Courtesy of Nick Blumenthal. Courtesy of locations.
Rod Thomas -- a.k.a. Bright Light Bright Light -- continues to hook us with his melodic, '80s-inspired electro-pop anthems. The Welsh-born singer's third album, Choreography, released in July, finds him reunited with his former tour mate Sir Elton John and performing alongside Alan Cumming and Scissor Sisters' Jake Shears. Though he's now based in Brooklyn, Thomas has fond memories of Wales, a continuous source of inspiration for him. "Swansea, its second-largest city, is in one of the most incredible locations," he says of the place where he grew up. "It has some of the cleanest beaches in Britain, and they're really, really special." Here, Thomas's favorite spots back home for taking in the view, picking up new music, and decking the halls with drag queens.
1. Castellamare "This Italian restaurant is perched on a cliff where you can see out onto the bay and across the city. The food has been consistently good since I was a child, and the view on a clear day or evening is amazing. The Mumbles is the area that spans between the restaurant and the city itself. It has lots of character -- there's even a little castle!" Bracelet Bay, Mumbles Rd.; Castellamare.co.uk
2. Fairyhill Hotel and Restaurant "In the beautiful Gower Peninsula is this tucked-away gem, a gay-friendly restaurant and hotel in a gorgeous part of the countryside. The food and staff are lovely. It's a fantastic retreat." Reynoldston SA3 1BS; Fairyhill.net
3. Maritime Quarter "The marina used to be home to a big local gay club in the '90s and 2000s called H2O. Though it's now a Chinese restaurant, the rest of the marina has been spruced up to include Grape & Olive, a restaurant and bar on the top floor of a huge tower that looks out over the whole bay." SwanseaMarina.org.uk
4. Derrick's Records "I went to school and played my first gigs in Swansea and bought most of my music from this shop, which is still going strong. It has lots of rarities among the new releases and gives a good taste of the music scene in the city." 221 Oxford St.; DerricksMusic.co.uk
5. La Parrilla "A Mediterranean restaurant just over the footbridge from the marina with a lovely atmosphere and a lot of delectable choices. It's located in the SA1 development, which revamped the seaside of this part of Swansea." 5, J Shed, Kings Rd.; LaParrilla.co.uk
6. The Kings Arms Tavern and Champers Wine Bar "These are two of the gay bars left in Swansea. The Kings Arms Tavern is known for its drag queens and karaoke nights -- I spent a lot of Christmas Eves out there! Champers is an alternative spot that's more of a bar than a pub. It's easy to float between the two, as they're located along the same stretch of road." The Kings Arms Tavern, 26 High St.; Champers Wine Bar, 210 High St.
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