And we’re off to the northern English city of Sheffield, home of the world’s oldest football club (who knew?), and the town responsible for legendary bands such as Pulp, Moloko, and The Human League.
The lost space we are finding out about in this episode is The Cossack, a tiny pub in the city centre that was open for around 30 years from the early 70s to the early naughties.
I caught up with drag artist, DJ, community worker and activist Heather Paterson to talk all about the anticlimax of coming out to friends and family, sneakily reading lesbian magazines at the newsagent, and finding friends for life at The Cossack.
Make sure you follow Heather on Twitter
Heather Paterson 00:00
She turned around to my mom and she said, One, all gay men do not have AIDS. And she said Two the fact that they’re gay means they’re not fucking likely to shag her
K Anderson 00:11
Hello, I am K Anderson and you are listening to lost spaces, the podcast that mourns the death of queer nightlife. Every episode I talk to a different person about a venue from their past, their memories are created there, and the people that they used to know. On today’s episode, we are visiting the northern English city of Sheffield, home of the world’s oldest football club. I mean, who knew that I didn’t know that and legendary bands such as pulp malaco, and Human League. The last space we are finding out about is the cost sack, a tiny pub in the city centre that was open for around 30 years from the early 70s. Up until the early noughties, I caught up with drag artist DJ community worker and activist Heather Patterson to find out about her first days in Sheffield, and how she found the pub and her tribe.
Heather Paterson 01:37
I mean, I moved to Sheffield for you today. And I think my accent still 20 odd years later gives me away as a scout so but I code Sheffield Didn’t you know, 18 years old, didn’t know anyone else. I wasn’t. Before I moved to Sheffield, I was themselves bought. And I knew I was gay from probably probably school age. But it you always have that thing of, you know, obviously growing up in the 80s 90s, it wasn’t necessarily as accepted, we have section 28. But you just are personally you will like I’ve got friends and family who’ve known me since I was born, if any of them took it badly. And I’ve got to deal with the sorts of fallout of that. So I’ve sort of decided long before you do that. Sort of when I moved to Sheffield, I didn’t know anyone, so I wasn’t bothered about that reaction. So it was like I came out sort of literally day one, I was like, people are gonna meet me as a gay woman. So I was like this really giddy sorts of 18 year old who sort of appeared and was like, Hi, I’m Heather. I’m a lesbian. And I was like, as quite as a soul as a conscious decision because it’s not going to upset me getting a bad reaction from someone I don’t know. But then if I but if I meet someone get to know them and then come out later. Yeah, and then they react badly. So I did that sort of quite consciously.
K Anderson 02:55
So what did that feel like? And yeah, I think
Heather Paterson 03:00
I think the idea of doing it now will be terrifying but at a scene when you sort of you know you can take on the world if that source of
K Anderson 03:10
but there’s just yeah, cuz there’s also like there’s just so much change at that time. Isn’t there like you’re moving to a different city so I
Heather Paterson 03:16
just moved away first time away from home and yeah, it was all sorts of a big adventure. So I did that. And then I was like, okay, that’s great. I’ve sort of moved into my new shared house met these people come out to them but you know, I’m in a house full of straight people told the people on the course who to my knowledge was what all straight they weren’t bought at that point I believe that way. And I be there a couple of months on the slide right actually need to go outside I found
K Anderson 03:47
her was in the paper. So you spend the first few months just telling everyone you were a lesbian but not like being a practicing lesbian.
Heather Paterson 03:54
Yeah, cuz there was like, I was just in a house straight out of uni course for straight people. I was like, where do the gays so yeah, so I’ll be there. Not a huge amount of time, maybe two months or something. And I found the because we didn’t, the internet did exist, but not the way that you know, I’m not quite that old, but not in the level that it is. Now that was, you know, we didn’t have social media rarely your, you know, I think, I think, I think had a MySpace profile, but there wasn’t really, you know, the level of sorts of Facebook events, lists and other things. So it’s a bit more difficult to find things. So I found the, like a student newspaper that had like some lessons in it listed the Cossack venue, and I was like, Oh, we’ve got a gay bar. And I remember going there for the first time so I’d sort of decided right I’m gonna go went on my own my housemates Well, I guess that’s great, but we’re not going to gave you golf so like 18 years old wrapped up, wrapped up to this pub and stuff. myself at the bar, the only person who spoke to me all night was Alison, who worked beyond the bar. And the only thing that she said to me was same again. So I was like I saw, I saw some tabs open about eight o’clock, I sat there till about 11 just sort of drinking cheap lager. No one spoke to me. And I was like rice, I’m probably never going to go out on the seat again, this was a awful, terrible idea. And then just as I was leaving, and intended to just go home, to guys, sort of stop by the warehouse and was like, Oh, you go into planets. And I was like, what’s that? And is that it was a gay club up in attic life, which is just a couple of miles out of the centre, which is where the, the source of what was the seed was based. So it never used to be in the city centre. It was stuck out on an industrial estate. So I was like, I think I was just so pleased that someone had spoken to me. And I had a couple of paid staff leave at this point. And I was like, Oh, yeah, I’ll call media. And they blatantly just wanted someone to split a taxi fare we paid myself in, they instantly disappeared. So I was like, Well, I’m here now. And I’ve literally just paid to get in, and I’m gonna have to get a taxi home. So I may as well have a drink, got a drink, walked in, and there was a little like, seat in there. And there was sort of one table that had like a spare seats. And I was like, how can I say I got talking to that group that was on that table, one of which was case you became my first girlfriend about that night. So suddenly, and all that group were really involved in. They used to run the monthly, gay, nicer, Sheffield University. One of them was a drag queen. One of them was a nightclub dancer. So I sort of got adopted by this really outgoing group of seeing queens who were like, let us show you the whale. Like, if had not gone to that club without that one extra drink. So
K Anderson 07:03
yeah, thank you to those tight gay men who didn’t want to pay cab fare.
