Across London gay spaces are closing at an alarming rate but why do we need them when there’s so many amazing straight venues to frequent? And what’s better is they don’t even mind if we come!
The last few years have seen a steady decline in the number of operational gay and gay friendly venues. Once a safe space for young and old to unleash their true selves amongst like minded people looking for a good time. Gay venues have been an important aspect of queer culture, providing a port in the hetero storm for so many. They were places where gays could find their true tribe and shake off the restraints of the straight acting world. Yet more and more of these designated spaces are closing due to higher levels of acceptance from the straight community and lets face it so many banging straight venues to choose from. Why would we even need our own spaces when the straights are ‘totally fine’ with queers inhabiting their dance floors.
A mixed crowd is becoming ever more present and you don’t have to travel much further than your local ‘B@1’ to find it. I for one love shaking my ‘thang’ next to a repressed financial advisor in boot cut jeans and pointed leather shoes, clutching his oversized belt buckle and thrusting his pelvis awkwardly is some bizarre attempt at dancing. Oh the lols! I mean, what night would be complete without watching some dude sexually harass the female bar tender who is just trying to earn enough money to pay rent.
Gone are the days of disco divas, cheesy pop anthems and Grease sing-a-longs, now we’ve been accepted into the throngs of straight, white people ‘getting low’ to R’Kelly’s ‘Ignition.’ What’s to like about ‘Friendly Society’s’ quirky charm when you could happily twerk about at international hotspot ‘The Zoo?’ Can one even compare ‘The Glory’s’ subversive alt-scene with the all encompassing glamour of ‘Tiger Tiger?’ And let’s not forget the well lit vibes of any branch of ‘The Weatherspoons’ chain.
Scotty LeVine a self proclaimed ‘gay about town’ has relished the opportunity to give straight venues a try, stating: ‘It’s great to feel like a minority again, I love being the centre of attention, having all those straight guys watching. They love it when I get out on the dance floor and really show off my moves. They’re in such awe, I can tell from all the pointing and laughing.’
And Scotty’s not alone. Alexander Petticoat has become a regular at Simmon’s venues all over the capital. ‘It’s great to hang out with big groups of straight girls. They really rely on me to critique their outfits and help them do their makeup. They’re always asking my opinion of straight guys when they’re looking to pull.’ Alexander has often been spotted scoffing down some fried chicken looking super fulfilled as he waits by himself for an Uber home.
A number of recently closed gay venues have really opened up real estate for some high quality straight ventures. Candy Bar one of the very few lesbian bars in London closed its doors amidst protest to make way for a gentleman’s strip club. Local residents say it ‘really brings a touch of class to the neighbourhood.’ ‘The Black Cap,’ was once a happening gay joint in Camden but since it’s closure has housed any number of squatters, a marked improvement on the bar and club scene. Perhaps more than any, the final days of ‘Escape’ and ‘Madame Jojos’ have proven that queer venues are about as relevant as boarded up scaffolding.
Much has been said and written about the decline of London’s gay scene. Some arguing the marked increase of societal acceptance is the driving force behind the closure of so many gay spaces. Others put it down to rising drink prices and changes in music taste. One thing is for sure, when the competition is so high from straight venues what chance do those middling gay bars have. It all really comes down to taste. While the decimation of gay culture is a mournful moment, when there are so many fabulous straight alternatives, one has to ask… what is everyone complaining about?