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travis alabanza, street that changed my life, RVT
Image: Time Out

Travis Alabanza reminisces about The Royal Vauxhall Tavern

The writer, poet and performer looks back at their early shows at the RVT

By Paula Akpan
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Around 2015, I lived near The Royal Vauxhall Tavern on Kennington Lane in Vauxhall. It was around the time that I first started performing in London. I basically lived at the Tavern – I was either there working or watching performances.

Vauxhall became the first place, outside of my home in Bristol, where I felt like I knew the beat of it. I would walk past the Tavern when it was open and I’d stop for ten minutes and have a chat with the security guard or have a cigarette with someone I knew in the pub.

My career grew while living near Kennington Lane. The Tavern is the only venue in London where I’ve performed so often over the years you can see my growth as an artist.

If you know your queer history, you can throw a penny from Kennington Lane and probably hit a legend. The Tavern is the oldest LGBTQ+ venue in the country and there have been some amazing performers there. Doing shows there was an education for me – when you’re not trained as a performer, you learn in the clubs. I miss living there. Kennington Lane was really foundational for me. Long live The Royal Vauxhall Tavern! 

‘Overflow’ by Travis Alabanza is at The Bush Theatre. Dec 8-22.

Read more from this series:

Dane Baptiste on his first stand-up gig, in a London wine bar.

Jade Anouka on her formative years in a New Cross flatshare.

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