Showbiz Club

Described by Gay News as “large, scruffy and bawdy” the Showbiz Club opened in 1967, an after-hours nightspot for Cardiff’s entertainment community. It was destroyed by fire in January 1978.

The Showbiz Club was the brainchild of Egyptian-born entrepreneur Annis Abraham. With venues such as Discs A’Gogo, the Sphinx and Cleoptra’s he brought a dash of West End glitz to Cardiff’s nightlife. The Showbiz, which opened in 1967, occupied the first floor of Cleopatra’s, which had opened the previous year. Initially intended to serve Cardiff’s entertainment community “in the extremely odd hours when they’re not working”, in 1968 it was leased to flamboyant gay impresario Lenny Lancaster. An issue of Gay News from 1976 described it as “very large, scruffy and bawdy – its bar like a tombola stall, jam-packed with past, present and future drag show posters, dirty postcards, and poems singing the praises of the Showbiz Club.” Though a popular and well-remembered venue, the Showbiz Club was sadly destroyed by fire in January 1978.

“The first club, the Showbiz, was opened next door to the Glastonbury Arms and was owned by Lenny Lancaster from Senghenydd. Very discreet, you went upstairs and knocked a door with a small flap that opened and if they knew you then in. If not then out.”

“The Showbiz Club was owned by a local character named Lenny Lancaster who ran it with his partner. Lenny was very flamboyant and his club attracted gay people of both sexes as well as punk rockers. There was very little trouble at the club – the doorman, or bouncer, was a fearsome local man who was reputed to have serious connections with London gangs.”