Burned to the ground in 61 AD by Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni Celts, the Roman settlement at Londinium was soon rebuilt by it's founders. With increasing prosperity it became the capital of their province of Britannia. Anglo-Saxons and Vikings vied for control after the Romans left around 410, and by the time William of Normandy was crowned at Westminster Abbey in 1066 London was again the largest and richest city within what are now the British Isles.
The next millennium would see the city become the center of an empire, with the wealth of a quarter of the world flowing into the imperial coffers. The widespread use of English around the globe is a legacy of that period. So too is the diversity of the city's population; a third of Londoners were not born in Britain. But changes that many people cheer, such as the election of Sadiq Khan as Mayor of London in 2016, appear to threaten others. Sadly, if Brexit (EU exit) actually takes place, such diversity is at risk. (See an editorial comment at the bottom of this page).
Despite the dangers on the horizon since the EU referendum, as a global center for theater, music, and the visual and performing arts, London has few rivals. Various and excellent international restaurants and a revival of traditional cooking had at last put an end to a century of jokes about bland English food. Britain now produces about 700 different kinds of cheeses for example –100 more than France - but while high-end establishments seem safe for now, international chefs at the more affordable restaurants are facing Brexit heat.
One bright spot has been the way living conditions for gay people improved so astoundingly these past few decades, compared to the dark era between the late Victorian era prosecution of Oscar Wilde and the post-WWII suicide of Alan Turing. The gay scene ranked among the best in the world, with a vast array of bars, pubs, clubs, cafes and saunas serving the community day or night - but queer businesses are now being squeezed out at alarming rates. We currently list about one hundred LGBT social gathering places, but over 150 others have closed in recent years.
Two centuries ago Samuel Johnson famously said: "when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford." This capital city still has many attractive qualities, especially as one of the largest and most diverse LGBT communities on the planet. Millions of tourists continue to arrive here each year, and whatever happens by the end of 2019, a trip to London won't soon be forgotten.
Gatwick and Heathrow airports get most international arrivals. Express trains from Heathrow to Paddington Station take 15 minutes. The Gatwick Express takes 30 minute to Victoria Station. Tickets can be bought online or on the train. A return ticket is good for up to 30 days.
Stansted Airport has an express train to Liverpool Street Station or buses to Victoria Station. Luton Airport has a free shuttle bus to Luton Parkway Station, where you can catch a train to Kings Cross/St. Pancreas Station.
Eurostar trains from Europe arrive at Waterloo station.
Getting around London is a snap. Taxis are everywhere, buses are frequent, and the Underground (better known as 'the Tube') goes most everywhere. Five lines now have 24-hour weekend service on Friday and Saturday nights: the Central, Jubilee, Northern, Piccadilly, and the Victoria, making that late-night bar-hop from Soho to Vauxhall a lot easier and less expensive. Night Tube trains run every 10-20 minutes, and night buses and taxis at your destination station can get you further along your way. Plans to extend the service to more lines are in the works.
An Oyster card, (available at the Oyster Visitor shop, Oyster Ticket Stops, stations, bus and tram stops), will save about half the price of single Underground tickets. Bus trips cannot paid for in cash, so use an Oyster, a contactless payment card, a paper Travelcard or a Bus & Tram Pass. You can also use any debit or credit card with a contactless symbol for payment. Be sure to “tap out” when leaving, or risk being charged the maximum possible fare. See the Transport for London and Visitor Shop websites for full details.
London's bike-sharing scheme is called Santander Cycles, and you don't have to be a member - a debit or credit card will do. As with similar programs in other cities, all journeys under 30 minutes are free - after that pay £2 for 24 hours (an annual pass costs £90). To return the bike push it firmly into any empty docking point at one of the many stations scattered across London --about 11,500 bikes at 750 stations. Mobike dockless bikes, unlocked with an iTunes app, are available on some streets in London, but in shrinking operating zones. They may soon go the way of the oBike and Ofo bikes, which pulled out, reeling from high levels of vandalism and theft.
The Emirates Air Line (aka the Thames cable car) is a five-minute (rush hour) or ten-minute gondola ride across the River Thames, connecting Royal Docks (Royal Victoria station) with Greenwich Peninsula (North Greenwich station) - including a great view of the city.
If you do drive, or rent ("hire" they say here) a car, be aware of the Congestion Charge Zone for which you must pay a daily surcharge. It covers most of central London. See map and the CCZ link, or ask your car rental company.
