Vauxhall gay village

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The village people of Vauxhall - the gay village - and the new developments: After-hours clubbing, cabaret nights and much more

  • Vauxhall gay village

    Clubbers at Orange (image: Sam Kesteven)

  • 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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48 comments
Nittlechisker
Nittlechisker

Soho what the hell is in Soho apart from half a dozen gay bars now? There are no big clubs in Soho or the West End apart from Heaven & who the hell wants to dance to Poppy chart music with a group of fem teenagers ! London is a Capital City & all capitals have SUPERCLUBS fact ! Grow Up & embrace it .....you don't have to be shit faced on gear or a sex addict to enjoy what Vauxhall has to offer.

trevor m screaton
trevor m screaton

i cannot wait to visit the many openings for me in london...i wll be saving for the rest of the year and spend every pound in december and make it a 2012 to remember

Scrum123
Scrum123

Visited vauxhall not been there in years and won't go back what a dump and as for the gay village what village? U pay 6-8 quid just to get in a bar where the music is shite and the people are all off their heads!! Well u have to be to get some sought of enjoyment! The staff are surly and up their own backside. The good days there are long gone. Final warning be street wise the area is down beat with all kinds of un savoury people. If u want a good time go to Manchester they know how to have a village and a good time without all being on planet gaga!!

Marco
Marco

Well guys london gay scene for me is pathetic, is my first time here and on the street you can see only homologate people nothing exiting...... Hidding what? Cruising parks are a bit english too.... I do not know howvto explain the miserable impression i had about gay british scene. That's is also for etero and all scene. London lost the good of the difference can be all the normal cities of the world..... No funny at all... But still beautiful and with mistery in the past things ... Houses and dark past.... But a city can survive only with the past! Thanks for readings it...my is not a bad comment only a delusion

Philip Davis
Philip Davis

I have been back in London now for 3 years, and have only been to Vauxhall once, how bad is that. But we had a really good time, the clubs were buzzing, atmosphere was good. need to get my arse down thee alot more, and enjoy myself x

Simon Day
Simon Day

been to fire twice and both times was unpleasant.Only 1 room was open in Fire and the music was crap and the Crowd was'nt the best.spoilt up till then a good night...sticking to heaven and soho in future....

Aid
Aid

Great Article. Just about sums up this trashy crap part of town (although you could have explressed more about the shawlowness and materialism of the gay population that live there). You only need to walk around for a few mins to see that lack of individualism in the gay population is centred around drugs, unsafe sex, disease and fitting into the 'ghetto'. I dont remember village people of the 70's but there seems be a lot of lookie likies there now. Yuk. Stick to the West End.

S
S

Nah Vauxhall is so trashy. Basically guys who dont have a job or a career end up in vauxhall off ther heads and take the bus home. Stick with Soho - more classy in my opinion and its where the cute professional guys hang out (like myself).

mrt
mrt

no mention of music policy unfortunately! would love to know which clubs play good undergound house and which ones to avoid with shitty electro house / banging non sense. thanks

paul
paul

Hi,I,m in London on sat 28.11 travelling alone,are there relaxed/chilled bars?

Jon
Jon

Hello!! I'm visiting London in 2 days' time, till next Tuesday, with some friends and we'd like to know where to go in the gay scene (pubs, clubs, bars...), thanks for helping. Hasta pronto!! See you soon!!