Heather Paterson 07:08
Yeah, that was my like, first they get done. Obviously, I was like, yeah, so I sort of made a couple of friends that Kawasaki became Cossack was always your local because it was open seven nights a week, it was the one that was in town that was open source of early doors, that you could sort of it was pretty bought on the university campus. So that was all sorts of local hordes.
K Anderson 07:35
So let’s, let’s cycle back to that, that first night and plucking up the strength and the courage to go in. Because I think that’s kind of a very common queer experience. Like, I don’t have any friends. I’m gonna like, I’m gonna have to, like, figure this out and be brave and go on my own. Did you stride in? Briefly, or did you kind of go around the block a few times? Um,
Heather Paterson 08:01
yeah, I mean, I think a lot sort of got got out of my head. But yeah, it wasn’t the first time I’ve gone to the pub. And it wasn’t the first time that I’d sort of been there early to sort of meet some friends. I think it was maybe more remade in there. So go, walking in, go into the bar, getting the paint was kind of okay, because that’s what you would do anywhere else. But it’s then when you finished your paint, no one’s turned up to join you. No one’s spoken to you. And doing and getting that second paint or not, not just walking out and like looking like you’ve been stood up or you’ve got no made? And I just, yeah, didn’t have like, at that point, you didn’t have smartphones or anything. I had like a Nokia 3210. So I think I was like sat playing snake. It wasn’t like you could even scroll through, through like Facebook, or whatever. It was like, that
K Anderson 08:53
sounds like a good night to me sitting and playing snake.
Heather Paterson 08:57
Yes. And I cut out Really? Yeah, it’s not a big venue at all, what what you know, wasn’t a big venue. It’s really, really strange now to see because it’s been demolished. And there’s just a patch of grass where it was. And when you see the actual footprint of it, and you sort of think of all the nights that we added there and going where we had a lot of like big nights out on this really small few meters squared of grass. And it seems even small, allow it to be demolished. But it was, it was nice, because you got to know like, at that point, everyone knew everyone. So that wasn’t in terms of the number of people who went out on the scene. It wasn’t the way and a lot of people say you once you did know people, you go in and all the locals knew each other. So it was anywhere else. If you went on a nice house, you’d arrange to meet friends and be like, well go into this place at this time. The cost that you didn’t, because it was there was maybe Rotating pool of guests 200 people. So you walk in, and you’d know pretty much everyone in the bar. So you never thought, oh, shall I arrange to, you know, you might have said to someone, I’ll see you at the weekend or whatever, but you just turn up and you’d know everyone. So it was really nice as sort of an airhead. Like, it did have a bit of a source of local village, the family sorts of field because it was such a small community at that point to who would else? And
K Anderson 10:29
so what do you think? So? just picking up on that, do you think that given now that it’s more accepted to be out, there are more people who are out and so the scene is bigger? Is that what you’re getting at?
Heather Paterson 10:43
Yeah, so it’s I like the idea now of me just go and say to Dempsey’s, which is our longest sort of established, ball stroke club that’s still open in town. Like, if I just walked in there, opposite mints over than the staff, I wouldn’t be guaranteed of knowing anyone else in there. Whereas when I walked into the Cossack, like, everyone knew everyone, you know, there wasn’t, you know, because they like, say, because it was such a small pool of people. So, so it does have a different feel to it bore equal, obviously, it’s a lot better now that more people are, you know, do feel comfortable being out, and there are more people go down. And that was obviously, you know, much, much better. But there is like a little bit of you where that sort of a friend of mine phrased it really crudely, but there was an element to the news, like, Oh, I prepared it when it was a little private club, they’ll just let anyone in nowadays.