Media & resources
Attitude, BOYZ Magazine, GayTimes, Gay-to-Z, and QX Magazine have gay news, reviews, club and party updates, photos and listings. Boyz has day-by-day club event listings in print and online. Pink News and The GayUK websites cover LGBT news of Britain, the US, and the world.
The LGBT Underground blog covers “Urban LGBT Talent” from the UK, and worldwide, with info on local live music performances, hiphop, poetry/ spoken word events, videos, promos; and events such as QueerFest.
Several recent events have marked the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England: Same-sex desire and gender identity, The British Museum proposes that "the past is much queerer than we have often thought;" a Tate Britain exhibition featured Queer British Art 1861–1967; and 'Queer Tours of London – A Mince Through Time’ have been set up to support London’s current queer activism, culture and performance in all its glory - in partnership with the Peter Tatchell Foundation, fighting for human rights and justice across the globe. Also see A Queer Walk Through British Art, by the Tate.
For wallet-friendly lodgings options, see Outlet, with lists of gay-owned/gay-friendly apartments and rooms, including long-term rentals.
KCTV is an online guide and media site for new arts, fashion, music and culture events of a colorful variety. The Off-West End website can keep you updated on all the independent theater productions in London.
London Helicopter website, besides their offers of aerial tours of the city, provides an interactive map with locations of some lesser known sights, historic sites, haunted buildings and other odd but noteworthy places.
The Southbank Centre complex (the Royal Festival Hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Hayward Gallery), is Europe’s largest center for the arts. Nearly a thousand paid performances of music, dance and literature are staged here, as well as over 300 free foyer events. The BFI (British Film Institute) Film Festival takes place here each October, also the Lesbian & Gay Film Festival in spring.
Stonewall has an online guide with history, Information and advice about laws that affect LGBT people in Britain, and how to deal with the police and the courts.
For more general visitor information see Visit London online, or check out one of their dozen information centers at airports, train stations, Piccadilly Circus, the Greenwich Old Royal Naval College, and across from St Paul’s Cathedral, among other sites.
Visit Britain, by the British Tourist Authority, covers other points of interest around the country, with all the popular cultural events, sights and attractions. Late Night London has good mainsteam club and events listings.
The Fat Gay Vegan website has food information and events listings for the London area and beyond - including the Venn Street Market in Clapham Common, a weekly showcase of some of the finest vegan street food in the capital.
For locations and website links to businesses listed below click the name. See our London gay map & listings pages for more businesses, our events listings page for a sample of what's happening in gay London, some photos from around town at the gallery, and some of the city's main attractions at activities.
For a list of over 150 gay bars and clubs that have closed since Y2K, see GayUK.
For the most part London is very safe, but for your own peace of mind keep your wallet in your front pocket. Leave your passport at your hotel (keep a photocopy with you), and use common sense when cruising.
Ace Hotel Shoreditch (100 Shoreditch High St; 207-613-9800), American gay-owned hotel chain, modern rooms, various sizes, Hoi Polloi brasserie dining/cocktails.
Central Station (37 Wharfdale Rd; 207-278-3294), three rooms above popular gay bar in King's Cross, breakfast at the restaurant.
FitzBB (Fitzovia; (207-834-372-866) gay B&B townhouse, quiet street, not far from Soho.
Griffin House (22 Stockwell Green; 207-096-3332) gay-run holiday apartments near Vauxhall gay village.
Outlet Holidays (Outlet4holidays.com) Soho studio apartments, multi-level units, daily or weekly rentals, walk-in Soho office.
Swinton Hotel (18 Swinton St; 207-837-1451) central location in King's Cross, relaxed vibe, modern rooms with bath/showers.
See our lodgings listings for locations and websites for above hotels, and another two dozen hotel and guesthouse suggestions.
Dance Party Nights
A:M at Protocol, 11pm-10am Friday night/ Saturday morning weekly Orange Nation dance parties,
EXILIO Latin LGBT dance nights held at various London venues over the years, has recently settled at Bar & Co, a party boat moored at Temple Pier Victoria Embankment - each second and last Saturday. They also participate in Urban World at Scala in Kings Cross. Lady Olé is another Latin-popular queer kitsch night, at various venues including Club Kolis.
