I caught up with Craig Law, Host of the #InTheMix show on Gaydio, the world’s biggest LGBT radio station to find out why the bar has a special place in his heart. Craig gives me advice on what to do when your friend pulls and you’re left standing on your own like an idiot, shares the impact of Section 28 on his coming out, and ponders what happened to Swansea’s once vibrant queer scene (with special mentions for other queer bars Talk of the Town, Hush, and The Kings Arms).
Go and give Craig some love on Twitter and listen to his mixes on Mixcloud.Transcript
Craig Law 00:00
You know, champers wasn’t really adjusted that like many clubs Didn’t they didn’t adjust to the changing of the guard of the fact that gay people wanted something a little bit different than just you know poppers and club beats. I mean, I don’t know why because they were amazing.
K Anderson 00:15
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, the memories are created there, and the people that they used to know this week it’s our first ever visit to Wales and we’re going to the second largest city Swansea which has a population of around about 250,000 to find out about the last bar champers. I caught up with Craig law host of the in the mix show on gaydio, the world’s biggest LGBT radio station to find out why the bar has a special place in his heart. Craig gives me advice on what to do when your friend pulls and you’re left standing on your own like an idiot shares the impact of Section 28 on his coming out and ponders what happened to swans ease once vibrant, queer See?
Craig Law 01:44
Well, to be honest, I don’t think any walkie was growing up. You know, I kind of I mean, this, it’s really cliche, but you knew you were different. But you couldn’t quite put your finger on why. And it wasn’t something that you talked about, it wasn’t something that came up a lot. And when it did, people usually didn’t have nice things to say. So that was something of course, when it finally clicks that you know why you’re different and why you feel something that society at the time told you was wrong. You know, it’s it was a culture shock. It was it was it was, you know, it was it was it was really hard.
K Anderson 02:25
And so what was like when did the penny drop? Um,
Craig Law 02:30
I can’t really put a put a time on it just kind of happened when it all just kind of when you just kind of realised that why don’t I fancy these really stunning girls, you know, I, I had a lot of female friends in school, a lot of male friends because I played football, you know, our soccer to do a lot of international listeners. And I and I just don’t understand why you wasn’t being attracted. These girls like my friends were, you know, my friends will be having banter and talking about girls in, you know, very explicit ways. And it didn’t faze me one bit. You know, we did it. I didn’t have anything to contribute, but and then, you know, you started realising why. And you just kind of were like, Oh, okay. And I think the only time I could really pinpointed a school was when I the first time I came out and I and I was really struggling. I mean, I was really struggling. You know, I used to be quite an intelligent, bright student, you know, I’d get really good grades. And because of struggling, my grades kind of just went off that went off the deep end. And I remember telling my my teacher about it, you know, because I was really struggling. And I did I thought I think I need help. I really did. And she’s said, I can’t talk to you about this. And it was because of Section 28. At the time. I mean, I didn’t know anything about it. I was a 14 year old kid. I didn’t know anything about section 28. I didn’t know you know, I just I was just looking to someone I looked up to as a mentor to kind of help me through this, this this these things I was feeling. And she just said, I can’t talk to you about this. I’m sorry. But like, I can’t talk about this.
K Anderson 04:08
I mean, can you just think pause for a moment, like a 14 year old plucking up the courage to confide in an adult that they trusted, and then to just be shut down like that?
Craig Law 04:19
They broke us. It broke, it broke my heart. I mean, it’s, it’s set me back because it made me feel even more of an outcast. It made me feel like I was some dirty secret that needs to be locked away. You know, and, and it really screwed me up for a long, long time. And you know, and it was so hard because I just couldn’t think of anything else. I’d be up all night. Wondering how am I going to live? How am I going to live with this big giant monkey on my back? How am I gonna? How am I gonna do that?
K Anderson 04:52
And did that conversation then impact what you did next in terms of talking to other people about It?
Craig Law 05:00
No, definitely, yeah, I don’t think I told anyone for another two and a half years. You know, I just, I just, I just, I just, I just couldn’t, you know, I couldn’t, I just felt so much better, I felt so alone, I just felt completely abandoned and ashamed because I was coming round the idea that, you know, maybe there’s a path for me here that maybe there’s a way I can reconcile these feelings and reconcile the fact that I am different. And, you know, and hopefully, the teacher would have helped me to see that and see it through. But she couldn’t, she couldn’t talk to me about it. And I was just dismissed, like, I was, like, I was some sort of, you know, turd on our shoe.
