We’re at the start of a new year, and if you’ve been thinking of taking your theoretical kinky interests into bricks and mortar for the first time, a pretty good place to do it is the Birmingham Bizarre Bazaar.
There are several ways to enter the queer and kinky scene in England, but for those of us outside London, BBB is an institution. The market costs £5, and the play event afterwards, Aftermath, is another £10 if you buy your ticket at BBB, £12 on the door.
Getting to the venue
Central Birmingham isn’t flat, but it does have good pavements, and even a couple of lifts in and around the Bull Ring to help you get from one level to another. BBB is held in The Nightingale Club, which is a gay club in the Birmingham Gay Village. There isn’t a single clear route from either the train or coach stations to the venue, but after extensive personal testing, I can confirm that Google Maps definitely knows where the club is, and that the GPS in the city centre is fine tuned enough that you can just follow the app.
Annoyingly, the main entrance to the venue, although itself flat, doesn’t allow wheelchair access to the main part of the venue, which is up a short flight of stairs. The entrance is well signed, and the staff have always been helpful with getting me to the wheelchair accessible entrance. There is a bit of a lip from the pavement, but it’s about an inch, and certainly no worse than many kerbs. This wheelchair entrance is the same one used by the traders to load in and out, and also operates as a fire exit.
There is a lift to connect the three floors over which the event takes place, but it is awful. It’s a cargo lift, one of those where you need to press the button continuously to keep moving. It’s not very big. And worst of all, the doors on all three floors need to be held closed by venue staff in order for the lift to keep moving. This means that, sadly, going from one floor to another is a Big Deal, and you do need to get the event staff to help. The upper floors are worth it, but you’ll want to plan things so you change floors as little as possible. (There is a good disabled toilet on the ground floor, but the toilets on the top floor are standard and don’t have good access.) The good news is that the staff at the venue are entirely aware that their lift sucks ass, and don’t make a fuss about beating their obstinate machinery into submission!
Is great! There are so many awesome traders with a broad range of kinky gear. There’s stuff for beginners all the way to experienced adrenaline kinksters. Importantly, unlike buying online, being there at the event will mean you can test out using the equipment, and see how things function. For example, I like to test floggers and other impact tools on my arm, not only to see what the effect is, but also how firm the grip is, how heavy it is to swing, and how likely my butterfingers are to lose grip. The same for anything with buttons – I need to know that I can turn something off easily, if I suddenly take a turn and my dexterity falls through the floor. For those of us whose bodies work in non-standard and sometimes very variable ways, being able to actually test out a buckle, and try things out, is invaluable.
Sadly, on the ground floor there is a section of the market on a mezzanine which is not wheelchair accessible. I can’t tell you what’s up there, but from what I’ve been able to see it’s mostly clothes.
One thing to be aware of is that a significant number of the traders are not able to take card payments, so you’ll need to bring cash, just in case that perfect body harness is cash only, and you can’t imagine another day without it!
The part of the day which I enjoy the most is the play event after the market. Each month on the top floor there’s a demonstration of something kinky and fun, and then the area gets set up for play of various kinds. The staff will ask punters to go elsewhere for the switchover to the club. I’ve been able to stay up on the top floor on one of the sofas before by talking with the staff, because it’s such a mission to get the lift down and back up again. However, the time between the two events also makes for a good opportunity to get some food, and there are lots of places to eat in the surrounding streets.
As for the adaptiveness of play? It really depends on the equipment they choose to put out. Basically you have to work with what you get, and because there’s not a huge amount of it, getting time on the equipment can turn into a bit of a scrum, although people step back once it’s clear who will and won’t be playing. There are plenty of places to watch though, and I’ve never had any issues with getting people to give me space to move or to come forward for a better view.
In summary, the BBB is not perfect. The venue isn’t the best for wheeled access, and there are some challenges. However, the hype is real, and it’s a great place to go start or continue your kinky journey.
If you would like to support my work, please buy me a ko-fi