Vauxhall gay village
The village people of Vauxhall - the gay village - and the new developments: After-hours clubbing, cabaret nights and much more
Just south of the river, straddling a busy network of roads and railway crossings known locally as Vauxhall Cross, you’ll find what is commonly referred to as the Vauxhall Gay Village. It’s a strange sort of village by anyone’s standards. There is no village post office, for instance, and no village shop. There is a village green of sorts in the shape of Spring Gardens. And there are a few village idiots. They’re the ones you see being carted off in an ambulance after overdosing on GHB. The Vauxhall Gay Village isn’t really a village at all, more a collection of clubs where gay men can party all weekend if they want to, provided the drugs don’t bring them down first.It wasn’t always thus. A few years ago the only gay venue to speak of was the Royal Vauxhall Tavern - which, although home to Duckie, hardly qualified as a club venue.
Things changed with the opening of Crash. Despite warnings that West End boys wouldn’t be persuaded to travel south of the river, Crash built up an enormous following. Soon the club’s claim to being ‘the underground sound of London’ didn’t seem so far fetched, and other promoters were sniffing around, hoping for a piece of the action. Competition arrived, appropriately enough, with the opening of Action. Suddenly there were two clubs within staggering distance of one another, both competing for the same target audience of muscle Marys with a taste for house music.
Gradually, more clubs moved into the area, enabling the new village people to spend the best part of their weekend indoors. A:M and Orange opened as afterhours clubs on Friday and Sunday respectively. Then along came Beyond, aiming for the all-important afterhours Saturday night/Sunday morning market. It’s a measure of how successful Beyond became that some people held it responsible for the closure of the legendary Trade. With the addition of after-afterhours clubs like Later, life in the Vauxhall Gay Village was all sown up. It was now possible to go clubbing for the entire weekend without ever stepping foot outside the Vauxhall area.
There have been a few changes since. The success of Sunday’s Horse Meat Disco means that South Central now caters to fashionistas as well as its traditional audience of bears. Chariots sauna has also moved into the area, providing the perfect place to unwind after all that dancefloor acton. Action itself is no more, its joint promoters having gone their separate ways with new clubs LoveRevolution at Renaissance Rooms and Juicy at Fire. The weekend has now been extended to Tuesday morning with Open also at Fire. And the biggest surprise of all is that there still seem to be more than enough punters to go round. Even counting those who regularly end up in hospital.
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