K Anderson 05:40
And then, and then the two and a half years later, who was the person that you spoke to you next?
Craig Law 05:46
So, is a female friend of mine. And she didn’t take it too well, because she had feelings. For me, we were very close. But it was very much she, you know, was it’s all very, you know, cutting the cradle, in that she had feelings for me, and obviously, I didn’t. So, you know, as part of that conversation, I had to, you know, I had to come clean at at it, you know, telling my truth. And she was extremely shocked. Which, you know, I mean, back then I didn’t have any, you know, I wasn’t, you know, it wasn’t like a feminist. You know, I wasn’t flamboyant in any way. I was just me. I used to play football. I like sports. And you know, and I’m not saying that that’s a factor anymore, because it’s plenty of gays, like football or play sports now. But, you know, but the stereotype back then was if you’d like football and play sports, you can’t be gay. So she was very, very shocked. And, you know, thankfully, for me, that was the last negative experience I ever had, telling someone you know, about it.
K Anderson 06:49
So was it like she was shocked. And then it just took some time for her to get over was that just was worse than that.
Craig Law 06:56
I think she was just shocked and hurt. I think I think it’s definitely one of those things, the longer you leave it, the harder it gets. And I just think she felt kind of betrayed that I didn’t confides that much sooner. But again, I mean, I probably would have if I’d had some, you know, the support, and if I had the, the help, I think I needed I mean, you know, and maybe I would have, but it’s just, I couldn’t think of it, I just, I just dreaded the idea that you’d be sick to my stomach to think about doing it.
K Anderson 07:23
It’s such a weird headphone, isn’t it? I had a similar situation. And and, and, you know, every single sign was pointing towards me being a homo. And everyone, you know, everyone just took every opportunity to tell me, like, oh, you’re gonna be gay when you grow up in like your bag. But I had a close female friend, and we just did everything together. And we were just like, so tight. And yeah, then then kind of having to be like, Oh, yeah, you know how like everyone says, I’m gay, like I am. That was so difficult. And it felt like, yeah, it felt like I was betraying her.
Craig Law 08:06
I know. Exactly. I think that’s what, what she felt at the moment as well. I think she felt kind of betrayed, by by me not feeling comfortable enough to confide that and also because she was, you know, she was hurt by the fact that, you know, the feeling so she had reciprocated. So I think I think it was kind of a mix of all of that. But like I said, thankfully, was the last kind of negative experience of how to run coming out.
K Anderson 08:31
And so everyone else was like, yeah, Hey, come on out.
Craig Law 08:34
Oh, yeah. I mean, and that’s the guy. No doubt that they were. I mean, they literally my sister literally was my sister. You know, she kind of found out by accident. Actually, all my brothers and sisters found out by accident, they didn’t get a chance to sit them down and do the whole you know, I’m gay thing I didn’t really get the chance to do that. It was all kind of they all found out accidentally.
K Anderson 08:54
How do you find are accidentally like magazines?
Craig Law 08:59
Well, not quite so. My brother, my oldest brother found out when he decided to buy his first computer and then logged on the face party set up a dating profile. And then he saw me on there. And he had a run me up and he was like, Craig You know, I’m on face party. You know, God bless it back in the day. You know, I won’t say his party. It was like the precursor to all the gay dating sites of Facebook. It was like this really kind of just just just like a precarious a dating site where Okay, so kind of like it was back in the day with gaydar was huge and, and things like that. So. So he’d be like, yeah, go see a proper face party associate into guys. And he kind of like, oh, holy shit, you know, because I mean, I bless my brother. He’s not known for being calm. So I was always really scared of him finding out but then he just came over and give me like, the biggest hug and he was just, he was great. You know, he completely blew me away because I always thought he’s gonna like beat me up or something which is ridiculous. Thinking back in it now. But it did make us closer, you know?
K Anderson 10:04
Say Hang on. This is so sorry to be like picking holes in this. Okay, I’d like to how would he have found you unless he was looking for guys who like guy
Craig Law 10:15
i don’t think i don’t think he looked at I think at face party you could look at everyone regardless of the sexuality. I think I remember back in the day you could look at anything. So I think when he first went on that I think my profile came up because I was local to him. He didn’t really ask you your sexuality or the filter. So it’s kind of that’s how I remember
K Anderson 10:32
it anyway, but Okay, sorry. I’m just getting into like, hang on your brother’s gay?