But just referred back
Heather Paterson 11:42
to that time when it was that like, really small. Yeah. I mean, everyone knew everyone’s business. And it was like, you know, it was the centre of gossip. And, you know, it’s that bit of you don’t want to sort of, I don’t want to encourage stereotypes, but there was a lot of that sort of bitchy gossipy bore in a good natured way. But it was that I think it was just that nature, because, oh, did you hear what he got up to last weekend? Or, you know, it was that sort of, because everyone knew each other. There was that sort of gossipy element to it?
K Anderson 12:20
And were you ever the subject of gossip? Of course not. So, can we talk a bit more about who you were at that time, so you’d move to Sheffield, you’d had this big like, Dinah Ross, I’m coming out moment. And on your very first night out on the cuisine, you got a girlfriend? Yeah. What was? What was that liberation, like?
Heather Paterson 12:50
Very short lived? I think we I think we went out for about three, probably bout three months. But when you know, you see like three make it past breakfast at that age.
K Anderson 13:08
Did did that then empower you to come out to your family.
Heather Paterson 13:13
I actually came Well, I came out to my sister bought to my parents I came out to accidentally so I came out. I was elected the following year as LGB officer Hallam uni. And so when I sent an email, my signature on email automatically came up had the password LGB officer. And I only know the result of this conversation because my kids sister was still living at home and witnessed the conversation and got straight on the phone to me laugh at her socks off to tell me. So one time I just emailed home and whenever I emailed home, I used to delete the LGB office a bit off the bottom of my signature. And one time I just forgot so I emailed of like Hi mom and dad This is the exam results or whatever it was that I was sending that was parent friendly. And apparently how it went was but I’ve got the email cuz my mom doesn’t do technology and she’s stood over his shoulder reading the mail not getting too close to the source of anything technological. And the reason though, and it gets the get to the bottom has an LGBT officer and she’s like, what’s LGB stand for? And apparently my dad was like turned around when lesbian gay bisexual, and I some may not have that she’s she’s not as she is and it’s not this and and I was like prior to move in Sheffield like I was a walking stereotype had shaved my head I lived in like I had a Skinner Doc Martens dungarees, you know, I was, I was every Yeah, I think had just decided that in my head. It was like, I’m coming out. I’ve got to adopt the dress code.
K Anderson 14:51
We got to try it on. Yeah,
Heather Paterson 14:52
yeah. So I was like, yeah, and my dad blatantly like although I hadn’t come out and my dad had clearly twigged And is certainly once I call that doesn’t mean I had that is and we don’t like isn’t it obvious as I should I know by what you mean say, Well what about the posters on it on a wall like when Jews when a teenager and so what can we inside? Well, she had like posters of like Courtney Love and Shirley Manson and things shy in the video and when you say I’m the one with like a thought you just like the music. We don’t actually like Metallica. But there were no pictures of avid that on the craft as well. So that was so yeah, so I came out to my parents accidentally on an email.
K Anderson 15:38
But that’s interesting. So your dad, your dad was like, Yeah, whatever. Like I knew already and your mom was a bit of a shock where she was okay with it.
Heather Paterson 15:47
She was she was she did like I think really all would mom thing of being like, I think she just didn’t get it. And she tried really hard to be too cool about it. So like, I go and visit and then suddenly she’s on the Indigo italiana be like what you think to her watch things. And I was like, Mom, if I was straight, I wouldn’t be talking to people that are fancy, you know? And it was like, yeah, so she was quite she she clearly found it difficult, like my mom’s quite source of quite sheltered, I think. And so
K Anderson 16:23
when she like, Oh, she’s pretty and she’s
Heather Paterson 16:27
just trying real, like in a really cringy way to be like, which is nice, I guess, you know, I’ll be like it was clearly completely out of an experience and it and she tried a bit too hard to be really cool with it and just bought him a job works at the University of Liverpool. A lot of his friends are students. He’s quite politically active. He does a lot of trade union stuff. So he had a much more varied friendship group and experience and, you know, wasn’t wasn’t too fazed by it. I think Although, I think not being too fazed, I think if anything, because he’s quite used to sort of banner waving trade. You do this and stuff, I think. I think he was quite pleased to go all out. You know, it’s sort of another flag for him to wave. I think if I came out as a black Jewish disabled lesbian, he would have been even happier. Yeah, he’s great. We dad, so he was fine. Like, I think he I think my dad probably knew before I did.