Club Kali has been doing South Asian dance parties for over 18 years, playing Bollywood Indian Glitter, Bhangra, Arabic, and RnB - now at Club Kolis (1 Archway Rd, Highgate), and also participating in Urban World!, at Scala, Kings Cross.
Hard Cock Life (Hangar London Fields, 2-18 Warburton Rd), "London's ridickulously good homo hip hop night," has been described by New York Magazine as having "A wildly enthusiastic crowd of some of the best looking men in London. It always sells out." A 5-8 times a year party night, previously at Ace Hotel.
Heaven G-A-Y still pulls good crowds for their Thursday Porn Idol contests where amateurs get naked to compete for £100 cash prizes. Friday Camp Attack, and G-A-Y Saturdays are some of the biggest gay dance events in the UK. Popcorn Mondays feature top DJs playing a variety of music and they welcome everyone.
Horse Meat Disco transform the Eagle London dancefloor on Sundays, with disco classics, unexpected gems and sublime rarities. A magical night of music and a eclectic mix of beautiful people and special guests from around the world.
Orange Nation presents: A:M 11pm-11am Friday night/ Saturday morning dance parties at Protocol; Beyond Saturday/Sunday morning 4am - noon afterhours party at Fire; and Orange midnight-6am Sunday night/ Monday mornings at Fire with vocal, upbeat deep house and tech house. They also present special parties such as WE Circuit, Matinée, and Jamie HP Circus nights. See website and facebook updates.
Savage Saturdays, every few months at Metropolis (235 Cambridge Heath Rd, Bethnal Green), is the late night dirty disco of East London where anything goes; little sister of the infamous Club Collective, Sink the Pink; Disco Music, Pole Dancing Drag Queens.
Union hosts Wrong, a gay/straight Friday night/ Saturday morning 1am-1pm afterhours, with cutting-edge underground tech house dancing each week in Vauxhall. Also: Glamorous 1-11am Sunday Night/ Monday morning after-club event; FMG a Wednesdays midnight to 8am House and Tech dance party; and last Saturdays' Bootylicious Gay LGBTQ+ Urban Clubbing.
A regular in an ever-changing line-up of special nights around the city, WE Party takes place during London Pride in June.
Fabric, the famous Islington dance club closed down after drug-related deaths, reopened with the support of mayor Sadiq Khan, but with entry only for those 19 and older, with government-issued IDs scanned at the door, more drug ban enforcement, and fewer bass-driven nights.
The Coronet Theatre dance club closed in January 2018 after 139 years, to be demolished for shopping center expansion and Elephant and Castle district gentrification.
Men's & Fetish Party Events
CumUnion, the international sex parties for men, happen in London the first Sunday each month at The Flying Dutchman (156 Wells Way, Camberwell, South London), an LGBTQ-friendly historic pub with shows, performances, art exhibits, and other special events.
Fitladz is a night for fit and sport-loving lads to socialize, cruise, dance, and get up on stage for amateur strip contests, at various venues.
For HardOn leather, rubber, sports, skin dress code men's events with live sex shows, go to Bloc South in Vauxhall each third Saturday. Torture Garden, and BiZarre are more gender-mixed events each month. Fetish Week takes place in mid-July.
H-PartyBoys, “The hottest underground party on the gay scene” gets together 250-300 sexy/ handsome, gay/bi guys, ages 18-40, from London and beyond, for safer-sex and mixing in drug and attitude-free, social/ sexual environments by Jamie H-P, second Saturdays each month in Covent Garden (new date as of Sep 2018).
Other regular JHP events include: TFN (Totally Fekkin Nude) every Saturday at Covent Garden Health Spa; plus SBN (Stark Bollock Naked) and NBN (Nearly Bollock Naked), Sundays at Fire. Also see Orange Nation SEXCIRCUS parties at Fire by Jamie HP every few months, and HorseFair, the sexy monthly JHP affairs at Covent Garden Health Spa.
The Underground Club, under Central Station in Kings Cross, hosts fetish nights such as: ABC; Come to Daddy (bears, daddies, chubs and chasers); Feet; Pants (naked/u'wear); Spankz; S.O.P. (watersports); Shoot sports fetish; Sweet Wednesdays; and City Boys after work suit and tie club "for a big office orgy."
See local gay magazines and websites such as Boyz, with daily listings to keep up with all these ever-changing events and special club nights. For a complete list of the bars and clubs we mention, with map locations, web-links and contact information, see our listings and events tabs.
For a list of over 150 London gay bars and clubs that have closed since Y2K, see GayUK.