Craig Law 10:36
No, absolutely. I mean, literally, he has no problem with it. But I literally can’t think of anyone who’s more hetero and more kind of that whole stereotype mask for masks thing you know, that is my brother, God bless him for it. But that’s how he found out anyway. And then my sister found out when I was on a night that with my friends, and she went to the toilet, and one of my female friends was there. And they just happened to talk for whatever reason. I don’t know why apparently women talk all the time in the bathroom. So you know, it just happened. And she was like, Oh, you know, Mrs. Like, I’m Craig’s brother. And my friend turned around and went, Oh, gay, Craig. I just was like, No, my brother’s Okay. And then you know, and then it just kind of snowballed from there. And she comes running just awkward. Wasn’t because here’s the thing. Like, she just comes running up to me in the bar, and she goes, Oh, my God, are you gay? And I’m just like, maybe Yeah. And then she just starts crying in the middle of the bar. And I’m just going, Oh, my God, oh, my God. Oh, my God. And it turns out, it’s like her dream to have a gay brother. So she’s like, crying with literal happiness and spa. And then she’s like, Oh, my God, I gotta have somewhere to go shopping with you know, do hair. Where’s that? I was like, Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop as clear. As I know, you want a gay brother. I said, but I hate shopping. You know, I hate shopping. And my hair is awful at all times ever. I said, I’m not going to be I think she wanted that really, stereotypically a brother. So and she was really heartbroken when she found out I was gonna go on shopping trips, and we were gonna reenact the scenes from clueless, you know, you know, and she was really devastated. And she started crying because she was like, Oh, my God, of all the people. Why did they get the bad gay brother? So she was devastated. But she’s been great. She loves her. She She loves gay clubs. she absolutely loves her.
K Anderson 12:28
So it’s no, it’s not that you’re gay. That’s a problem. It’s that you’re not leaning into any of the stereotypes.
Craig Law 12:32
Exactly. Yes. She’s just like, she honestly I think she would. She would she wants me to like, be covered in makeup and whatever. Which is nothing wrong with that, but it’s not me. So she was I think that’s what she wanted. She just basically wanted a big gay brother.
K Anderson 12:48
And so have we gone through all of the siblings then?
Craig Law 12:51
Oh, and and my youngest brother, but I see my youngest. He’s older than me. But you know, he’s the one in between. So he kind of found out when him and my other brother decided to do some, we’ll just say substances, we’ll just leave it there. And apparently, the conversation went like this. Oh, by the way, Craig’s gay and there’s like, Oh, okay. It was literally like that. And I what I love the most I mean it they literally don’t give a shit. They do it. They don’t give a shit. They just don’t give a shit about it. Most people who found out that I told literally didn’t give a shit. And I think that was the most enlightening thing in the world. For me. I did. I don’t want to do the whole becoming a thing. I don’t want to come in at a party. I just want to be treated exactly the same way as I was before people knew. And that’s what I wanted. You know, it’s like my former football team found out when I was when I went to used to play football. We all went out I got drunk. And apparently on the way home I just came out in a big dramatic scene.
K Anderson 13:47
So hang on, I thought you weren’t leaning into stereotypes. Nobody
Craig Law 13:49
the strangest thing is jack daniels fault. But it was I basing on the account because I was wasted. I only found only found out when I went to training the next day. And they were like our Craig, you’re so funny. You’re telling me we’re gay last night. And it was like, Oh, shit.
K Anderson 14:07
Well, and so they had they had interpreted it as you were just joking.
Craig Law 14:10
Yeah, they did. And then it was like that. It was like, it’s like, Okay, guys, I’d maybe I wasn’t joking, you know, and then, you know, after a couple of minutes of questions, you know, making sure that I didn’t fancy any of them, which is the natural reaction they get. And I really didn’t, you know, they just kind of, did they, they made a few jokes. And, and then they just didn’t give a shit. And they were amazing. But I remember when someone called me something not very nice in the pitch. And there are three of them run over and, you know, was was was really defending me and I just thought, wow, you know, and it was I’m very lucky in that aspect. Because I know there’s a lot of there’s a lot of people in sports who don’t have that experience who have to hide who they are, especially in today’s culture. So I do feel very lucky in that in that aspect that I have been surrounded by people who for the most part have been amazing and they literally couldn’t give a shit.
