A landmark ruling has secured an unprecedented 5am licence for new LGBTQ venue Bloc South in Vauxhall. This news is a welcome sign in the face of depressing statistics: nearly half of all LGBTQ clubs in London have closed since 2007 including The Black Cap, The Joiner's Arms, Madame JoJos Kazbar, Bar Titania and Candy Bar.
Lambeth Council has an 'Hours Policy' meaning that new clubs can open no later than 2am, but the licensing committee ruled in favour of later opening hours.
Lord Brian Paddick, the former Police Borough Commander of Lambeth, supported the club's application, writing: 'The sub-committee will be aware of trends in the LGBTQ community in recent years including the closing of many LGBTQ venues in London in general and south London in particular. There has also been a move to arranging to meet people online with the inherent dangers associated with not meeting in a neutral location first. In my opinion, there is a real need for "safe spaces" for members of the LGBTQ community to meet and socialise.'
The new Vauxhall club is owned by Wayne Shires, the man behind East Bloc in Dalston and Bloc in Camden, and is due to open next month. Shires is also one of the principal organisers of Gay Pride. The area has long been steeped in LGBTQ history – one of the first sightings of a drag performer in Vauxhall can be traced back to 1732. Bloc South's victory will hopefully mark the return to Vauxhall's heyday as London's 'gay village'.