Bars, pubs, & cafes
Gay life is everywhere across this vast metropolitan area, but Central London is the best place to start. Soho's Old Compton Street is a major artery with plenty of bars and pubs here and in surrounding streets. The Vauxhall Gay Village, south of the Thames, has a cluster of popular clubs, especially of interest to leathermen and bears, and at the dance clubs set into the railway embankments the partying goes non-stop from Friday until Monday morning.
Backstreet (Wentworth Mews), serious Friday-Sunday gay fetish club with strict rubber/ leather dress code, naked dance parties, dedicated following, private smokers' area; running parties and special events include Buff every Wednesday and Sunday, and most Saturdays, with MegaBuff (longer hours) first Sundays.
BJ's White Swan (556 Commercial Rd, Limehouse), festive pub with amateur strippers, slapstick entertainment, live DJs, drag shows, karaoke; Sunday dancing, Latin/Salsa, line and ballroom, followed by funk/house.
The Grapes (76 Narrow St, Limehouse), Dickens wrote of it, Ian McKellen is now a lease holder; beautiful and historic old pub and restaurant with pleasant mix of people and good food.
Troxy (490 Commercial Rd, Limehouse), 1933 art deco building, performance and events venue, music concerts, dance, comedy, drag shows.
Old Ship (17 Barnes St, Limehouse), gay mix neighbourhood pub, live music and cabaret, pool games, beer garden, big selection of real beers/ales, and wine.
The Queen Adelaide (483 Hackney Rd), East London gay bar, beer and cider on tap, wines and spirits; theme nights, meat or vegan Columbian empanadas.
Soho, West End & Central London
Admiral Duncan (54 Old Compton St) famous raspberry exterior, popular, pleasant place for drinks, center of Soho scene, across from Comptons.
Balans Cafe (34 Old Compton St), never-closes/ open 24-hours, Contemporary Global dining, pre-theatre drinks, post-club snacks, great breakfasts, outdoor dining.
Balans Soho (60 Old Compton St) stylish bar/lounge and restaurant, light fare burgers to full steak and seafood meals, Soho central, open daily from 7:30am, late weekends 'til 6am; weekend brunch.
Bar Soho (23-25 Old Compton St), smart/casual, gay-friendly/mixed, late hour cocktail bar, quirky cocktails, nightly DJs, snacks.
Circa (62 Frith St), upscale Soho gay club open nightly, young crowd, mostly guys, diva emcee, pumped up house music DJs, comfy big leather sofas, no cover.
Circa, The Club (Hungerford House, Victoria Embankment), new gay/mixed weekend dance club nights next to Embankment tube station, by Circa Soho.
City of Quebec (12 Old Quebec St), "non-scene" traditional pub for mature gay men, karaoke, drag host nights, DJs in The Den; noon to 6pm soup and sandwiches, liquor coffee drinks.
Comptons Of Soho (53 Old Compton St), no cologne male turf on two levels, always crowded by late afternoon, spills later into the street; inexpensive drinks, beers, wines, spirits, relaxed upstairs lounge.
Duke of Wellington (77 Wardour St, Soho) conversation video bar, DJs, mixed ages, mostly regular-guys, busy early, decent prices, short pub-crawl from Comptons.
Fabric (77a Charterhouse St, The City), gay-friendly dance club in three rooms, serious DJs, many kinds of music. Re-opened in late 2016.
Freedom (66 Wardour St, Soho), stylish club, early evenings trendy mixed crowd, special martinis and cocktails, dance floor, cabaret shows.
Friendly Society (79 Wardour St, Soho), Ken and Barbie-doll ceilings, friendly vibe, 18+ mixed crowd, weekday DJs playing chill-out music.
G-A-Y Bar (30 Old Compton St, Soho) elegant video bar on three levels, gay-favorite TV shows, performers, talent contests, cheap drinks and bagels.
G-A-Y Late (5 Goslett Yd) modern style, late-night lounge and dance club, near the Tottonham Court Rd tube station, late night Sunday drinking for members.
Halfway II Heaven (7 Duncannon St), 9-5 guys, traditional pub upstairs, karoke, cabaret entertainment nightly, downstairs intimate encounters.
Heaven G-A-Y Club (Under the Arches, off Villiers St) legendary dance club, four rooms; Thursday Porn Idol amateur strippers show their all.