K Anderson 15:00
No, that’s I mean that’s that’s lovely to hear. I’m not for this show though, because I you know, I’m trading on trauma here. You bring some more trauma up later on, but it’ll be really useful. And so, do you remember them the first time that you ever went to champ champers?
Craig Law 15:16
I do. And it’s only because I’ve met one of my other best friends, my, my good friend, Rob, who might be named checked. But so basically a mutual of us introduced me to rob and he was probably the first or the local guy I’d met. And oh,
K Anderson 15:35
oh, I’ve just remembered only gay in the village. Sorry, that’s not Oh, no, no, no, no, no,
no, no, that’s not show me my life. Hell for like, seven years. It was no, it’s fine. It’s just it’s just like I called David for like three years, you know, because he
K Anderson 15:52
only three years.
Craig Law 15:54
Well, you know, it gets put to bed thanks to Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Ed Sheeran, you know, new things come up. When you look like me and sound like the new things always come up.
K Anderson 16:05
Okay, anyway, so let’s move on. So he said there was another there was
Craig Law 16:09
another guy in the village. And basically, you know, he was cute. He was funny. And I always met the first time we met, I was like, Can I have your number? And him out of pure politeness gave it to me because none of us knew what we were doing. And, and then I sort of attacks going, Hey, you know, you’re gonna go out and bless his cotton socks. He sent me this essay. And I mean, there must have been noise back in the days when you only have like, 10 messages on your phone. And he must have sent me an essay that pretty much filled my phone, you know, you’ll be really cute. I mean, like, Look, I don’t see it that way. I don’t have the attraction. You know. Very cute, very lovely, very kind of diplomatic. You know, bless them, but it’s the most robbed thing in the world. You know, horrible.
K Anderson 16:54
It’s horrible. What do you get that message? No, you’re like, No, it wasn’t. But it’s like, how do I respond to this? Like, I can either be like, Oh, yeah, no, I don’t fancy you either. And then in which case, they’re gonna be like, oh, they’re just lying. Or you can be like, Oh, God, devastated. And then they’re gonna be like, Oh, well, I’ve got the upper hand. Obviously.
Craig Law 17:15
Yeah, I was devastated. But it was it was the nicest possible rejection you could ever have. I mean, if all my rejections were that nice, I’d be cool. I’d be fine.
K Anderson 17:25
But so anyone who’s listening, if you’re going to reject Craig, in the future, make sure you write an essay
Craig Law 17:31
1000 word essay, please. Don’t say he rejects me. And we just kept in touch because he was he was lovely. He has got a bad bone in his body. I’ve known him for 20 years. He has a good a bad bone in his body. Well, maybe not 20 years, but last year, whatever. But he decided to text me on Valentine’s Day. And he’s like, What are you up to? I was like, nothing. I’m single. And we live in, you know, South Wales, the gay desert of Britain. And he’s like, he’s like, should go to a gay bar. I was like, What is a gay bar? We’ve never been let’s go to a gay bar. And then we’re kind of like, Well, where is the nearest gay bar? And he was like, Oh, you know, what is there’s champers in Swansea, which was, you know, pretty infamous. But I’d never been I was too scared to go. So we just ended up going to Swansea and he was, it was the best night ever, not just because it was my first experience of an LGBT venue because I met one of my closest friends I met someone who’s practically family to me. And that is the start of the friendship. And we ended and we got you know, we got that friendship going in a gay bar, you know, we both breathed this new experience together. And it was it was it was like I said it was eye opening but it was it was incredible to be in a space where you You didn’t have to pretend to you and it was the first time for both of us.
K Anderson 18:52
And so so you said that you were scared of going on your own you were terrified of that was Rob like the person who was like we’re gonna do it and we’re going and this is just the way it is where you kind of cheering each other up to go
Craig Law 19:06
It was kind of a mix of both he was the one who was kind of like you know we need to do this you know we have to do this let’s just do this we can’t you know, we can’t be single forever We need to get out there and he’s very much been that guy again. He’s very much he puts himself out there he’s he wears his heart on his sleeve and it’s all great you know he’s one of the best people I know for that. But we we did have to do each other on because we’ve just kind of I remember we’re standing outside the door we were like really gonna do this. And you know we’re like a crisis do it and then you know, obviously we dealt with it the only way you know how drink
K Anderson 19:37
Okay, so before we get to the just describe that feeling to me like standing outside and trying to talk each other into going in.
