Into The Cellar is a feature length documentary and VR experience about the legendary Gateways Club and guess what? You could be in it…


A double film project about the legendary Gateways Club is in early production and filmmaker Lucie Warrington is looking for expressions of interest in two important areas. 

“We will be producing two films about the Gateways Club, one will be a feature length documentary and the other a VR experience, both of which will tell stories of women who visited the club during the 60s, 70s and 80s,” Lucy explains.

“We have filmed four interviews with women to date and we’re looking for more people with a connection to the Gateways to talk to on camera. It’s important that we are able to portray the truly diverse mix of women who visited the Gates over the years as well as recording memories of people no longer with us.” 

A painting of the Gateways from the mid 50s by member Muriel Mellors

The project began with the germ of an idea sparked from a conversation in a pub in Leeds with a fellow member of a writing group Lucie is part of. 

“Andrew told a fascinating story one night of this amazing club his mother used to go to in the 60s and 70s, he spoke about his mum (who had come out when he and his brother were little) and Gina and Smithy, and I was hooked! 

“Looking into it further, I realised there was very little out there visually about the Gateways with the exception of the famous scene in The Killing Of Sister George. 

The Killing Of Sister George

“Jill Gardiner’s book and Gina Ware (the daughter of owners Gina and Ted Ware) have been invaluable with my research up to now, but I felt I wanted to create a record on film of this socially important place while there are still people around who remember it.” 

“We all knew we had to go into cellars which were hidden from the outside world”

Sandy Martin as quoted in From The Closet To The Screen – Women at The Gateways Club, 1945 – 1985 by Jill Gardiner 

Lucie co-runs a video production company in Leeds so it was a natural step to make a documentary. But the fact her company had been venturing into virtual reality projects as well gave her the idea of also creating a VR experience. 

“The plan for the VR experience is to recreate the club as a set, fill it full of extras – with special casting for Gina and Smithy of course – and film in 360 film so viewers can experience the atmosphere while listening to stories of women who visited.” 

Lucie adds: “The feature length documentary will be more in-depth interviews with women who went to the Gateways, exploring how important this place was at the time, what it meant to them and the experience of being there.” 

The Gateways Club was run unwaveringly as a place without judgement and without politics; from its early days in the 40s and 50s welcoming diversity and minorities of all kinds, to the late 60s as it became female only and the most famous lesbian club in Europe, and finally to its closing weekend in the mid 80s. 

A night at the Gateways, recreated for DIVA’s 25th anniversary issue in April 2019
Photo by Linda Blacker

While these films will be a celebration of a place which was an exciting and mysterious safe-haven for women to meet, dance and be themselves, it will also explore the obstacles and conflicts which were present during this time period, namely the public attitude to lesbians (and women in general). 

The two films will sit together as an audio-visual record of a unique place from the past, the women’s stories creating a vivid picture of lesbian lives during a period of social transformation. 

The ultimate home for the films will be in forthcoming LGBTQ+ museum Queer Britain, and there are also plans for screenings at Pride and other LGBTQI+ events. 

If you have memories of The Gateways and want to be interviewed, or if you are interested in being an extra in the VR experience, please contact Lucie at or on Twitter @GatewaysFilm.

Only reading DIVA online? You’re missing out. For more news, reviews and commentary, check out the latest issue. It’s pretty badass, if we do say so ourselves. // //

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