian owned it when I was about 13. It was not a dive then. The guys were really nice and they were really lovely to my mother who was a barmaid there. I know Glen lived in London. When he left Brighton my mother gave his dog a home and we had him for many years. No one has mentioned Bill's dive and that really was a dive. There was also a bar above which was called Harrisons. They were demolished and the Thistle now is on site. Does anyone remember the Florida rooms which was located in the front of the Aquarium downstairs?

By Pamela Charles (14/12/2012)

HI there, it's nice to see that the Curtain Club has not been forgotten, I was in my day there, I built myself up to get a gold card, which you showed at the door, also allowed to queue jump, I loved it there. dancing, I remember Michael Platt, and Derek, I would like to know  what year did the Curtain club close please if that's ok? Regards

By Geoffrey Folkes (04/08/2013)

Nice to hear a bit about the old Curtain Club. I used to work there for a while. What memories thinking about Michael and Derek and of course Peter Brown 'Wendy'. We had a great time. I was there when the place closed. They had a raid one night and the staff were asked who the boss was. Everybody said Michael but in fact it was Derek and the inspectors knew that nobody was really declared. We were all told to leave and that was that!

By Keith Palmer (25/10/2013)

Michael and Derek used my pub - the Pedestrian Arms. He would invite us all down, after closing on a Friday evening. All of the pub straight and gay had a whale of a time. Best club for fun in Brighton in the early eighties.

By Bill and Beryl Dye (06/07/2014)

Ho, Baby Jane (Ronnie) I remember her well, as a northern boy of no more than 22 years back in the late 60s down in Brighton (for the first time) I was invited to have a drink at the Curtain Club, as a northern (butch gay) to me this was something of a  awakening - being a gay was illegal back then. As I write this I (as an old man) I have tears in my eyes thinking about my many happy times a the Curtain Club Why I came back up North and deserted Brighton is a long story, but one I have always, always regretted. So Viva La Curtain Club.

Editor's note: sorry David but your post had to be edited in relation to your information on third parties. Hope you understand.

By David Farnsworth (12/08/2014)

Reading peoples memories of the good old Curtain brought back very happy memories. Like many others I too would spend the evenings @ The Spotted Dog as well and The Greyhound - the call for last orders and a quick run to the Curtain. Ray Bishop was the owner together with his partner "Della" who, as I recall worked very hard. It was 1969 I first ventured into the B'ton gay scene aged 18 and still had a a lot of growing up to experience but, as things happen I fell in love with John - a very butch Scot and were together for about 20 months as these things do. I recall the police raids with glee all adding the excitement of coming out and being without family restrictions of my adolescent years. I saw Ron (baby Jane) the doorman, some many years ago and he hadn't changed at all. Some of the older characters remain very vivid in memory. Halycon days! XX.

By Michael L. Collins. (28/09/2014)

I see the article was presented by Vernon Page, a name I haven't heard for over 50 years. Are you the Vernon Page I was at school in Moulsecoomb with who had an older brother Barry by any chance?

By Ian Smith (24/03/2015)

Hi Ian, yep, it's me. I remember you well and your dad, George (I think I got that right), a lovely man. Here we are at the other end of our years. I miss all my old mates from Brighton, though I live close by, all went separate ways seemingly. Do you ever see Colin (Tuggers), Martin (Pearce) Michael (Lighton) ... shame about David Evans, I had a real crush on him but he died in the early 70s from a drug overdose. I married twice and had 5 children (inc. 2 stepchildren). Gone back to single and gay now but no longer a gay scene man. How are you?

By Vernon Page (02/05/2015)

Hi Vernon, I'm trying to track down people who remember what it was like being gay in Brighton pre-1967, for a history article in Viva Brighton magazine. Sounds like you might fit the bill? Would be good to hear from you.  vivabrighton.com

By Steve R. (12/07/2015)

I was resident DJ at the Curtain Club from 1975 through to 1979; I loved the place. I had a night off the night it was raided, such a shame. The place was always busy and the people were great:Chinese Tony, Dragonela, Derek, Michael, Peter, Andy on the door and Phil and Tony in kitchen and the bar. Sadly Peter died but ichael is still around - often see him and reminisce. I played all imports and would at times play stuff months before it came out in UK. We should have a Curtain Club revival night. Anyone remember David the dancer, big Ted and Ricky and Sue?

By John Mansell (28/09/2015)

Dear John Mansell.  After reading your comment about Michael still being around - I believe Michael is my relative and he is the last of my cousins, I have only recently discovered this information. So if Michael is still out there, Paul would really like to meet him. I last remember Michael at my grandfather's funeral in 1988. I would really like to.

By Paul (24/10/2015)

Hello I used to go to new Heart and Hand then Palace then Curtain. I am trying to contact John Starley,Nigel and Dave,Ian and Bil.l

By Ian Copeland (25/12/2015)

Michael Platt, if you are still living around Brighton, I'm Paul Saggers and would love to meet you after so many years. I'm interested in your history back in the good old day's of the Curtain Club.

By Paul Saggers (06/01/2016)

It is heart warming to read people’s memories of the wonderful Curtain Club days. Peter and I purchased the club on December 16th 1972 and we had eleven fantastic years and we sold in December 1981. I have so many memories of the guys who used to come to the Curtain and various special events we had: Halloween, Valentines night, Stars of the Silver Screen with the fabulous “Shirley” (Brian Dobson). So I say Hi to all you guys who have written down your memories and to those who were part of the Curtain Club period of time and lots of love. Michael Platt. To Paul Saggers, Please contact me.suddenmike6@hotmail.com

By Michael Platt (16/06/2016)

To Paul Saggers: Sorry Paul but I deleted your email in error. Good to hear from you - email again. Thanks

By Michael Platt (08/09/2016)

Hi you Curtain Club guys, you may be able to help me with the history of a painting which came into my possession in 2000. It is a copy of Rex Whistler's painting: HRH The Prince Regent Awakening the Spirit of Brighton: it is oil on board size 5ftx4ft. I remember it was hung in the curtain bar in the sixties when Ray and Derek had the club but after they sold the painting disappeared. I do not know how long before the sixties the painting was in the club, but I know the club was formed in the forties as a Registered club for Ladies and Gentlemen of the Arts. I do have a Judge Postcard of this painting which I think is about the fifties. It would be great if any of you guys can throw some light on this. Very best wishes. Michael Platt.

 

By Michael Platt (22/09/2016)

How lovely to see Michael Platt on here. Last time we spoke was in St James's Street quite a few years ago, you looked just the same. Hope you are keeping well. I used to run Blades guest house for a while. Shame I can't add a photo then you would remember me ha ha. Wonder what happened to Kevin and Andy, I know Chinese Tony has passed away and Big Ted. Those were the days :-) Graham 

By Graham Ward (22/12/2016)

So happy to see some familiar names, especially Michael Platt.   I have very fond memories of my time in Brighton at The Palace and The Curtain Club.  I used to DJ there 1975 - 1980 (first at The Palace then The Curtain Club), before moving to Texas (where I still DJ). Glad to see some of us are still around.

 

By John Arnold (26/12/2016)

Hi I remember the Curtain Club it was great. Does anyone remember someone called "mother"? or was that later on? You can tell I enjoyed the 70's!

By Julie Payne (20/05/2017)

Reading John Mansell's comment a Curtain Club revival night would be wonderful - if anyone is interested I'm in!

By Julie Payne (21/05/2017)

Mother (Toni Lewis) keeps a guest house in Blackpool.

By John Williams (04/11/2017)

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