Craig Law 19:47
Well, it was it was it was literally stepping into the unknown. You know, it was you have no idea what was on the other side and and champers used to have this kind of really Art Deco through it, you know, it had these clear glass blocks very 1960s. So you can kind of see what’s going on in the bar. But your mind is worrying. You know, you’ve you’ve passed it dozens of times. And you’ve always wondered God, I wonder what goes on and of course, if your stories but
K Anderson 20:16
you know what stories what stories of you regularly your brain,
Craig Law 20:21
what was it my brain was I was expecting to be in then it’d be just lots of really horrible nasty CD men given you know what I was told about what gay clubs were like. And of course, it couldn’t be further from the truth. It couldn’t be more further from the truth, you know. And again, it goes back to that small town mentality, that that, you know, that me and Rob grew up in. And we had no idea what was on the other side of the door, except that we knew we wanted to see it. We knew, you know, deep down if we were going to, to be ourselves, we had to do it. And, you know, screw whatever’s on the other side of the door. Not literally, but
K Anderson 20:57
thank you for clarifying. And so how long do you remember how long you were actually standing outside before you?
Craig Law 21:07
Were sorry, a couple of minutes. I mean, I’m trying not to make it a whole big dramatic life’s, you know, lifetime short movie, but it’s, it felt like a lifetime. It did because, you know, looking back is one of those decisions where, you know, in an alternate universe, I didn’t go through the door and I’m still this close to the guy unhappily married. But, you know, we did go through the door and, and it was it was amazing to be in this really friendly space. And that’s one thing I’ve always loved about the Welsh gay scene is how friendly it is. You know, I’m lucky to have played and dj’d and gone to a lot of really incredible scenes. But for me, the Welsh one is always the most welcoming and always the most friendly and I might be biased because I’m Welsh but it is and champers was like that he was he was literally like stepping on a new world. Okay,
K Anderson 21:55
so you’ve stepped into the new world. What happens when you go through the front door of the bar? Um
Craig Law 22:02
well in champers case and champers case used to be greeted by this really strange oval bar that’s smack bang in the middle of the room. So there’s literally no hiding because the bars in the middle of room everyone can kind of congregate around the bar. And there’s no hiding, there’s no escaping, you know, you walk in there and you’re kind of just like, oh my god, oh my god. And, and then within about an hour once you’ve you sank a couple of cheeky vodkas. You kind of just realised that, yeah, this is where you’re supposed to be. Because that’s, that’s, that’s, that’s the thing about champers. It really did make you feel is it was a pretty big venue. You know, probably the biggest in Swansea. I mean, there was a bigger one, but it shut down way before I got to go there. But it was pretty big, but it always felt like, like home, it just it was it was a great place to just kind of get your gay feet kind of in the water, you know? And, and so like, what
K Anderson 22:59
was the clientele like?
Craig Law 23:01
Well, that’s the thing it was, it was just a mix, it was just this, this, this, this eclectic mix. I mean, you had, you know, guys who were our age, you had guys who are much older, you had, you know, you had kind of the stereotypical feminine gaze, you had just, you know, the, the, you know, mask for mask muscle marries, you know, it was just a really eclectic mix. And that’s one of the things that made it amazing. And one of the things, you know, with very few exceptions, everyone was friendly, you know, you could go up and talk to them, if you’re sitting on your own by the bar, you know, because your friends pulled or you know, they’ve gone to the toilet, they’ll come and talk to you. They’d like, you know, they’ll want to know about you. And it wasn’t just a pick up line, you just always felt kind of at ease because of this eclectic mix of people. I think, you know, I’ve been in plenty of bars when I felt like a fish out of water because of the way I look and the the confidence I don’t have, but go into champers was the absolute best first experience I could have.
K Anderson 23:59
Oh, and you said before about like the room? Is that of their kind of place? Or was it was that all kind of born on the homophobia and their kind of belief that like, oh, if you’re gay, you’re gonna end up single and alone. So of course, that bar is just Oh, yeah, man. Just absolutely,
Craig Law 24:18
absolutely. I mean, that’s that I think that’s the thing that upset me most was the idea that because of who I am, that I was destined to be alone, those destined to be, you know, spoon by society, you know, like, I could never be a productive member of society. Like I could never be happy because that’s the way it was kind of sold to me. When I was growing up. You know, when I was really struggling, that’s the way we were kind of made to feel. And, and obviously, it’s very different now. Thank God. It’s very different now. But back then, it just it just felt like the worst news. I felt like you’ve just been given a terminal diagnosis for something. You know, that’s how bad it felt.