K Anderson 17:32
Yeah, it’s kind of anti climatic. I was in it when you’re like, Oh, I’m not gonna tell them and I’m gonna like keep it a secret. And then when it does come out, they’re like, Oh, yeah, no worries. Yeah. No worries, said, you know, damn, wasted all that energy.
Heather Paterson 17:47
Like, I’d just come out to my sister or a boss. She was like, they were just, we just kept it up. And she was like, Oh, you got out with anyone. As I Oh, yeah. Have you pulled, pulled or whatever. And I was like, Oh, yeah, I’m seeing someone. She’s like, oh, what’s he called her I was like Katie ligatures, we just drafted up to be just on the other dog, but added to Todd. But, but I kind of knew that the system wasn’t gonna care. Like, you know, she was going to be fine with it. So while the, you know, we have that sort of brief, brief moment of a bit of a laugh, but she was like, Yeah, I was never really massively concerned that she was gonna take it badly or anything.
K Anderson 18:32
And then what happened with like, the wider family because the top of the conversation you were saying, that was kind of one of the things that you were worried about?
Heather Paterson 18:40
Yeah. Well, well, I think I knew, I think I was concerned about my mother, because I knew that she was, like, I say, she was awkward. She was she was fine. But she was awkward about it. It was outside its way and my grandmother never came up to like to. He passed a few years ago now. And I just think, to be honest, I just say I think he was at a point in life where I don’t see what the benefit to it would be the, you know, he wasn’t going to he wouldn’t have really got a it was he was quite sort of old school. And sort of at the age he was he was a nice early onset dementia and things and I was like, you know, coming out to someone wants is one thing, but I don’t want to do it 20 times repeatedly, in the nicest sort of way. So my granddad was the only person who I never actually came out to my friends, I’d sort of because I was in Sheffield. By that point, I sort of came out by text or phone call to him. And again, though, the reality was that they would all actually find bought, I’d not known whether they would be or not. So I have been sort of concerned about that. And again, to be honest, from a source of my friendship groups reaction was Yeah, tell us something we don’t know. Why didn’t you say you that Why? We thought that you should Tell us what you don’t do. Like it’s not when you kind of just told me that you know what I do? So like, yeah, so, so yeah, it was like, quite anticlimactic. I think I was, you know, very fortunate because a lot of people don’t have that, you know, my response ranged from sort of awkward indifference to really well received or just, yeah, whatever, we don’t care, it’s fine. So I was quite fortunate to not have any really negative responses.
K Anderson 20:37
If that thing though, isn’t it? Like it’s not? Because it isn’t always that someone just says, Oh, I can’t believe that you’re queer. Like, I don’t want anything to do with you. And sometimes it is more of just drifting apart, or, like they’re making less of an effort or, you know, things happening kind of gradually.
Heather Paterson 20:59
Yeah. And I think it was just like, It’s that thing of like, they could take it really horrendously, it could just change our relationship for, you know, and it was, it’s that or No, it isn’t it of like, if you don’t know how someone’s gonna react, so I sort of, I was like, well, I’ll just, I’ll just wait till the 70 miles between. It does go wrong, then, you know, it’s, well, I’ve moved now and it doesn’t matter. I don’t have to see him again, ever don’t want to bore Yeah, it was like it was all fun. But yeah, they ate obviously, like, because I know that a lot of people have different experiences. I think there’s definitely an element of definitely at that time. I think had I been a gay man, that would have been a different issue. I think definitely the
K Anderson 21:51
Oh, tell me more about that. What do you mean,
Heather Paterson 21:53
I think just for our age group, like we grew up through the sort of 80s 90s peak of AIDS crisis, a lot of sorts of homophobia in the media. I think, with gay women, the issue was more a lack of resident of recognition that we didn’t, we didn’t featured in the conversation one way or the other. We just didn’t we didn’t exist, which obviously is problematic in itself for for gay men, it was well, you get to be at risk of age, promiscuous. Yeah, you know, there was a lot more anti gay male sentiment. Whereas for gay women, it was a lot more that we didn’t exist. And we were in acknowledged. So both are problematic for
K Anderson 22:39
Heather Paterson 22:39
I think Kim, certainly, in my experience, and thinking of like, friendship leaves, the people who’ve got the Get out of my house responses. were young, were young gay men.
K Anderson 22:50
Yeah. Did you have any, in thinking about that kind of lack of representation? In the kind of a lack of visibility of queer women? Did you have anyone say to you, like, you just need to find the right man? Cuz that’s nice.
