BURTON'S nightlife scene becomes a little more diverse tonight with the opening of the town's latest gay nightspot.
Bar Blush, which bills itself as 'Burton's funkiest new gay and gay-friendly bar', has taken over the site last occupied by Minnesota's pool club, in the New Street car park.
The bar - previously The Attic and The Continental Club - threw its doors open to the public at an open day yesterday, while tonight's official opening night will see a packed house enjoying performances from 80s 'hi-NRG' legend Hazell Dean and drag act Doctor Beverley Ball Crusher.
The all-ticket event is a sell-out, evidence that the demand is there for a gay venue in Burton, according to the bar's co-owner, Peter Riley.
"Because there aren't any gay places in Burton at the moment, word has spread like wildfire," he said.
"Demand has been phenomenal and we sold out of tickets for tonight's event days ago." Bar Blush follows in the footsteps of two other Burton venues - The Crown and Anchor (now the Wetmore Whistle) and The Appleby - which for a time attempted to carve out a niche catering to the gay market.
Both ventures proved to be short-lived, but Mr Riley is confident his bar is much better equipped to become a long-term fixture in the town.
"The thing about Bar Blush is that it is a purpose built venue - everything is brand new," he said. "It's not just a run-down pub turned gay for cheap rent."
Mr Riley has been able to call upon his years of experience in the leisure industry - he used to run a chain of bingo halls and is a former owner of Pinocchio's Italian restaurant in High Street - to get the new business up and running.
The venue was 'just a shell' when he, along with co-owners Adam Barker and Paul Aldred, took possession of it.
After six weeks of renovation work it has been transformed into a stylish, modern venue with regular bar, dancefloor area with brand new disco lights and sound system, and 'funky leather seats'.
After tonight's sell-out event, entry to the bar, which will open seven days a week, will be free of charge, with opening times catering according to demand.
"We're going to suck it and see," says Mr Riley. "But we will be open every day from noon until late."
At present, gay and lesbian revellers from Burton have to travel to venues such as Curzons, in Derby, or Nottingham's NG1, but Mr Riley hopes the new bar will reverse that trend and attract punters from outside Burton, as well as catering to his home-town market.
"At the moment a lot of people go out of town for a night out," he says. "Why should they have to pay all that money to go to Derby, or drive over there and not drink, when they have this on their doorstep?"