K Anderson 24:57
Well, yeah. Yeah. I mean, well, that was kind of The thing that went through every parent’s head for a while, wasn’t it like, oh, okay, he’s gonna get HIV, he’s gonna die or Oh, yeah, that doesn’t happen, then he’s just gonna be alone for the rest of his life. And that’s just terrible again. And
Craig Law 25:12
that’s something else that, you know, I mean, that’s run through my lives. And I gotta say, thank God for Russell T Davis. And it’s a sin right now, because thanks to that show, there’s going to be a generation of young gay people who have no idea who they are right now, or don’t have to go through what me and my friends had to go through, which was the utter horror of thinking that you’re destined to get HIV and die. You know, like so many before you, because that’s how I’m not being dramatic. That is literally how I felt I really did feel like I was I was just destined to, like you said, either either contract HIV and oh, or just be spooned by society and be alone forever end up, you know, sitting at the bar, on my own, you know, into paying for sex or something. I didn’t know the study was kind of sold. But you know, and
K Anderson 25:58
there’s a really weird, it’s just, it’s a really weird thing. Isn’t it? Like this whole generation of men who grew up just accepting, I don’t know, like, just kind of being like, wow, that’s what society is telling me. If I choose to be myself, this is what’s going to happen. I guess, I guess that’s what’s gonna happen. And like, that just really screws with your head, right? It
Craig Law 26:24
did. It really did. And it wasn’t until I got to actually see and witness firsthand for myself, what that life is like that I realised just how much bullshit I was told. happening. The people were telling me these things had no idea
K Anderson 26:38
at all. Did you Where did you not have any like residual, like hangover feeling even once? Even once that myth had been debunked? Um, no,
Craig Law 26:49
I genuinely think he was. It was like an awakening. It was like, you go to this environment, not knowing what to expect but expecting the worst. You know, it’s one of those hoping for the best but expecting for the worst kind of situations. Yeah. And I think spending time in there, especially doing it with someone like you know, like someone who’s not my best friend when it was someone I can trust to confide in and be my authentic self with. I think it just completely put the bed everything every single rumor at it, because I couldn’t you couldn’t have met lovely people to meet you couldn’t have met a nicer community would pull together to help you if you need it. You know, and that’s the way it was and I just had so many amazing times, in champers after that. And it was it was a learning experience. It was like a reeducation. You know, it’s like a reeducation, I was being taught that, you know, you have options, that is a life for you. You’re not destined to die lonely of HIV, you know, like, like, like the plague was being sold to you. By you know, by, you know, and the weed section 28 made you feel, you know, that there was a future you did have a place, it’s perfectly okay. You know, and it was all thanks to me, you know, my experience of going through those doors.
K Anderson 28:02
You know, Wow, that’s so powerful. I think I just, like, just hung on to that for a bit too long. Even when, or even if I was outwardly saying, well, that’s not the case. That’s not what’s happening. There was just so like, deeply embedded in my psyche that that kind of just stuck with me for a while. But but sorry, this isn’t about me. This is the other thing that I wanted to ask you is what do you normally do when your friends Paul?
Craig Law 28:36
Usually, nine times out of 10 i just i just i get drugged out I mean, that’s not a healthy thing. I mean, looking back I realised that there were probably better ways for me to deal with it. But it was all very kind of robbing dance, let me know and I’d be in the corner. And you know, and I think I’ve made peace with the fact that I’m not your, you know, your your stereotypical kind of type of guy, you know, I let’s just say I’m not gonna be known for my looks. I’m very okay with that. I’m okay with the way I’m okay with what I project I’m perfectly okay with that. I’ve made peace with the idea that when I walk into a room, I’m going to be pretty much anonymous. And and I like it that way, for the most part, but, you know, it’s, I remember going into a club, it wasn’t champers. But I will tell us that we were going to a club in Birmingham. I think it was nightingales which is an amazing club. And I was with a friend and he was obviously very Twinkie. Very good looking very skinny very what I considered a lot of gays were looking for back then when I wasn’t there was you know, chunky, you know, large and in charge and cetera, et cetera. And, and I remember we were talking and he literally got picked up. This guy picked him up, literally picked him up, and relocated my friend to his group. And I was kind of like, I wouldn’t have asked like, it’s like, it’s like, do you fucking mind He was like, Oh, you must be the funny one. And I was I was like, Well, yeah, but that’s my friend. We were having a conversation Fuck off. But then my friend was like, Oh, no, he’s really cute and yeah,
K Anderson 30:13
right. That’s okay. But and so then did your friend. Just go off with it? I know that’s not the point of the story. But I’m just getting outraged on your behalf. Did your friend like go off with this guy? Then after he did that to you
Craig Law 30:26
go? Yeah, yeah. I mean, I mean, there’s many reasons why we aren’t friends anymore. But, but I realised that I was kind of always cast as the funny one. I was always cast as,
K Anderson 30:39
Craig Law 30:40
You know, you see these really horrible movies. And they tell you that there’s always a friend in the group that’s there to make others look good. I felt like a friend. And I was just kind of there for convenience. I was there until he could find someone prettier to, you know, to hang out with.