Heather Paterson 23:08
No, not really, I think the word probably the most often what I got. And again, like, I’ll tell stories about Ebola because she’s never going to go online. Don’t hate it. Don’t do the water came second half from my sister, because what I did what I did move to the chaos and my mom did know that I had a lot of gay friends. Most of my friendship group work were gay men. And I think my mom just thought for want of a better term that I was a fog. That, you know, she just thought that I was a straight with a lot of gay or flat and she didn’t it didn’t occur to her. But I was part of that see myself thought. And there was one time the most ignorant statement bought, I could understand the context of the time but she she turned around to my sister with and said, I’m really worried about us having having all of these gay friends what if she gets AIDS? How in Yeah, in absolutely pure ignorance, but you can imagine like at the time, that was, you know, and my sister has a wonderfully blunt way with words. So my 15 year old kid sister at the time, Ted Radin, I apologize for swearing but um, just to cope with that guy, she turned around to my mom and she said one all gay men do not have AIDS and said Two, the fact that they’re gay means they’re not fucking likely to shag her and I was like I was I have to remember that quote ’til I die. Brilliant. But I was like that you could have explained things to it in a subtle gentle way. But you know, bullet a charter shop will do.
K Anderson 24:54
Well, you know, sometimes you need a sharp object.
Heather Paterson 24:57
What I think is like it Ignorance in the pure sense, like I say, it’s just an entire world outside of that experience. And, and that was our experience growing up there. You know, I was 20, I think when section 28 was repealed, so I went through my entire schooling where they weren’t allowed to mention the queer people existed. And the only thing that you did have was to remember the awful aids up there with the tombstone. And that was the only thing so like, gay people didn’t exist. But if they did, the only gay people who existed were gay men who were going to get AIDS and died. And now and that was what you were told about, you know, publicly about being gay when you were young. And it was like, yeah, so that it was like a source of Yeah, a weird and sort of frightened times have to go, cuz you didn’t have the internet. I had the will go and rally off on a tangent, talking about gossip. But I remember going down the Ceefax as it was at the time, you know, the old town.
K Anderson 26:03
I don’t see it. Yeah, so I didn’t grow up in the UK. So I don’t know.
Heather Paterson 26:07
So tiny tax was on your TV, and you just pressed pressed a button. And it’s like, the equivalent of pressing the red button, I think was a really sort of pixelated text thing that had like a news page and a holidays page. And, you know, various categories, it was the closest thing that you had to the internet, but it was just a source of static info, size. And one of the pages that was a dating site that was sort of like personales abs. And there was a gay section on it, that had like, three people on it or something. And they were all about 40. And so it wasn’t like you will ever get to. But I remember going on there as a teenager and looking just to go that there’s some people out there, there’s a little section of men, for men and women who are looking for women. This is an actual thing. It’s not just me being a complete freak of nature of and enter was your TV in your living room?
K Anderson 27:06
So was that terrifying?
Heather Paterson 27:08
No, you just look at it when? Yeah, I didn’t go go out and look where my parents were in the room.
K Anderson 27:14
No, but like if they were kind of lingering around in the in the kitchen or in other rooms? Or was it just like when they were out, you’d really turn it on when they
Heather Paterson 27:22
were when they were there. But that was like, like a really weird thing. And then, and then when I was a bit older, I discovered diva magazine. And he used to go and like we used to have a big branch of Smith’s in town. That was pretty much like a read and lobby there will be people lined up across the magazine rack who just stand there read the magazine pretty much cover to cover, put them back on walk out. So I used to get away. When I was sort of a bit late teen sort of a bit later on that discover diva magazine don’t go in and just read. I could never buy it and take it home. But I’d go in and have a lot of a lot and
K Anderson 27:57
you were brave enough to read it in the shop. You weren’t worried about people saying you
Heather Paterson 28:02
know, because I didn’t know them and it wasn’t like Yeah, yeah, again, if I’d been in the shop with my parents, I would have been like, yeah, just some random people in town I wasn’t sort of bothered about
K Anderson 28:13
so I used to so when I would like go to to the newsagent. And like look at their gay magazines. There was always like so many naked men in them that I couldn’t just like look at it in the nice Hmm. Cuz it’s like, close to pornography.
Heather Paterson 28:30
See the wit? Yeah, the women’s magazine. It was like, mullets and folk festivals was you know, it wasn’t. It wasn’t the same level of porn content.
K Anderson 28:41
Luckily, things are changing. So let’s go back to cos AK, which sounds like you were in an episode of cheers every time you went there.