Pav
Pav

Hi. I ve been to Fire once long time ago. cant remember much ;-).I recently become single and I'm discovering London Gay Night Life again. I spend my weekends in Soho mostly in G-A-Y but I think I be visiting Vauxhall soon. I love good house music, something whats deffinitely missing in Soho and prabably Vauxhall has. I like Soho but ........ see u in Vauxhall then. ;-)

James Herne
James Herne

i totally agree because i live near vauxhall in brixton and never seen any trouble but as you said Paul be aware do you fancy going for a drink one knight Paul

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson

I live near Vauxhall and have NEVER seen any trouble. Like all large cities you have to be aware in London, but Vauxhall is not the sort of place anything would happen - especially around the venues. It is nothing like Washington DC for example. You have to remember that there are literally THOUSANDS of clubbers out at the weekend in Vauxhall. Currently clubbers from all over London condescend at Area on Sunday morning to continue clubbing from 3am to lunchtime. The clubs all have queues outside and there are official taxi cabs outside the clubs (not RVT). If you are worried about getting home in the early hours (especially if alone) always take an OFFICIAL taxi from the dispatcher at the club. To be safe dont go wandering around ANY part of London alone in the early hours of the morning especially the parks (which are closed), and never carry more money than you need.

James Herne
James Herne

hi Ethan no vauxhall is not very safe but it depends on who you are with and if you or your friends are drawing attention to them self then it becomes not safe but really it is fine and you never know you might meet the man of your dreams ha ha ha.

James Herne
James Herne

i live in brixton and i have been drinking in vauxhall a few times and i did not think it was all that so if anyone knows of a good gay bar in london let me know.

rALPH
rALPH

is Vauxhall like Church street in Toronto?? (liberty street in Queer as folk USA) I mean like a complete community with services and stuff?? cause I´m from america and I´m about to go to london for a long time and I´m trying to fingd out if aroun there is like convenient to rent a place for living.

A
A

Vauxhall is shite... it's pretty much where the trashy gays hang out, a lot of people who have to take the bus and don't work 9 to 5

Ethan
Ethan

Is Vauxhall village a safety plec for gays? I'm visiting London in November and some comments say Vauxhall is not very safe. is this true? Tnx!

Mark (from US)
Mark (from US)

I'm planning my first serious trip to London In January for my birthday. I will be traveling alone. I've looked all over the net trying to find the best places to stay in London for the gay traveler. I can't find anything specific. I'm more of the cub type. Like guys that are natural, down to earth, non-queenie types. I like to sightsee during the day then would love to just sit in a pub (gay one, I hope) in the afternoons and down a few pints while meeting local guys, head out to dinner then to a couple bars for the night. If anyone can help me out with the area of London and names of hotels I would greatly appreciate it and hopefully can spring for a few drinks together when I get there. Thanks guys, Mark

Adam James
Adam James

I have been out in Vauxhall a few times and love it... the music is great and the people are diverse and hot... as some people have said on here, if Vauxhall isn't for you then there are plenty of other places in London to go to. I used to go out in Soho a lot before I had ever stepped foot in Vauxhall and loved it but now I can't stand it. People in Soho are generally very bitchy and queeny and I feel less comfortable stood on Compton Street then I do dancing the night away in Fire. Don't get me wrong, I'll happily have drinks at G-A-Y with friends but if I want a really good night out then Vauxhall is the only place for me... I still need to go to the other clubs there and see what they're all about!

Paul
Paul

Vauxhall continues to evolve with the opening of The Depot which hosts Fit Lads plus other nights where back room action can be found. Also The Hoist, which is Londons largest leather bar under the arches in Vauxhall has plenty of action. Also of note is The Eagle (with new beer garden) also hosting leather/blokes nights esp Saturday. Vauxhall has many unique nights, esp Mega Woof & Leather Mega Woof at the Collesium .

kev
kev

Im going to be staying near vauxhall this weekend. 1st time in London. Do any of the vauxhall gay bars/clubs have darkrooms?

Gabriel
Gabriel

Having lived in london for about 18 years and Vauxhall for about two years....let me say If you act or appear to be gay on the streets of Vauxhall it is not safe. On the street 'chav' culture Be safe

tomm
tomm

@ tom I think its one thing to criticise men who choose to waste there lives on drugs...but another to slate all gays in vauxhall and applaud homophobia...Men are getting beaten and sometimes killed by homophobes. great that your local bar is ok with you being out..many arent. From football terraces to many workplaces you would face problems being gay. ....get a life , what sort of vile waster applauds homophobia.

