Based on reports from our friends who have been there, as well as the grim scenes outside it on a typical Saturday night, we expected to hate The New Penny. Surprisingly, we didn’t. Once you get through the front door, past the mayhem that is Call Lane, you actually find a fun and lighthearted dance club.
There’s a sizable dance floor just to the left of the bar, and on the night we went the DJ was playing a string of 80s classic pop hits. There’s a back room also, but the lack of seating suggests they expect most of the space to be used for dancing. And with the mixed crowd, I reckon most people would feel comfortable and welcome regardless of age or sexuality. It’s definitely not just a gay men’s bar, at least not any more.
True to the form of other LGBT bars in Leeds, however, the beer is dreadful. Kronenbourg, Fosters, Stella and John Smith’s on keg. Coors Light, Becks, Corona and lots of alcopops in the fridge. We hit the happy hour bogof offer, so enjoyed two Coors Lights for £3.40. (And… we actually didn’t hate the Coors Light; don’t tell anyone!)
According to its Wikipedia article, The New Penny is the longest continually running gay bar in the UK, having started as the Hope and Anchor in 1953. There is still a slight “old man’s pub” element about it — a bit hard to pin down, but it’s there.
They usually don’t open until 7 or 8pm, so check their Facebook page for exact opening hours if you’re planning a visit. And be sure to wear your dancing shoes!