Heather Paterson 28:52
And it was like, it was just your local It was your seven nights a week. You know, it was open seven days a week, and we will probably in there four or five of it was like say probably not healthy to spend that much time in the pub. But that was where you? Yeah, I never really bothered bothered going to the Student Union because that was, you know, caught up was next door. So that was where you’d you know, we’d call in at lunchtime sometimes. Or it was just yeah, that was where were we all sorts of pressure which live. So yeah, we did no. says like, didn’t you have all of the stuff there? And you know, so even if you on the odd occasion that you did go in and it was dead or there wasn’t someone that you knew as a punter. You knew that you knew the staff anyway, so you just got to sit and prop up the bar and NASA to them. parietaria Yeah. So it was almost all sorts of second from broom. diver up so we would Yeah. And we did with the faesal pub, the tables the times we call pizza in Yeah, it was I mean, the early days, I think how much it changed just in those few years. The when I first started going there, they still it’s on the edge, just across the road from the train station. So on match days you’d have lots of sort of football supporters coming past and on match days they used to lock the pope or the lock the front and you have to go to the back door and knock on the back door to be leaded. And you’d be let only let in if you were known to that. Oh, wow. And
K Anderson 30:29
is that because like there was hooliganism and stuff?
Heather Paterson 30:32
Yeah, yeah. Just because, you know, a visible gay bar race on the bit where all the match supporters will be going past on mass. They didn’t trust a fight to spell in or someone to throw something or so they just shut the front and unlock the front doors. So you add that little sneaky just go go around the back.
K Anderson 30:54
And unlike prove your gayness your queerness Yeah.
Heather Paterson 30:59
Basically that because we pissy? Well, everyone knew each other. It was like, you know, it was like, you just go down to the bathroom. It’s like, I’ll get you COVID Oh, wow. Yeah, I mean, that was 99 that I moved to Sheffield. And I think it was 2000 434. It was demolished. So I had that sort of three, four years there. And it like so it was the, you know, at the at the time, it was the only city centre gave endgame. And everything else was there were other venues. But they were out at a cliff. And there was a monthly gain is at the university. And there was a monthly poptastic which is a Manchester night. But they did a want once a month nice in Sheffield. So they used to be a source of big night house. That? Yeah, I mean, I remember that. So you have that sort of like it being the centre of the scene. And then it being as all the places opened and things starts to move into town. It’s sort of a more people came out this little sort of old bump up wasn’t necessarily the highlights anymore. And But yeah, I mean, my core friendship group. Now I’m about like my best mate, I met Matt from an ice and coffee back like 21 years ago, and is still my best friend to this day. Oh, wow. So yeah, so it really, I think really that concept of, you know, I had moved away to uni from family and wasn’t wasn’t necessarily suddenly rejected, like, say they were cool with it. But I didn’t have like that close, I go back a couple of times a year and stuff. Some of my friendship group had quite fractious, sort of active rejections and separation from family. And that is that sort of what, you know, chosen family that we also refer to and that we, you know, so we think of each other as brothers and sisters, you know, so we are like, really tight knit and wait, like, say we all sorts of mess in the cost, like back in the day. And, you know, now I’m, you know, massive 80. And I’m 40 this year, and we’re still that source of tightness and other sorts of relationships. And, you know, things have come and gone, but that like little sort of family unit that we established is sort of remained a couple of decades later. So, so yeah, so I think that’s, that’s partly why I probably look back on sort of, you know, the concept with rose tinted glasses, because, you know, that’s Yeah,
K Anderson 33:33
that’s, yeah, that’s huge to like, have have met all those people that you’ve maintained that relationship with for ages.
Heather Paterson 33:42
Yeah. And I think at the time, like, obviously, you know, your teenage years, your early 20s, when life is a bit more chaotic. I mean, I don’t think I’d ever see myself as being like, I’m quite sort of settled. Now. My 18 year old self will probably describe me as quite boring. competitively, to her. That I mean, the light away from the software I do, like I still do drag a DJ and do things, but I’m not as I’m not as excessive as my teen self was. But yeah, I don’t think I don’t think you can admit, when you’re young, I don’t think you can imagine yourself being like, you think when you’re 18. You think fantasy is ancient, you know? And it’s like, Yeah, but I think in that same way that you look back and you view that time differently to how it may be was at the point that you will experience today. So
K Anderson 34:39
So with that in mind, then if you could go back in time, and go to the Kazakh sitting next to a 10 year old self at the bar, what would you say? Oh, God, I probably probably sound my parents would be telling me to do a little bit Aren’t you cold in that top?