K Anderson 30:57
That’s really should
Craig Law 30:58
I but since it’s just it’s not, you know, there’s that’s just not my experience. That’s, that’s a lot of people’s experience. And, and part of accepting, you know, being gay is accepting your, your place, I think. And, you know, I, obviously, it was devastated to realise that you were not the pretty one or you weren’t desired, but you kind of just realise Hang on, is that the quality is to be the way I look. And you just kind of make peace with that. And you just kind of go you know, what the right person comes along. And, and, you know, appreciates you as cliche as it is. So, you know, like I said, I’ve always liked I’m kind of anonymous, because I’m really, really shy to talk to people.
K Anderson 31:42
And I was always like, the moody one. Really. I was always like, so incapable of, like just talking to people like normally. So I think I was just I just came off as really aloof. And really, I didn’t know
Craig Law 32:01
oh, my God, that’s a sweetie. That’s the same. It’s literally the same for me. I mean, the number of times that people say to me Oh, I thought you were a dick when I first met you, because they meet me and I’m just like, I shrivel up. You know, when I meet new people, I just shrivel up. I mean, I’ve been lucky to play to crowds of like, 15,000 that huge brain events. But the idea of clocking another guy’s across the bar and going up to him and talking to him is literally my worst nightmare. I cannot do it. And all amount of jack daniels on this planet can make that happen. It’s my worst fear. I just can’t do it. So when people meet me, I’m just this this this really kind of, I do come off as ignorant. I know. But you know, once I’ve loosened up and got to know someone, I you know, I become myself. And then they’re like, I saw you in a deck the first time great.
K Anderson 32:47
And it’s, it’s horrible, isn’t it? It’s like, it’s you don’t want to make a fool of yourself. So you just end up just not saying anything?
Craig Law 32:56
Yeah, exactly. I mean, the thing is, I mean, I have verbal diarrhoea. I have this innate ability that when I do say something I do. My God. Yeah, I just I just do I have I have the most. Honestly, I have no game at all. I have none at all. I mean, they could talk a good game on the radio, but you put me in a club, and I’m just yeah, just No, no, it’s it’s awful. I’m an example of what not to do when you want to pull in a clutch. Yeah,
K Anderson 33:22
I think like maybe one in every 10 people think I’m hilarious. And then everyone else is just like, What the fuck are you talking about? I yeah, so it just kind of learned to just be like, well, I’ll just say nothing.
Craig Law 33:34
See, and this is why I love being a DJ because now I get to be in the club. I get to be in the party, but I’m protected in my own little bubble that is x. And
K Anderson 33:43
I’ve got purpose you’ve got something to do.
Craig Law 33:46
And I’m being paid for it which is equally great. But it’s also unprotected as a bubbling usually got a bouncer next to me, I don’t have to be social. I’m too busy. To be expected to be social. I’m just there to press play, get drunk and get the party going. And I love it. There’s
K Anderson 34:00
there’s the power as well. Isn’t there like, Oh, you want me to play your song to you?
Craig Law 34:05
I do love that. I mean that they don’t love that they’re lying this soul like it is it is great, especially with someone really cute comes and asks you, you know, so you like when somebody’s been clogging eyes on you like oh, yeah, definitely like that. And then they come and ask you for a song nine times out of 10 for the past two years, it’s been Ariana Grande D for some reason. Every day. I like like Sarah Grundy? I don’t know, it’s weird. But the two of us Ariana Grande. I was like, well, I could play for you a gas, you know. But it’s, it’s it’s one of those things but you know, it comes with the territory. And I think that’s, you know, and again, that’s another evolution of you being comfortable in, in gay bars is just feeling like I had a place because nine times out of 10 you know, you know, if you want to get your little violin out you can but nine times out of 10 I don’t if I’m not behind the box in a DJ, you know, in a bar. I just don’t feel you know, it’s a lot of bars. I don’t feel comfortable in because I just feel like they’re looking at me and they Kind of going oh, God was that?
