The best LGBTQ clubs in London
By day, this East End favourite plates up brunch and burgers; by night, it’s London’s best pansexual party spot. The upstairs bar is fun for a warm-up drink, but the basement is where the club action happens. Regular nights include Uncontrollable Urge (eccentric electro on Wednesdays) and SorryNotSorry Sundays (a monthly helping of ‘unapologetic pop’). It’s all very trendy but everyone is welcome: don’t be surprised to see drag queens rubbing shoulders with off-duty dads from nearby Stoke Newington.
Formerly (and still commonly) known as Vogue Fabrics, this bijou Dalston basement hosts drag and spoken word events as well as genre-spanning club nights and parties. As its name suggests, it attracts a creative and fashion-conscious LGBTQ+ crowd who love to dress up (though no one will really care if you rock up in sneakers and a polo top). VFD has the chutzpah to host club nights with names like Cuntmafia and Sassitude, but never takes itself too seriously. After all, the venue’s most famous feature is the massive penis mural in the loos.
This Vauxhall institution has recently had a facelift to rival Sharon Osbourne’s. Out went the licence permitting sexual activity on the premises and in came the trendy decor inspired by New York’s Meatpacking District. Eagle’s large horseshoe bar still attracts many an older, burlier gay gent, but the overall ambience now feels slick and sexy rather than, well, slightly sleazy. On Sunday nights, the dancefloor welcomes a younger and more fashion-conscious crowd for Horse Meat Disco, one of London’s very best club nights. Debbie, a monthly Saturday night party which only plays songs by female artists, is also worth seeking out.
Clapham’s Two Brewers isn’t London’s hippest LGBTQ+ venue, but it’s defnitely one of the most popular. It’s open seven days a week and has a strong cabaret offering on weekdays, but Friday and Saturday are full-on club nights with drag shows and more pop bangers than Max Martin’s hard drive. You’ll probably have to queue to get in, and you’ll probably have a lot of fun.
There’s a reason why Duckie has been running on Saturdays at the RVT for nearly 25 years: it’s an absolute blast. Host Amy Lamé – who’s now London’s Night Czar, too – introduces performers who run the gamut from legendary to terrible: you could see tap-dancers or a drag queen, or you could end up watching a heterosexual couple from Essex having a bust-up on stage. In between and after the turns, DJ duo the Readers Wifes drop a hard-to-describe mix of Britpop, disco and leftfield chart hits from Bowie to Britney. Whatever your gender and sexuality, Duckie is a must-try; the only real rule is no whipping off your top like you’re at XXL.
Something of a local legend, the White Swan is the East End’s most famous gay boozer. The comedian Michael Barrymore famously came out on stage here. Sir Ian McKellen used to drop in after he came out. More recently, it’s suffered from a bit of a rough-and-ready reputation, but its 4am licence on Fridays and Saturdays isn’t to be sniffed at. And monthly club night Cybil’s House, which bills itself as ‘a queer oasis of happiness, acceptance and celebration’, is becoming a real cult fave.
When it opened in 1979, Heaven was revolutionary. London’s first gay superclub, it was the birthplace of Hi-NRG and acid house, and a magnet for queer celebrities. Nearly four decades later, Heaven is no longer cutting-edge, but still offers the UK’s most famous gay night out. On Thursdays it hosts the G-A-Y Porn Idol amateur strip contest, Fridays is filled with ’80s and ’90s cheese at G-A-Y Camp Attack, and Saturdays are reserved for the main G-A-Y club night, often featuring pop star PAs. Tourists and the younger crowd love it, and just about every LGBTQ+ Londoner has danced the night away here at least once.
Occupying a prominent spot on Soho’s Chinatown fringes, this large LGBTQ+ venue is regularly voted London’s best. The ground floor offers a bright and modern bar space with video screens playing chart hits; downstairs is a clubbier room where fresh-faced types of all genders dance to pop and EDM. Now called Ku Klub, it has its own side entrance and opens its doors from 10pm until 3am every day. Be prepared to queue for entry on Friday and Saturday nights, safe in the knowledge you’ll be greeted inside by some of London’s best-looking bar staff.
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