The Stage Club was Oxford’s first official gay venue during the late 1970s. Situated on the corner of George St and Victoria Court, next to the Apollo (now New Theatre), the venue traded as the Clarendon tea rooms by day, transforming into ‘70s gay disco glory by night. Required by law to serve food as well as alcohol, punters were given numbered tickets upon arrival which later entitled them to a meal, usually bangers and mash. According to The Cherwell (5 Nov 1976): ‘At the Stage Club, there is a disco every night for Gays, and although non-University people are in the majority, students are equally welcome. The rumours of hustlers, orgies, fights and raids by the National Front are totally spurious and are perhaps further indications of anti-Gay feeling in Oxford.’ The Stage Club closed within months of the opening of the first Coven on Oxpens Rd.
Image: This vintage photograph shows the Clarendon Cafeteria (the sign of which is just visible beneath the first-floor window) opposite the Apollo / New Theatre. Photograph courtesy of Images & Voices, Oxfordshire County Council (photographer unknown).