Heather Paterson 35:03
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, what what, what, what are you were there times is not a reasonable amount to drink? Probably just probably just tell yourself off. But no, do you know why I think I was, I was enjoying myself and I was getting to know myself and I was making friends. And it was, you know, I was really fortunate, I think from that first, that first night to meet that, that group that really sorta took me under their wing and sort of introduced me to everyone and sort of get adopted into sort of a group who knew everyone and had quite a large social circle, and were really sort of actively involved in nightlife and stuff, you know, if the person that I’d happened to sit next to and got chatting to was an accountant who do, you know, went out once a week and was not like, you know, not cusses, especially not accountants, but you know, the people that I happen to be were really outgoing, active nightlife people. So it was like, suddenly, you’re in this group, where everyone you know, is a DJ or a drag queen, or a nightclub promoter or, you know, and it’s like it, you’re into this sort of really full on world that sort of quite had artistic and yeah, and it was by the bit where you look back now and go, not entirely sure how all of us survived. I’d actually on a serious note from fortunately, not only are my close, close, close friends, but actually from my extended friendship group, not all of us did survive on Mike, a source of slight well completely less amuse a dose that like actually some people aware a number of amongst the people that we knew there were a few drug overdoses and suicides and people who, you know, did have a tough time. But yeah, I mean, I was probably a decade too late to be to fully experience the sorts of age crisis. So some of our older friendship group had sort of had that experience of losing a lot of people to HIV and AIDS. And I think, I think there was a source of follow on of like, from the source of a couple of decades of age crisis that was then another decade of like, really had allistic really going for it and living life hardcore policy. And, and I think I entered that that window. And so there was a lot of Yeah,
K Anderson 37:41
heavy partying. But like, alongside that partying, I guess there’s also this layer of shared trauma isn’t there? everyone’s kind of a nice.
Heather Paterson 37:55
Yeah, because there were a lot of people amongst that group, like I say, who didn’t necessarily have, except in families who didn’t have like, great experiences or not, you know, that was a lot of, you know, there was something behind the party. And I think for a lot of people who were, yeah, you know, you’ve been, you are the you’re drowning your sorrows. Or you’ve even if you take the positive view, it’s like, you’ve got this newfound preda adoptive family and seem to celebrate or, you know, probably less black and white, some sorts of mix of both. So unlike say it was that sort of, yeah, anything goes mean to some of the stuff. I think a lot of us were sorts of, I was 18, because obviously, I’ve moved to Sheffield, for uni, but there was a lot of because there isn’t any other LGBT social space that a lot of underage people. So like some of my friends that I met some of my best friends now I was 18. But actually, they were maybe 16. They were college students, you know, there was a lot of sorts of underage drinking numbers, a lot of okay. Going out now, whether it’s there, I don’t see, or I go to less heavy party type venues. But the level of drug use, like was really, like really extreme and sort of some of the venues was like, a and there was one club that we used to go to where there were literally people doing lands off the bar, like it was that level of blatant. Wow. Yeah. And so I think a lot of that, and I’m sure like, you know, there’s house parties, and there’s raves. And there’s clearly scenes where that does still happen. But I don’t think, you know, in public bars and clubs, it’s maybe quite to the same, same level.
K Anderson 39:45
Hmm. Yeah. And I guess that’s the tough thing, isn’t it that in terms of community in terms of the scene for such a long time, those were the only places where you were able to find people Or that were part of your community. And so you either had to, like be the boring person with a glass of water, which is me, or like drink and and like get into it and then drinking can lead to other things. But at the same time, yeah, there’s something like that hedonism. And yeah, that exploration that’s so useful for finding out who you are, and what your limits are and what you think and forging your character.
Heather Paterson 40:32
Yeah, and it was like, like saying, go and go back now though, like those people that are still, you know, muscles are closest friends are the people who that I was having the, you know, three, four o’clock in the morning, let’s talk about the universe conversations.
K Anderson 40:48
Never go well.
Heather Paterson 40:52
But it is like that, is that sort of like, you did connect with people, I informed those rarely sorts of close bonds. And I think, yeah, being able to keep those so many years later is brilliant. But if I’d have never gone to the Cossack, I’d have never met the people who I then went to the LGBT Student Committee with, I’d have never been elected as LGBT officer, I would have never started getting involved in LGBT youth work, I’d have never got involved in the other areas of that seat. And actually, I can probably, you know, track, almost entirely the work that I do now. I could probably map it back to start and get the Cossack. Because I’d have never Yeah, I wouldn’t have known that was an LGBT sector to work in. I wouldn’t have met those people, I wouldn’t have made those connections. I actually, I probably shouldn’t admit to this. My first ever LGBT job was actually the result of a Cossack best. So I’ve met a guy Steve, who was got chatting to in the pub, and he was brought in for LGB opposite at the uni I didn’t even know such a thing existed. As I why are you doing it? I could do that. And just as a drunk and better decided to stand against him. You got to do you’ve got to get three people to nominate you. Right. You three y’all nominate me? Oh, yeah. And it was literally it was a drunk combat in the pub for a laugh to run against him. And I got elected. And I was I called Roboto. Dude out.