Kings Arms (23 Poland St), well-loved cozy Soho pub, cruise and chill-out favorite of local bears, never a cover charge.
Ku Club (30 Lisle St, Leicester Sq), young lads, three floors, open Saturdays until 3am, cheap drinks, topless barboys, DJs and VJs; Ruby Tuesdays lesbian night. Wednesday Bombshell TV/TS/ drag queen nights
Ku Bar (25 Frith St), "Baby Ku" second location, music videos, Champagne Bar, fine coffees, three floors of music evenings, open nightly, DJs.
The Light Lounge (1 Newport Pl), bespoke cocktails by Ku, premium beers, wines and spirits lounge, with DJs on Friday and Saturday, bathed in natural daytime light, and nightime mood lighting.
London Gin Club (22 Great Chapel St), table service bar at The Star, gin-tonic tasting menu, nibbles and home-style pies, cheese and charcuterie boards, chocolate tasting board.
Molly Moggs (2 Old Compton St), small gay locals' pub/ tourist mix, karaoke, cabaret performers and drag shows upstairs.
Muse (23 Frith St), LGBTQ cocktail bar popular with women; share-plates menu, live acts, bands, DJs, comedians, burlesque and drag shows.
New Bloomsbury Set (76 Marchmont St, Camden), basement wine bar, cocktails and DJs, dancing, chill-out Sunday afternoons.
Retro Bar (2 George Ct), bar and lounge off the Strand, DJs, retro sounds, punk, pop, funk, glam; gaming machines, quiz nights, comedy nights; mixed men/women crowd, bears to divas.
Rupert Street Bar (50 Rupert St), afternoon cafe, burgers and sandwiches; after-work and evening cocktail bar, DJ sets, mostly young male crowd; Saturday night Glam!
She Soho (23a Old Compton St), lesbian bar "by girls, for girls," lively young crowd, drag king shows, quiz shows, DJs; part of the Ku group, events shared with Ku Leicester Sq.
Vault (139b-143 Whitfield St), 1pm-1am men's sex club, bar, cruising, dark rooms, mixed age range, underwear or Stripped strictly naked sessions.
Village (81 Wardour St, Soho), split-level space, cool vibe, men/women younger set hangout, DJs, go-go boys, karaoke, half price happy hours.
WayOut Club (64-73 Minores), every Saturday glamour, DJs, dancing and entertainment; trans girls, TVs, transvestites, cross-dressers, T-Girls, shemales, lady boys, drag queens, pre & post ops, friends, family and admirers.
Yard Bar (57 Rupert St), fashionable scene, fresh-air inner courtyard seating; mixed, mostly young and male afterwork crowd, DJ play vocal house. Weekend free-entry wristbands for nearby The Edge club.
Champion (1 Wellington Terrace, Notting Hill), comfy pub, food, diverse draft beers and lagers, real ales, fireplace, garden, WiFi, Sunday roasts.
Load of Hay (201 Pinner Rd, Watford), locals' goodtimes party pub, live music and cabaret, karaoke, quiz nights, drag, karaoke, bingo, home-style food, holiday parties; first Friday Girl Friday women's night, first Sunday Transgender Soirees, DJ nights.
Ted's Place (305a North End Rd, West Brompton), Tuesday/Friday/Saturday men-only cruise club, darkroom, naked/underwear nights; Sunday/Monday/Thursday transgender nights.
West 5 (56 Popes Lane), lively gay bar, quiz games, film nights, piano lounge, pool table, bingo, karaoke, drag emcees, variety shows, theme parties.
Central Station (37 Wharfdale Rd, Kings Cross), drag cabaret, variety, vaudeville and comedy shows, karaoke, vocalists, DJs, restaurant steaks/burgers, fish, pasta and breakfasts; roof terrace, free internet. Underground men's zone with a rotation of fetish parties.
Club Kali at Kolis Camden (18 Kentish Town Rd) and other venues, London's only South Asian music GBLT dance event, monthly first Fridays, with BBC DJ Ritu. Also at Urban World festivals at Scala, in Kings Cross.
Dalston Superstore (117 Kingsland High St. Shoreditch), daytime cafe and art gallery, all-day brunch, burgers/sandwiches, free Wi-Fi; later nightclub, live music, DJs, dancing, cheap drinks, hip young crowd, guest star emcees from Europe/USA and beyond; men/women, mostly gay but straight-friendly. Parties include Spin Cycle, and Disco Brunch. Shake Yer Dix threw their "last party" July 2016, to spin off Douche Bag at Star of Bethnal Green.
