Grace Goslin is sick of the straights co-opting Valentine’s, so she’s out to make this February the queerest yet.
Ah yes, queer dating in London. The pool of potential matches spans far beyond the realms of the countryside village where I grew up, but navigating that pool can be daunting. But worry not, among the chaos, there are beacons of hope. The confused teenager who moved to the capital four years ago would be ecstatic to see the fully fledged dykonic woman I have morphed into, and I have London’s LGBTQ+ nightlife to thank: club venues, parties and people who have created spaces for queers (single or otherwise) to meet and thrive.
Whether you’re looking for someone to shack up with after a club night, or just tired of trawling through dating apps, there are plenty of queer events on Valentine’s weekend where singles can meet their match. Go forth, my LGBTQ+ friends and make this heteronormative holiday your own.
The actual dating events...
This might just be the triple threat of Valentine’s nights out. Buckle up for speed dating, comedy and partying. They even hand out goodie bags. What better way to get over yourself and meet new people than to be thrust into a fleeting five-minute conversation that resembles a real-life Tinder swipe? Oh Queer Cupid is about forming friendships as well as potential romance and it’s one of the few dating events that doesn’t enforce a gender- or sexuality-specific structure. It’s just about meeting, chatting, and having a blast. Joy!
The Apple Tree. Tube: Chancery Lane. Sat Feb 15. £8 for the speed dating and comedy events but the party is free 7pm-1am.
Calling all femme lesbians, and bisexual women – we are out here, we’re visible and we are ready to date. Billed as ‘London’s number one lesbian dating event’ (by, er, the organisers), Fancy a Femme will see women pack out the bar in a private section of The Megaro hotel in King’s Cross. Swanky and sexy – it definitely beats a low-key Sunday roast.
The Megaro. Tube: King’s Cross. Sun Feb 16. £19.95.
Amore Love has created a connection-based Valentine’s night geared towards polyamorous couples and queer people of colour who are over 25. The speed-dating event has made its mission to set up people who are most compatible. One for the romantics, this buys into the hopeful notion of love at first sight, or at least, attraction at first sight. You have to register in advance, so get clicking if you want to make a match.
65 Gresham St. Tube: St Paul’s. Wed Feb 12. £15-£20.
Lez Love: The Valentines Masquerade Ball
In the spirit of Valentine’s: lez get it on. For this lesbian extravaganza, it’s all about thinking kinky. Whether it’s the ‘dress to seduce’ dress code, the padded red walls of the venue, or that this night is set to be filled with extreme frivolity (confetti canisters and all). Just some of the surprises include a kissing booth, a clairvoyant to ease your dating woes, a candy station, a graffiti wall of love and a string of erotic dance performances. If that all sounds a little much, stick to the dancefloor, where DJs will be serving up bops until the early hours.
Bar Langley. Tube: Covent Garden. Fri Feb 14. £15.
The proper raves…
PopHorror Anti Valentine’s Ball
If the smell of price-hiked roses coming from Sainsbury’s on February 14 makes you sick, head down to The Royal Vauxhall Tavern’s pleasingly cynical V-Day ball. Find your imperfect match in a speed-hating session, enter the damaged-goods tombola and get your best screamo ‘Since U Been Gone’ voice ready for the drunk power ballad singalong.
The Royal Vauxhall Tavern. Tube: Vauxhall. Thu Feb 13. £12.
Outhaus: I Feel Love – A Big Queer Valentine’s
Nobody throws a party quite like the queers, and Outhaus has gathered all the essential components that make an incredible LGBTQ+ night out and are prepping to throw them right in our faces. We’re talking drag queens, go-go dancers and disco tunes galore. Shimmy your way to Colours Hoxton this Valentine’s Day – who knows who you might meet on the dancefloor? Alexa, play Donna Summer.
Colours Hoxton. Tube: Old St. Fri Feb 14. £7.
The legendary venues…
In the depths of Camberwell there is a venue which, from the outside, looks nothing more than a homage to London Prides of years gone by. But, come night-time, the humble south-east bar transforms into the campy sweatbox that is The Chateau. Whether it’s the small size of the space, the cosy seating area or the crowd’s willingness to mingle, making friends and setting dates is all part of the fun. And trust me, there’s enough room to make out to Charli XCX and throw some shapes to Gaga.
29-33 Camberwell Church St. Denmark Hill Overground.
An east London cult classic venue, where inclusivity is always at the forefront, VFD is a hub for grassroots queer ventures that pools a plethora of open-minded punters. Many a cute queer match has been made there, and its modest size and independent programming makes it the perfect date spot.
66 Stoke Newington Rd. Dalston Kingsland Overground.
Find more Valentine’s club nights for all with our loved-up guide