25 April 2013

Southside, Birmingham

Birmingham gets me! There's one part of the city that I really connect with and that's Southside! Home to Birmingham's Chinatown and Gay Village I just can't get enough of that good food and a sense of pride! Everybody loves the theatre with the Hippodrome taking centre stage within Birmingham's Southside. Let's see why this part of Birmingham is my favourite!

Birmingham's Hippodrome Theatre hosts a magnitude of performances which range from pantomime right through to ballet. Standing on Hurst Street, bordering three of the integral parts of Southside Birmingham. I've seen numerous performances at this establishment, like the revamped version of the musical 'Starlight Express'. The Hippodrome Theatre always attracts the best names for its annual Christmas panto. 2010 brought Hollywood glamour to the Hippodrome in the form of 'Joan Collins' as the panto villain in the pantomime favourite 'Dick Whittington'. Another famous face to tread the boards for pantomime at the Hippodrome was actor 'John Barrowman'. I missed seeing a panto when I lived in the U.S., so I'm looking forward to December!

Going to the theatre has to be one of my favourite things to do, its great because an evening at the theatre doesn't leave me with a horrendous hangover! I'm looking to mix things up this semester by being a little bit more cultured, those nights on the tiles are getting all the same as I've been in Birmingham for almost three years now! I have booked my tickets to see Birmingham Royal Ballet's upcoming performance of 'Copellia' for an evening early in June. It's clear to see that Birmingham really does have it all! The Birmingham Royal Ballet have been wowing audiences for a number of years at the Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre and all in the confides of Southside! The West End has its charms but Southside keeps everything central for that post theatre drink or meal! On with the show!

Ni Hao! East meets West in Southside! Choose Day Inn Supermarket to caters to my Oriental shopping needs, from vacuum packed chicken's feet to loose leaf Po-Nee and Oolong teas. Forget Tesco or Asda because these supermarkets do it better, I have seen things that amazed me! My dear friend Kelly opened my eyes to this supermarket. Keep to Cathay Street for Caffe Chino, this Oriental bakery serves the best Oriental cakes I have ever tasted. Taking me back to the crazy streets of Chinatown NYC I look forward to each visit to Birmingham best Oriental cafe. Thanks for taking me back to NYC! Listening to the Mandarin conversations is always an interesting affair because that Chinese language sounds crazy! Getting away from the student crowd makes things better because not a lot of my fellow uni kids know what delights Cathay Street has to offer. No kidding I'm all for that Oolong brew Brum!

Call me stupid but the Arcadian really has it all, I'm always happy with what I get when I visit this complex of shopping, dining and entertainment in Birmingham's Southside! When Chinese New Year is celebrated the Arcadian comes alive with a range of colourful and authentic displays that bring the Chinese New Year in perfectly! I'm definitely going to be celebrating one Chinese New Year in the Arcadian for sure! There's plenty of places to eat but let's keep quiet about that part for now. Well I heard Indi Bar is a good place to go on the weekends? When the sun goes down 'Arcadian' starts the party, I can remember one of the bar crawls I went on during my second year at university in Birmingham. The Arcadian is cool but like I mentioned before I'm all about Cathay Street but I'll always give Arcadian some thought because it makes Southside tick! Don't get this twisted but its all about Bubble Tea, Oriental cakes and a Chinese ASDA keeps things Arcadian real for me! Go!

Dinner has been served! Southside, Birmingham is home to the city's Chinese Quarter. Birmingham's Chinese Quarter brings a healthy slice of eastern promise, there's just something about these communities that I love! Southside certainly has the perfect blend of ingredients to be my favourite Birmingham district. This avenue of beautiful restaurants and Oriental amenities has everything you need for the perfect time in Southside. Sing your heart out at karaoke, try you luck at a spot of gambling or enjoy a sumptuous meal at one of the many restaurants within the quarter. I sampled the delights of Chung Ying, a family run Cantonese restaurant, located on the corner of Wrottesley Street in the heart of Brum's Chinese heart. Hao!

Choosing to try some Dim Sum I opted for the Chicken's Feet in Black Bean Sauce, having never tried this dish I was pleasantly surprised by the infusion of tastes from the Chicken's Feet. For my main course I enjoyed Sweet and Sour King Prawn with Egg Fried Rice, a sweet but flavoursome twist to my usual Oriental dining choice. Chung Ying is very good value for money and certainly satisfies those taste buds! Living in Birmingham has allowed me to see more parts of the city like Southside, after my Industrial Placement I know its given a sense of adventure.  I can't wait to have another meal at Chung Ying Birmingham, or maybe somewhere else within Southside? Yes, I have a lot to thank Kelly for when it comes to my love of Dim Sum! I know I'll visit China! Does Southside sound good?

In my eyes I have saved the best until last! Southside's Gay Village is made up of a range of colourful Gay orientated bars, nightclubs and restaurants. If I want to paint the city Pink then this side of town is for me! Pictured to the right is the Village Inn, a all-singing and all-dancing Drag Gay Club. If only for one night you must come to the Village Inn to work it on the dancefloor and have a laugh at the superb Drag Acts that perform weekly. I frequent Birmingham's Gay Scene on most Friday and Saturday nights, I can safely say that each visit tends to be an eventful state of affairs. It was just last Friday night that I enjoyed a camptastic night at The Village Inn. I shamelessly grooved to my kind of anthems, but when the DJ played one of Destiny's Child's anthems that made me turn the party up some more! I think I could get used to working it to some 'Survivor' on a Friday at The Village Inn more often! Yes, Southside!

I have to be honest that spending time within the Gay Village in Southside at the beginning of my university experience opened my eyes to a part of my life that was just about to make an appearance. I had been curious about the sights of Hurst Street before I moved to Birmingham in September 2010 for destiny was trying to tell me something, it doesn't need be spelt out what I mean but I'm thankful for the nights I had at venues such as the Village Inn, Nightingales and Missing Bar for its reaffirmed that once sneaking suspicion into my colourful and exciting life that I enjoy to the fullest. I can remember during my first semester at university myself and my fresher friends watched the Vengaboys perform their anthems and unveil their comeback song, for many reasons it was certainly a night to remember! Birmingham Pride takes a hold of Hurst Street each year during the May Bank Holiday weekend, I'm determined to enjoy that event before I graduate! A celebration!

Southside... You know It makes sense!

Joseph Harrison

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