Royal Vauxhall Tavern
Time Out says
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To paraphrase a famous saying: after a nuclear holocaust, all that will be left are cockroaches, Cher and the Royal Vauxhall Tavern. Dating back to 1863, this pub-cum-legendary queer performance venue has been threatened for years by greedy property developers. But with public support (including from the RVT Future campaign) the venue has won the twin legal protections of ‘Asset of Community Value’ status and a Grade II listing. Business owner James Lindsay signed a new 20-year lease with the RVT building’s landlords in 2018.
People care about this place because it mixes a rich history – Princess Diana is rumoured to have visited with Freddie Mercury, and Lily Savage got her start behind the bar – with cutting-edge queer club nights Duckie (run by London’s ‘Night Czar’, Amy Lamé) and Bar Wotever. It’s a stalwart of London’s LGBTQ+ scene and an essential stop for anyone seeking the capital’s finest cabaret and performance – or just a bloody good time.
In the 1980s, The RVT became known as ‘The Palladium of Drag’ with stars such as Lily Savage who had a long residency, Regina Fong, Adrella, The Trollettes and Lola Lasagne. In the late 1990s Jonathan Hellyer’s residency as The Dame Edna Experience graced the RVT stage for 18 years playing to a packed out, at capacity audiences every Sunday and Bank Holiday weekends. It is also the venue that Freddie Mercury and Kenny Everett reportedly took Princess Diana for a night out in disguise and Dame Helen Mirren brought her godson for a relaxed family night out.
In the 21st century, The RVT is home to a wide range of nights and performers covering every aspect of the LGBTQ+ scene for entertainment and cabaret excellence sustaining an established reputation as a vibrant and diverse entertainment venue featuring respected artists including Belinda Carlisle, Mutya Buena, Bucks Fizz, Liberty X, The Three Degrees, Sonia, Gabrielle, Mica Paris, Toyah and Carol Decker/T’Pau.
2020 Media and Entertainment Industry Awards – Voted By The Public as Best Cabaret Venue for the last two consecutive years.