Club F.O.D at The Blagrave

The FOD Squad at The Blagrave ArmsClub F.O.D began life as a community led monthly social event for the LGBT+ community which took place at The Blagrave Arms in Reading on the last Saturday of every month. It was formed to provide a regular and accessible dedicated safe-space for the LGBT+ Community. Many towns and cities do not have dedicated gay bars or gay clubs for the LGBT+ community to meet and socialise and unlike geographical isolation, social isolation experienced by LGBT+ people is less obvious and more difficult to escape.

Each Club F.O.D night would have an advertised theme and although not mandatory, the theme would encourage people to dress up! Club F.O.D Nights at The Blagrave soon became one of the most popular nights of the month and attracted people from across Berkshire!

Then the pandemic changed everything!

For obvious reasons, our events have not been taking place. In between lockdowns, we moved to a weekly event at The Blagrave to ensure that our safe-space continues and we look forward to returning to our full glory at some point.

The promotion of social inclusion is enshrined in everything that we do at our physical events:

Every individual that attends is greeted by a Door Host that introduces themselves and welcomes people to the event. They provide a brief explanation of the event and a reminder that it is a dedicated LGBT+ night.

Floor Hosts (also known as the FOD Squad) mingle and make sure that everyone attending is spoken to and when possible connecting anyone on their own to others attending. They solicit feedback, promote future events and distribute contact cards and leaflets as well as shaking collection buckets.

Like many venues or events, we have a DJ who makes announcements and controls the visuals that attendees see on the TV screens. This includes information about LGBT+ services as well as details of any future events and activities. A game (usually hosted by a drag queen) also usually take place during the evening.

It’s here at The Blagrave Arms that we have been developing the event so that it can become a blueprint to be rolled out elsewhere across the UK.

As we navigate the road map out of lockdown, Club F.O.D will hold events every Saturday at The Blagrave: our usual club nights on the last Saturday of the month and smaller 'FOD-Lite' events on the other Saturdays. That means Saturday has really become SaturGAY!

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  • Jamie Wake