Karl Anderson
Karl Anderson

I'm looking for somewhere to stay in December / New Year, around the Scene. Any suggestions for a reasonably priced room with 1/2 decent standards? Karl

Tomm
Tomm

Not sure if its just me but has anyone else noticed Soho is becoming quite homophobic. Ive been to compton st twice in the last month. The first time there was a straight stag do with the groom walking down the street in his underpants while his mates called out that he might be "bummed". The second time a group of 12 straight guys ran in and out of comptons giggling cos it was a gay bar. Ha s anyone else noticed a change??

Adrian Pagan
Adrian Pagan

Hedonism doesn't neccessarily involve drugs or sex - it's just about letting go. And Vauxhall is so inclusive (esp. the Royal Vauxhall Tavern) you can. It's had a face lift so certainly isn't grimy anymore and has some top acts during the week as well as weekends. The sunny sunday afternoon is the best time to visit (see above) where the anyone who's passing chills out on the 'grassy knoll' in london. It's truly unique - all gay life is there sprawling out on the green grass for free, less than a mile from the Houses of Parliament. Where else does that happen in the uk apart from the 'seal colony' in distant Hampstead Ponds. Then you can pop into the RVT to see irrepressible leg-end that is The Dame Edna Experience for half the price of a normal club night. Gay hedonism? More like Gay Nirvana.

Gary
Gary

Why Vauxhall? I was there going to a club once but they wont let me in beacuse I was not good looking to get in. What wrong with Soho area, thought that was suposse to be best place to hang out. Anyway London is getting worst....

Nelly
Nelly

There are certainly different sort of events on offer on the London gay scene. a great example is Village Drinks - it's a socialevent for gay professionals, and I think they are starting one soon in Manchester. have a look at www.villagedrinks.co.uk

Nic
Nic

Vauxhall is cool.. check out all the beautiful muscle mary's in Chariots, then go to RVT for some camp fun, then Barcode, then Fire. It's the best place to live and enjoy gay life.

matt
matt

IM CONFUSED!! should i stay in Manchester or visit London...i dont wana waste my money on a pointless night out...i know Manchester is gr8 but London is quite far away and would cost me alot of money 2 get down and stay over...is it worth going??

Greg
Greg

I have witnessed the rise of the so called vauxhall village as a clubber and I can safely say that I have managed to balance my professional life and in the meantime enjoy the music, dancing and camaderie that clubbing offers...plus the many interesting guys I met along the way. It is true that it gets trashy but this is part of a lifestyle that our community has developed. To reject that is simply an indication of homophobia. It's amazing how homophobic some gay guys can be!

stephen dublin
stephen dublin

Just back from london and did the sunday nite monday morn thing in fire (orange), although a little shocking, what goes on, it kinda just makes you want to go back for more. Looking forward to the next time. Just certainly couldnt do that each weekend, do these people ever work !! :-)

Sven
Sven

Hi fella's, coming down to London soon, I'm getting very mixed messages here about not just Vauxhall, but London in general. Been on the seen in Mancs, Newcastle, Edinburgh. I gotta say, I think it's all the same, depends on your disposition? Are incomers made to feel welcome? Really looking forward to coming down to the Big Smoke to see whats on offer. Might see ya's peeps! Sven xx

Vauxhall Dave
Vauxhall Dave

Vauxhall is a great place to live and to go out in . There is a lot of variety out there and a lot of opportunities to socialise and meet great looking men. It just needs a bit more of a community infrastructure and somewhere to have a meal or a coffee. Bar code feels more like somewhere I'd want to meet a friend after work and chat. The RVT has got a range of interesting and experimental different nights during the week. Horse meet is eclectic and great. You don't need to be georgous but you do need to be comfortable around drugs, alcohol and sex. Not everything needs to be glamourous and stylish, not for me anyway. Sometimes rough around the edges can feel pretty good.

