Birmingham first grew to prominence in the 18th century when it was at the heart of the industrial revolution. Sadly severe bombing during WWII marred some of its Regency and Victorian magnificence but today it is still recognised as a major international commercial centre.
The central drinking scene here is remarkably compact. Gas Street, so named because it was the first road in the city to be illuminated by gas light, runs alongside Birmingham's main canal and connects three of the city's nightlife hubs. At one end lies the Mailbox, a new development which houses designer shops, boutiques and the Malmaison hotel. Behind this, overlooking the canal, is a plethora of bars and restaurants. Walk along Gas Street and you will hit Broad Street just after it crosses the canal. Pretty much every other doorway on either side of the canal is a bar. Across Broad Street, and still parallel to the canal, is Brindley Place, a complex of restaurants, bars and offices. There must be more bars per square mile here than in any other part of the UK and come the end of the week they are all packed with revellers. Unfortunately most places are branded chains which stack 'em high and sell 'em cheap.
Like most decent-sized cities, Birmingham has its own gay village, set on and around Hurst Street to the south of the centre. There are also a handful of decent bars scattered further out, particularly in the Jewerly Quarter.
Apart from the local fondness for carefully sculpting hair with gel - and that's just the blokes - there are generally no dress codes. The occasional place may stipulate sports shoes but generally anything goes, especially bling baby, bling.