The Glory (281 Kingsland Rd, Haggerston), fresh new cabaret shows, indie-style drag, dancing, screenings and live performances. Queer Bodies life drawing, album release parties, Pub Queerz monthly pub quiz.
Hackney Attic (270 Mare St, Hackney), above the Hackney Picturehouse, with its Indie cinema foreign films and all-day cafe, is home to various events from crafts fairs to poetry readings and Queer Experiments nights for performers, writers, comedians and thinkers.
Kaos at Electrowerkz (7 Torrens St, Angel/Islington), monthly underground warehouse parties at a gritty/ industrial venue, techno-electro dance, fetish, tatoos, chic & fashionable kinky crowd, sometimes guest performers.
Sedition (217 City Rd, Shoreditch), small gay-friendly dance club, house, disco and techno nights; Warboy Friday night Shutdown, a chaotic basement bash showcasing remix artists and cast of experimental party makers/ radical performers. Formerly East Bloc.
Underground Club (37 Wharfdale Rd; under Central Station), men-only fetish, rubber, spanking, naked, and cruise parties.
VFD - Vogue Fabrics Dalston (66 Stoke Newington Rd, Stoke Newington), fashion gallery with downstairs minimalist boîte for hot and sweaty dancing, performance art, spoken word, cabaret, disco dancing, and special theme nights.
Vauxhall & South London
The Bread & Roses (68 Clapham Manor St), South London gay-friendly cabaret; global artists performing fringe theatre, live music, and comedy.
The Bridge (8 Voltaire Rd, Clapham), wine & tapas bar, restaurant, cocktails, after-work gay mix, DJs after dark.
The Cock Tavern (340 Kennington Rd), Wednesday-Saturday gay/mixed Kennington pub/club; quiz nights, dance floor.
Counter & Backcounter (Arch 50, 7-11 S Lambeth Pl) - CLOSED - upscale gay-popular French/American brasserie, breakfast, lunch, Sunday brunch and dinner, wines/cocktails.
Fire (South Lambeth Rd, Vauxhall), cutting-edge lighting and sound system, muscle guys mix with club kids. OrangeNation events include: Friday/Saturday 11pm-11am A:M at Protocol; Sunday mornings Beyond afterhours from 4am at Fire; and Sunday night/ Monday morning 11pm-7am Orange gay dance parties at Lightbox (6a South Lambeth Pl).
The Flying Dutchman (156 Wells Way, Camberwell, South London), LGBTQ-friendly historic pub, shows, performances, art exhibits, special events. CumUnion sex parties for men, the first Sunday each month.
George & Dragon (2 Blackheath Hill, Duptford Bridge), late night gay cabaret and piano bar; drag shows, bingo, guys of many ages and types.
Ministry of Sound (103 Gaunt St, Southwark), all-night mainstream dance club; trailblazing global house music brands.
Prince of Greenwich (72 Royal Hill, Greenwich), ornate antique Victorian pub, TV lounge; home-style Italian food, regular cabaret entertainment, Tuesday 8pm movies, party events.
Royal Vauxhall Tavern (372 Kennington Lane, Vauxhall), popular gay party bar, drag shows, male burlesque, wild shows and bizarre acts, diverse ages; popular Sunday shows - come before 4pm; August Fringe theatre presentations.
Two Brewers (114 Clapham High St, Lambeth), party and cabaret bar, karaoke, drag shows, rugby sports nights, house and guest DJs, bingo and karaoke nights.
Union and Tool Shed (66 Albert Embankment, Vauxhall), two-room underground dance club nights and afterhours. Various nights include: Bootylicious last Saturdays gay urban music parties; and Wrong, Saturday morning after-hours underground tech house dance party. After a popular run, the Nudity Naked Dance Club Sunday afternoon dancing/cruising, and monthly 4th Sunday afternoon naked foam parties ended in July 2018.
The Vauxhall Street Food Garden (South Lambeth Rd, Vauxhall), open weekdays 11:30am-10pm behind Fire Club, with global street food vendors, craft beers, cocktails, garden seating and WiFi.
XXL at Pulse Club (1 Invicta Plaza, Southbank), big dance venue near Southwark Tube station, Saturday and Wednesdays, men-only low-cost, circuit parties, stripped-down bears, musclemen, guys of all kinds and ages.