K Anderson 35:02
I don’t think that that’s an unusual response. No, I think a lot of people do. And I wanted to keep asking about about when your friends Paul, because I never I could never figure out what to do.
Craig Law 35:15
And again, this goes back to the beauty of a club like champers, you know, like, like, like a lot of great gay bars and gay clubs. Even if your friends Paul, sometimes you just, you just don’t care because you’re just having such a good time. You know, and, and I think when you’re out with a group of gays, your gay friends or your gay wing man, wherever you just learned to accept that, you know, it’s happened to be loads of times, and I’ve just learned to get drunk and you know, just just have a little party on my own. And, you know, sometimes it ends up on me sticking a deal on in bed and cry my eyes out. But in other times, you just, you’re just having a great time, and you get to meet good people. And I remember in Grand Canyon, my friend left me in the middle of tap us because we pulled some hot muscle Daddy, and I got adopted by these lesbians on the table next to me. So, you know, and they were funny, we had a great night, but you know it, I think it’s all those things that it just kind of happens, I’ve just kind of learned that it happens, and there’s a way to deal with it. And that is just don’t let it ruin your night and understand that. You know that your friends are gonna come back with a damn good story the next day.
K Anderson 36:23
Well, yeah, and possibility for adventure goes up when you’re on your own. So you’re not showing up shackled to another person. But um, yeah, sometimes it’s like, I really can’t be bothered talking to new people today. And so so let’s go back to champion champions. And I always want to call it Chairman pose.
Craig Law 36:45
I think that’s a common thing. I think. I think a lot of people did start saying champers, but it’s named after champagne, I’m told Yeah, anyway. But being champers was always the bar that was always I was always kind of there that was there for years and years and years on Swansea’s High Street literally down the road from the train station. I always remember, you know, trying to be all clandestine, coming from the train station, you know, who the people are gonna see me get into this game. And then near the end, you just, you just end up not giving a shit? You know, confidence comes from going there a lot of the time. One of the best things that I champers was this kind of, they had this outdoor area, you know, and it was always a smoking area. And, again, that was just one of those bits where you just go outside, and you’d always go and get the gas from your friends. You know, they’d be like, because I mean, I don’t smoke. So I just I used to hang around and just just just get the gossip everywhere. Yeah, but it wasn’t like you split off into these groups, you’d go out there, and then other people would join in the conversation. And then you’d be like, introduce yourselves and you just, you’re just you give us like a community. It was it was it was it was really felt like that. And I think, you know, there’s not many LGBT spaces where that atmosphere exists today because it’s people are very much trying to keep themselves to themselves. I missed her. I do I miss that’s one of the things I miss about having a gay scene on my doorstep. You know, the main news gay club now is is in Cardiff and it’s a it’s a pretty good gay club. But there was something about champers. There was just something about all the bars on High Street, you know, because that was the pretty much the centre of Swansea’s gay scene back then was high street. He was literally down the road from the central train station. And you had champers you had hush you had the Kings you had talked to the town was another one you know and they all had their little quirks they all had their regulars they all had different approaches to nights and you know and depending on what kind of mood you’re in, you’ve got to talk in the town for karaoke, you go to the Kings for drag queens and games you got to champers for, you know loud music and drinks and and it is such a shame that a city his biggest ones he you know that the gay scene was decimated because it at one point I think it was the best in Wales. I mean Cardiff was is pretty special. But but it was something about champers and the Swansea, gay cielo and maybe I’m biased, maybe it’s rose tinted glasses. But there was just something about it. And it’s a real shame that there’s an entire generation maybe two generations of people now that won’t get to have that kind of experience that me and my friends had of Governor champers and feeling a part of something that was bigger than yourself.
K Anderson 39:30
Did you ever go to champers? Well if you did, I would love to hear from you. Find me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc etc. With the user name K Anderson music. Reach out and tell me your anecdotes and show me photos and just tell me what you’ve got up to there. And whilst you’re at it, go and give Craig some love on social media. You can listen to his email@example.com slash DJ Craig law. And you can also find him on Twitter with the same user name DJ Craig law. 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 year. You can hear the first single well grim boys, which is also playing underneath my talking right now on all good 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.