K Anderson 42:29
shattered his dreams.
Heather Paterson 42:32
He got it. He did it the following year he took over from me. Okay. Yeah, we became quite became quite good friends. But yeah, that was Yeah, I brought against him as a as the result of a drunk and bass in the Cossack. And I was like, I’m not losing the bass. I didn’t know anything about it. And then I ended up like, organising the weekly LGBT committee, or will actually it was LGB. committee that and we have
K Anderson 42:59
Oh, yeah, I was gonna say cuz you keep saying LGB LGB. Was there? Were there debates at the time about the about the T? Or is what did that happen? After you were in that row?
Heather Paterson 43:10
It literally we were the year that had the discussions bout it. And it happened the year or two after? So we did have the discussions about whether we should be added the tailed off? Because at that time, most things would LGB actually quite a few were still algae. Quite a few didn’t. Wow. So we were still at a point where the B was relatively new.
K Anderson 43:35
Wow. So long stoneyard doesn’t know.
Heather Paterson 43:40
Yeah, so lots of the groups and organizations and sizes and stuff still just describe them as lesbian and gay. So they didn’t. So so the B was still relatively new. And we were starting to talk about the T and then that got added a year or two later. So So yeah, we would just add that source of end of Yeah. And we and we had the trans people in number. But you know, there are people who would attend in the groups and weren’t actively involved. It just, we haven’t renamed them. So, you know, we were we were tribes inclusive in practice. Born we’d not course, you know, we’d not course often go and actually, our name doesn’t reflect what we’re doing anymore.
K Anderson 44:23
Yeah. So it’s so fascinating, though, that like they’re these kinds of debates are happening in universities, like a decade or near 20 years ago. Do you remember hearing about the costs at closing?
Heather Paterson 44:41
Yes, I was in there when it was on when it closed on the last night. Yeah, they let us take fifth. So one of the barstools is in my friend’s class, some of the optics from the out on the bar. They were like because they were literally going to be chucking stuff in the skip and demolish snare. They were We were We politely said, Well, can we take some souvenirs and they will I will have you can carry it. You can have it. So the way Yeah, so there were so there were a few sorts of barstools and bits and pieces that were were claimed as bit suburbia. So we’ve between us we’ve got various bits of all old Cossack memorabilia kicking about at our houses. And what did you get to keep? I didn’t, I’m not ended up with anything. I think I did probably take a couple of bits at the time. I used to have them in my house, in my student house at the time that we stuck, still hoping our bathroom we took the there was a little flame sign the zero drugs tolerance. And we and we stuck it in the bathroom of our students house. But yeah, we claimed various sorts of posters and ashtrays and bits. Yeah. little bits that you could sort of carry. But yeah, the bed beside it, but it was because I work just across the road side of Africa and password. It was demolished. And I was just so I did. So I did actually see it coming down.
K Anderson 46:03
Oh, wow. Good.
Heather Paterson 46:05
Yeah, this still where it is where it was, is now just a patch of grass that actually in this in the summer, we still have like, if it’s a nice day, we’ll go to CES and have a couple of drinks on on the patch of grass where costs are used to be? Well, it’s it’s it’s in the middle of the city center. And it’s you know, it’s people do sit out there and it’s like, or walk. So we still jokes I call sure we got a basic kosaka that Yeah, so we’ve got Yeah, it’s probably probably what at least once or twice each server, we still end up going and having enough to do and where we sit there and have a bit of a picnic and a few drinks and sort of have a bit of a reminisce of us to get up to.
K Anderson 46:53
Until if I were to talk to any of your friends and ask for embarrassing stories about you. What would they tell me?
Heather Paterson 47:01
Probably just about ridiculous outfits, drunk and karaoke fallen over? I don’t think I did anything particularly outlandish. I think I definitely had an interesting fashion sense. I mean, I do. I do drag down after that for a number of years. But that kind of ended up happening because I think people thought I did drag and actually really tacky dress sense.
K Anderson 47:33
Did you ever go to the car sack? Well, if you did, I would love to hear from you. Tell me your stories and share any photos or anecdotes that you have. From that time. You can find me across all social media with the user name K Anderson music. And whilst you’re at it, go and give Heather a follow on Twitter. Her user name is Heather Patterson. Law spaces is not only a podcast, but a concept record as well. I’ve been writing songs about queer venues and the people who used to live their lives there. And we’ll be releasing songs over the coming here. You can hear the first single which is called well groomed boys. And it’s also playing underneath my talking right now on all streaming platforms. If you liked this episode, I would really appreciate if you subscribe, left a review on Apple podcasts or just told people who you think might be interested in giving it a little listen to I am K Anderson and you have been listening to lost spaces.