Quinn
Quinn

As an outsider, I found the social system of A-listers, wanna-bees, and those who dont care quite fascinating in London. Drugs ARE everywhere. Was lauded by a few for not ebing a user and being able to party all night. Muscle guys. Well, they are not obviously unfriendly, but still you can sense the conceit. Which is usually kind of pointless, as there is so many of them, that being other than a just another generic shaved-chest muscle mary is quite a task.

Pete
Pete

It's not perfect, but I think London is a great place to be gay. If you like clubbing you are spoilt for choice. Tom asks where the gay book club is - answer: Gay's The Word book store (I've never been - too busy being superficial). For spirituality and community action there are lots of non gay-specific avenues to explore. My biggest discovery of recent years though is that I can go clubbing and stay up all night without taking drugs, and it is more fun. In fact ... just done it! I love bank holidays ;-) The URL for that bookstore: http://freespace.virgin.net/gays.theword/

Steve
Steve

The Vauxhall Tavern as always is the best pub/club in the area. Try going there on a Sunny Sunday afternoon and you will see the gay community that you are all looking for on the grassy knoll behind the venue. Never mind the BEST show for only £6 when Edna comes on stage. Get out of the after hours clubs and into the day light and you will see a different side of Vauxhall...

Matt
Matt

The truth about vauxhall, is that you know what you get. Those who wrote that clubs are not friendly and that you have to be good looking or hedonistic are just talking rubbish. There is not much attitude and everyone is welcome. A bit trashy for sure, but if you do not like it, go somewhere else! London has got so much to offer. From your local gay pub (there is one in every lively nighbourhood) to the trendy bar in soho or your cheesy cabaret show in Clapham, you'll find what suits you.

Luke
Luke

The very sad truth is that vauxhall is great if you are good looking or hedonistic... if you are ugly, you won't enjoy it. Intellectuals would love to get in on the action, and the good looking ones do!

Debbieanne O'Donovan
Debbieanne O'Donovan

The Vauxhall village, in my opinion, is simply great!.... DJ's ahead of their time... No attitude and a scene that seems to party like no other! The Royal Vauxhall Tavern my personal highlight.... But the entire scene and what is happening there, I find very exciting - amazing DJ's featuring week in, week out - a great alternative to dated, over-camp scenes...

Sergio
Sergio

I also found the gay london scenne quite obvious, full of sleazy and histerical attitudes, leaving nothing to the imagination... beliving that our party is wonderful but in the end... it's just another simple Getto of London. the world is out there...

tom
tom

I agree with matthew although in a less wordy fashion! There isn't anything in London for young gay men, who perhaps are on a spiritual or political path, people who really want to connect with their peers instead of objectify them sexually. Where are the book clubs or little eco festivals, i'm sure many of us are interested in these things but the idea of going to a 'group' freaks us out...who might be there?? I'd be well interested in utilising people's desire for change to create a network of young gay londoners to actually do something about this!!

Patrick
Patrick

I have found London gay clubs a big disappointment as well. There are def some trendy spots. But, the streets look grimey/trashy and the dudes are not so friendly to visitors. Why do people go out?

Matthew
Matthew

The Vauxhall scene is grimy and divine but built on a notion of transgression via drugs as route to identity or pseudo-politics ('Beyond' etc); which also feeds into attitudes to HIV/AIDS and barebacking; we have to invent forms of culture, including club cultures, which allow us to enjoy the pleasures experienced in the Vauxhall scene without feeling the need to trangress limits, ditch 'responsibility' and destroy our lives.

Kevin
Kevin

Jose, you obviously have not been to see the latest the clubs have to offer. They offer a fantastic sence of style and liberation. Provide a space where you will get such a rich range of cultures mixing in a positive and enjoyable enviroment. Even if i was straight i would go to gay clubs. the best of both worlds

jose walker
jose walker

gay clubs are still downmarket, grimey and with little sense of style. I am embarrassed to be gay

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