Saunas & Gyms
Chariots Vauxhall (63-64 Albert Embankment), open noon to 8am and non-stop Friday noon to Monday 8am; 20-man steam rooms, 30-man saunas, hot spa, two video rooms, snack bar and free WiFi.
E15 Club (6 Leytonstone Rd, Stratford), small sauna and steam room, hot tub, local rough trade and regular types.
Locker Room (8 Cleaver St, Kennington), local men's sauna, cruisy dark rooms, video lounge, fully naked all week long.
Pleasuredrome (Arch 124, Cornwall at Alaska, Waterloo), "gym with everything," large men-only sauna and spa, massage, dark rooms, tanning, cafe/bar, always open.
Sailors Limehouse (574 Commercial Rd), steam/sauna, big 20-man hot tub, cafe, lounge and three floors of play space.
Saunabar Portsea (2 Portsea Place, Marble Arch), sauna, steam room, sports or Swedish massage, bar.
Sweatbox (1-2 Ramillies St, Soho), 24-hour sauna, Jacuzzi, maze, full gym, massage, house DJs, drinks and snacks, Saturday foam parties.
CLOSED: Chariots Shoreditch (1 Fairchild St); Chariots Streatham (292 Streatham High Rd).
Shopping & Services
BFI Filmstore (Belvedere Rd, South Bank, Waterloo), classic screenplays, limited edition DVDs.
Clone Zone - Soho (35 Old Compton St), CDs videos, books, magazines, ticket sales, staff knows the local scene.
Expectations (75 Great Eastern St, off Old St, Shoreditch), leather, rubber, fetish, toys, undies, guides, erotic books and comics; Mister B products.
Gay's the Word (66 Marchmont St), London's leading gay and lesbian bookshop, near King's Cross.
ICA (The Mall), best of new art and film from Britain and around the world, bookstore and cafe.
Prowler (5-7 Brewer St, Soho), books, videos, large enclosed porn section, fashion wear, variety of poppers, dildos, toys.
Regulation (17a St. Albans Pl, Islington Green), bondage accoutrements, leather, rubber, underwear, accessories; made-to-measure fitting services.
Sh! Women's Erotic Emporium (31-35 Pitfield St, Shoreditch), women's sex shop, body-safe toys, lingerie, speakers' events and workshops.
Above the Stag Theatre (Arch 72 Albert Embankment), year-round theater program of comedy, drama and musicals, original gay-themed plays, cabaret, and a Christmas pantomime; also with full bar. New Vauxhall home. Original home above gay bar The Stag in Victoria was demolished.
The Bears Movie Club bears meet to go to movies each month, visitors welcome.
The Jermyn Street Theatre (16-B Jermyn St) has new talent showcased at a studio venue.
Southbank Centre is three buildings full of music, dance, and visual arts, plus the London Philharmonic and Sinfonietta Orchestras perform here too. The complex is also one of the venues for the annual Lesbian Gay Film Festival in mid-March.
The British Museum has a vast collection of world art and artifacts, free to visitors.
Kew Gardens has extensive gardens and botanical greenhouses, an attraction that draws two million visitors each year.
The London Eye, also known as the 'Millennium Wheel,' has views of the city from 443 feet.
The life and earth science specimens at the National History Museum include famous dinosaurs.
The Tate Britain, the oldest gallery in the network (since 1897), houses a substantial collection of the works of J. M. W. Turner, plus a permanent collection of historic British and contemporary art with whole rooms dedicated to works by one artist.
The Tate Boat ferries you to the Tate Modern with it's contemporary collections at Bankside. Boats depart every 40 minutes.
The Victoria and Albert Museum (Cromwell Rd) has the world's greatest collection of decorative arts and design.
George Michael was reported to have said, when caught with his pants down in Hampstead Heath, 'Fuck off! This is my culture.' As Mark Turner of King's College writes in the Guardian newspaper: 'queer encounters in parks, on embankments, in toilets, streets and back alleys are an integral part of the way our cities, and sexualities, express themselves.'
Turner, who wrote Backward Glances: Cruising the Queer Streets of New York and London, recommends Hampstead Heath, extolling the crowd of 'leather queens, randy teenagers, local husbands, young and old, black and white.' He complains, however, about the distance one must walk. 'Have you ever tried getting a taxi at Jack Straw's Castle at 4am?'
