Soho is well known for being the hub of the London, and therefore England’s gay scene, it is far from the only area in London with many gay venues but it is the most visible and famous. Soho’s Pink Weekend immediately prior to Pride, the international celebration of gay culture, is well known and heavily visited, this is the area of London where the pink pound as it is known really holds sway.
The gay community is one of the most pervasive of the numerous communities which call Soho home, it is bold, open and in your face, the gay community at play. There are again far too many venues to name here so here we go, lets get some of the most influential under way.
Admiral Duncan (Old Compton Street)
This one room pub seems to have become something of a symbol for the tenacity of the gay communities resistance to hate, the victim of a terrible bombing in 1999, it has grown into a vibrant party venue and is one of the most visited gay venues in Soho. There is a small outside smoking and drinking area right on Old Compton Street, and the pub itself is a lively party place which is always friendly and welcoming.
Village Soho(Wardour Street)
The village has been around for ever and is spread over three floors, it has many different elements from cafe areas to bars to dancers and stands in pride of place(pardon the pun) at the point at which Old Compton Street joins Wardour Street. The upstairs floor has a table right by the window which looks out over the daily life of Soho and there is a lot to watch from your vantage point.
Comptons (Old Compton Street)
Comptons is another Soho stalwart, lasting forever and more hardcore gay than the others I have named, by hardcore I simply mean that you might actually want to be gay to go in here, but if you are then this the place to be, two floors, tables and open areas and an outside area for viewing the talent, either from the outside or from the inside.
Freedom Bar (Wardour Street)
Freedom is a very stylish bar in the centre of Soho which has outside tables and great big windows which open making the sofas nearest the windows almost outside as well. I remember when Freedom opened back in the nineties and they had such great ideas like all drinks at the bar were free while Kylie Minogue was playing. Freedom has evolved since then and is a sophisticated place to hang out and watch the day unfold around you.
London Astoria (Charing Cross Road)
Alright, alright, I know that not only does this place no longer exist but even the building has been demolished, but it has to be mentioned. the LA as it was known was a music venue which launched the careers of many bands, but in later years became a club venue which had gay nights, it was set in an old theatre and was magnificent, the LA 2 was set in the basement and was more consistently gay. The place was massively popular with people from outside London who did not know the scene and was frankly a great place, I could simply not avoid mentioning it.
Heaven(Villiers street, under charing cross station)
Well, if I’m digressing then I may as well mention Heaven as it’s not so far from Soho but is probably the most famous gay club in the world. Back in the day they had a wednesday night thing called fruit machine which was strictly gay, myself and my partner and another couple turned up and the girls went in together as did me and my friend. My girlfriend was challenged on the door with “are you gay?”, she misheard thought they said “are you ok? , she replied “Oh God no darling! i’m wonderful!”. And in we went!
Slur loves the pink tints!