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London's Top LGBTQ+ Clubs and Hangouts

London's Top LGBTQ+ Clubs and Hangouts main image

London is known as home to one of the best queer scenes in the world; so much so that this post could either have been very long, listing every club, bar and pub within the M25, or very short: are you LGBTQ+ and hanging out somewhere? Then it’s an LGBTQ+ hangout.

Having said that, if you’re new to London or new to the LGBT+ scene, there’s a couple of places you should know about. So if you’re here, you’re queer, and you want another beer, read on…

Heaven

With room for almost 2,000 partygoers, Heaven is London’s first gay superclub. The club has become world famous since the fateful day it opened its doors in 1979; everyone needs to dance the night away at this club in Charing Cross at least once, whether you’re gay, straight or somewhere in between. Thursday nights play host to Porn Idol, an amateur strip contest where the winner gets £250, Friday nights are for ’80s and ’90s cheesy tunes at Camp Attack, and Saturday nights tend to feature a live performance. If you’re lucky, you could be in with a chance of seeing some big names; the likes of Madonna, Kylie, Miley Cyrus, Robyn and Lady Gaga have all performed at this iconic venue.

Soho

Not a venue but an entire area of London. No matter if you represent the L, the B, the G, the T, the Q or the +, Soho is the place for you. Regarded as the beating heart of London’s LGBTQ+ scene – and close to Leicester Square, China Town, Oxford Street, Piccadilly and the West End – Soho is full of bars, pubs, clubs and restaurants to suit everyone’s tastes. Go for a meal, a coffee, a cocktail or a beer; a raucous night out, a relaxed hour of people watching or a quest for Soho’s speakeasys. Particular places not to miss include Comptons of Soho, Ku Bar and Club, G-A-Y Bar and Village.

She Bar

Also in Soho, She Bar deserves its very own section. This subterranean bunker is Old Compton Street’s first ever lesbian bar, and is currently the only one in London. She Bar is great for a boogie but is just as brilliant for DJs, karaoke, drag kings, live music and comedy. Men are allowed in, but only if they’re escorted by a woman friend. It’s an intimate venue which has been recently refurbished with a seeming Scandi bunker theme, with a back room that includes plants and hanging chairs known as the ‘Lady Garden’, obviously.

Dalston Superstore

Everyone is welcome at this trendy and eclectic LGBT space. Open for burgers during the day, and drag brunch until 4pm on weekends (obviously), Dalston Superstore hosts a range of parties by night. The basement recently hosted its first ever bisexual night, Fast and Bi-Furious (the oppprtunities for puns are never-ending!), and other regular events include the elctro night ‘Uncontrollable Urge’ on Wednesdays and SorryNotSorry Sundays, your monthly serving of poptastic tunes. You could easily spend all day here: pop in for a burger during the day, head upstairs for a drink in the evening, and then dance in the basement until the small wee hours.

VFD

Formerly (and still commonly) known as Vogue Fabrics, VFD is more of a multi-disciplinary arts space than a bar or club. Here you can find queer events such as spoken word poetry and (of course!) drag nights that last well into the early hours, visual art galleries and the work of local artists. But if all sounds a bit too artsy for you, never fear; the venue’s most famous artwork is the huge penis mural in the loos. Convinced?

Vauxhall

Again, not a venue but an area of London known for its testosterone-fuelled party nights. Choose from energetic and sweaty Fire for its house music scene and parties running from 2am until noon, the Union Club which is known for having the longest opening hours in London, Eagle which has waved goodbye to its sex license and hello to a new decor inspired by New York’s Meatpacking District, and XXL, which proudly boasts the longest running weekly disco in London having not missed a night in over 16 years.

For a slightly more sophisticated feel (maybe) try Royal Vauxhall Tavern, famous because Princess Diana was once smuggled in disguised as a man by Freddie Mercury, and now host to live theatre, pantomime and (you guessed it) drag shows. It even hosts a Sunday daytime party where Duckie – self-proclaimed “lowbrow live art hawkers, homo-social honky-tonkers and clubrunners for disadvantaged, but dynamically developing authentic British subcultures” – perform on Saturdays. With such competition, the question isn’t will you go to Vauxhall but where will you go when you get there?

Two Brewers

Quieter gays might feel more at home Two Brewers in Clapham, which has been proudly serving the gay community for thirty years. It’s a bar with a community feel that attracts a slightly older crowd, and hosts fun evenings such as Rock ‘N’ Roll Bingo on Mondays, a quiz night on Wednesdays, and - no gay venue would be complete without them! - drag acts throughout the week.

For your diary

A couple of other important notes for your big gay diaries: London Pride Parade is held on a Saturday in July every year, when 30,000 whistle-blowing, flag-waving, booty-shaking members of the LGBT+ community (and beyond) take to the streets to show their pride and their support, ending with a massive party in Soho.

The Pride Parade is always followed by UK Black Pride on the Sunday in Haggerston Park, which is Europe’s largest celebration for African, Caribbean, Asian, Middle Eastern and Latin American LGBTQ+ people. There are plenty of other queer events and meetups happening in London all the time and they’re easily found through a quick Google search - whether you like book clubs, hiking, street art or pie, there will be a group for you.

Cheers queers, and welcome to London!

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Written by Annie W.

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