Hyde Park is noted as runner-up, as well as being the more international option. Russell Square and Bloomsbury Square, once cruisy with students, office workers and pickpockets, are both now locked up tight at night.
In May 2018, 'This is My Culture,' an Alternative Royal Wedding Party on Hampstead Heath, celebrated George Michael’s life, talent, and courage in promoting sexual freedom - and marked 20 years since the release of his song, ‘Outside’ - George’s response to being ensnared by a ‘pretty’ policeman in an LA public toilet. Hundreds had also gathered on the Heath the year before to honor the singer.
See the other UK cities we cover: Birmingham, Blackpool, Brighton, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester in England, Cardiff in Wales, Belfast in Northern Ireland, plus Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland.
Brexit: Editorial comment - after 40 years of loving London.
These past three years have been a nightmare of uncertainty for anyone who's closely followed events since the EU Referendum. Most of the British LGBT people who live in other EU countries feel very threatened. They feel quite at home in Paris or Prague, Berlin or Benidorm, with gay extended families of friends and lovers, but can they stay? If not, would one's Polish or Italian friend or lover be allowed to live in what seems like an ever more xenophobic British society? Would anyone want to? Have the English gone mad? Already many expats have given up and taken steps towards changing citizenship - often with difficulty and much stress. For the older and less wealthy among them it's been even harder. For anyone on the fringe - artists, actors, performers, musicians, DJs, writers, drag queens, the self-employed and the retired, gay or otherwise - living between gigs, projects or contracts had already been challenging. With a no deal Brexit, established professionals could lose the right to work, their credentials invalidated - or allowed to work only in one country, not in any of 27 others as they now can. Many expats were never allowed a vote in the referendum in the first place, nor were those who have since turned 18, the generation that stands to lose the most.
As this fantasy of Britain "free of Europe" plays itself out (as if they think the island can float over to hook onto Cape Cod), some people north of the Channel believe the EU has treated Britain unfairly. From The Continent the damage looks self-inflicted - more like suicide. The British economy is likely to suffer as money and businesses depart, along with the EU citizens who now feel unwelcome. These people are vital to the economy and to health and social services, and declines in the quality of life would follow, with ever more deterioration in basic infrastructure. With recent increases in traffic and air pollution, the city's rankings have already slipped. The pound would crash in value yet again, and while tourist dollars and euros would buy more, this would be an increasingly less attractive destination, perhaps as dreary as during the last era of British isolation. To anyone who remembers the depressing fifties and sixties and the "brain drain" exodus of the best and brightest from Britain, it looks insane. And what of Scotland and Northern Ireland? The Brexiteers seem not to care if the UK survives.
Already Berlin, Paris and Madrid seem livelier by comparison, as the provincialist malaise of Little England takes hold, and while it's clear that Europe doesn't need Britain, the reverse is not true. 'Join, or Die,' the political cartoon, published in a May 1754 issue of the Pennsylvania Gazette, was Benjamin Franklin's advice to American colonies of Britain, 262 years before the Brexit vote. Subsequent waves of immigrants to the United States made the country into the economic powerhouse it became, enriching that society with a mix of their cultures - although not without friction along the way. The English need not fear or disdain Europe (most Scots don't), or the growing pains of a multi-cultural Europe, nascent or already thriving in most capital cities, (if not yet in the hinterlands). For queer people it is obvious - we must avoid the horrors that could await us all - us in particular - should Europe collapse.
Some recent artlcles & links of interest:
One million join march against Brexit as Tories plan to oust May, by Toby Helm & Michael SavageMar 24, 2019, ©The Guardian.
If May stays at No 10, I’m starting Project Hope, the positive case for remain, by Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London), Jan 13, 2019, ©TheObserver
'We are being abandoned': Britons in EU on the Brexit deal vote, Jan 13, 2019, ©TheGuardian.
Pro-Brexit activist said all Muslims should be removed from UK, by Peter Walker, Jan 9, 2019, ©TheGuardian.
Britain must rid itself of the delusion that it is big, bold and in charge, by Robert Saunders, Jan 9, 2019, ©The Guardian
The Guardian view on Brexit: the government has failed – it’s time to go back to the people, Editorial, Jan 8, 2019, ©TheGuardian.
Brexit and the economy: How to make yourself poorer, Nov 29, 2018, ©The Economist.
Free falling: What to expect from a no-deal Brexit, Nov 24, 2018, ©The Economist.