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  • Writer's pictureSimon Walton

The Corset Club High Tea - that’s high camp in all the best ways


New, in Glasgow's Merchant City

Helen, a trendier than her years confidant, and fellow high tea-er, performed a stylish sashay into the sumptuous faux black leather bench seating, set at right angles to the view straight down Wilson Street. It's hot outside, sweltering hot, but the characteristically wonky glass of the Georgian lights make the Victorian colonnades seem to melt their way down toward Glasgow Green.


Inside: it's cool as flip. We’d stepped over the threshold that still boasts itself to be Jacobean Corsetry, in a sign too proud to be removed. There’s even a blue plaque on the wall, extolling the virtues of Virginia Court, this historic location within Glasgow’s Merchant City where, with a little sashay yersel, you’ll find yourself entering the discrete doorway of The Corset Club, lengthily describing itself as Glasgow’s LGBTQ+ Cocktail Lounge and Show Bar.


Now, it may be the heat, but I prefer to think it was the day after the night before, that gave us an extensive choice of seating. Eurovision has a bit of a reputation for appealing to a certain part of the world community, So, finding that Nemo had won with a song filled with a bit of everything - rock, rap, opera and opulence, probably left everybody feeling a bit less glamourous on this Sunday afternoon in May.

High Tea and Cocktails

Now, let’s deal with the elephant in the room (and I’m not referring to the 2013 entry from Montenegro). It’s this. You don’t have to be gay, straight, bi, or anything else to enjoy, and be enjoyed, at The Corset Club. People know me. I’m more of a binary dinosaur, but I’ve also been in a Village People tribute act (a tool belt from work came in handy) and the only Minogue for me is Dannii (you DM, you only have to put the needle on it and still, We Could Be The One). So, before you think you’re too low brow for not high camp high tea at Glasgow’s brandest newest safe place to be yourself, it’s time to reconsider your options to include The Corset Club. 


Now, if you’re expecting to wander backstage at RuPaul’s Drag Race, think again. The fashionably back street boys of the Corset Club are hidden from the white-hot heat of Merchant City’s main drag, but then drag is not what it’s all about this Sunday afternoon into evening. As Greig welcomed us to the seven-week-old venue for food drink and entertainment, that sweltering hot Sunday was instantly cooled by the chilled tones of Tilted, by Christine and the Queens wafting lazily from the in your ear, not in your face - sound system. Conversation is encouraged.


So, undistracted by the bi-lingual Christine, what better way to start than with the Challenge Grieg Challenge? Never mind the extensive cocktail list. Awkward customers like us always have something else in mind. So Challenge Greig in a sort of Challenge Anneka for Grownups sort of way. Make it as difficult as you like. His mixication skills are dangerously good, and how welcome was my strawberry mojito - minus the rum, just to be awkward … again. Then, it’s down to the new Sunday signature of Be Yourself High Tea … and Toast. Yes, toast. Branded toast - branded with The Corset Club logo baked into the bread.


Pizza from sister venue and neighbour Nonna Said

Expect Scottish tea time standards on a cake stand: caramel logs and Tunnock’s tea cakes, along with crumpets and strawberries, and a selection of sweet condiments that say “so long, diet”. No kitchen -no problem. Next door is the simply scrumptious Nonna Said, and - lucky you - they have a collaboration bringing their rather special pizza-based menu to you too. Pizza? Lasagne? Can’t choose? No problem. Five minutes later, delivered to our table is a Pizza Lasagne - or is that a Lasagne Pizza? Like the custom mocktails, vegan versions are available. Either way, it’s a mix as melodic as the vocals of Zjawa, your regular Sunday songstress (other nights are available). Yes, live on stage with accompaniment from the orchestra pit (well, from her faithful laptop via that sound system), she sashays silkily through her laid-back treatment of a repertoire of smooth classics from Etta James to PJ Harvey. Even Chris Isaak would fall off his surfboard at her interpretation of Wicked Game.

I’m a kid in a sweet shop.


The Corset Club is not a bar. It’s not a gay bar. It’s not a cafe bar, revue bar, or speakeasy place to eat, drink, chat and relax. It’s all of the above and more - and with live entertainment. 


The obvious conclusion: after a visit to the Corset  Club - you’ll feel trendier than your years, cool as flip, and just ready to be yourself - or ‘yersel’ - as might be heard among the colonnades, all the way to Glasgow Green.


The Corset Club - The Jacobean Building, 49-53 Virginia Street, Merchant City, Glasgow -

Be Yourself High Tea on Sundays: £10 pp with doors opening at 12 pm





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