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June 2009 Email this to a friend


By Staff reports

Ku, London

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NOTE: This is an archive article. For an updated and expanded London article click DailyXtraTravel

Text below is an edit of June 2009

Burned to the ground in 61 AD by Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni Celts, Londinium was soon rebuilt by it's Roman founders. The prosperous city became the capital of their province of Britannia. Anglo-Saxons and Vikings vied for control after Rome left around 410, but by the time William of Normandy was crowned at Westminster Abbey in 1066, London was again the largest and richest city within what are now the British Isles.

The next millennium would see the city become the center of an empire, with the wealth of a quarter of the world flowing into its coffers. The widespread use of English around the globe is a legacy of that period. So, too, is the interesting diversity of the city's population. A third of Londoners were not born in Britain.

In the past few decades, the improvements in the lives of gay people have been truly astounding. Today's gay scene rivals that of anywhere worldwide. There's a vast array of gay bars, clubs, restaurants and saunas, meaning that no matter what time of day or night there's fun to be had.

Samuel Johnson famously said: "when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford." Two centuries later, 25 million tourists each year might agree that a trip to London will never be forgotten.

For the most part London is very safe, but for your own peace of mind keep your wallet in your front pocket. Leave your passport at your hotel (keep a photocopy with you), and use common sense when cruising.

Central Station (37 Wharfdale Rd; 20- 7278-3294) three rooms above bar in King's Cross, breakfast at the restaurant.
FitzBB (Fitzovia; 44-7834-372-866) gay B&B, quiet street, not far from Soho.
Griffin House (22 Stockwell Green; 20- 7096-3332) gay-run holiday apartments near Vauxhall gay village.
Outlet Holidays (Outlet4holidays.com) Soho studio apartments, multi-level units, daily or weekly rentals.
Swinton Hotel (18 Swinton St; 20-7837- 1451) central location in King's Cross, relaxed vibe, modern rooms with bath/showers.
SohoBB (Old Compton and Charing Cross; 7834- 372-866) two double rooms share kitchenette and bathroom,.
West End Apartment (West End; 20- 7486-0855) guest room share with owner, Marylebone mansion.

Bars, pubs, & cafes
Gay life is everywhere across this vast metropolitan area, but Central London is a good place to start. Soho's Old Compton Street is a major artery with plenty of bars and pubs. The partying is non-stop from Friday until late Sunday night. Denim and Dicks, Hustlaball, Salvation, and Matinee are some of an ever- changing line-up of special nights at dance halls around the city. See the local gay magazines to keep up with all that's happening.

Soho & Central London
79 CXR (79 Charing Cross Rd) West End, shoulder-to-shoulder cruising, open front for street stargazing.
Admiral Duncan (54 Old Compton St) famous raspberry exterior, across from Comptons.
Balans West (34 and 60 Old Compton St) bar and cafe, stylish light fare in club and theater district.
Bar Code (3/4 Archer St) fetching staff, upstairs rocks nightly with top DJs, downstairs entertainment.
Box (Seven Dials, 32-34 Monmouth St) open and airy in Covent Garden.
Comptons Of Soho (53 Old Compton St) two levels, always crowded by late afternoon, spills onto the street.
Duke of Wellington (77 Wardour St, Soho) conversation video bar, mixed ages, busy early, decent prices.
Edge (11 Soho Sq) Euro-style bar and cafe, overlooks square, attractive crowd, dancing, fills up early.
Escape Bar (10A Brewer St, Soho) video bar, classics to latest releases, young Latino, Continental, and English crowd.
First Out Cafe (52 Giles High St) neighborhood bar and cafe, 18+ mixed crowd, veggie menu, juices and shakes.
Freedom (66 Wardour St, Soho) trendy early evenings, occasional spicy Mediterranean nights with shows.
Friendly Society (79 Wardour St, Soho), Barbie-doll ceilings, friendly vibe, 18+ mixed crowd.
G-A-Y (30 Old Compton St, Soho) elegant video bar on three levels, cheap drinks and bagels.
G-A-Y Late (5 Goslett Yd) modern style, late-night lounge and dance club, near Leicester Square.
Heaven (under The Arches) (under the Arches, off Villiers St) legendary dance club, three rooms, amateur strip contests.
Halfway II Heaven (7 Duncannon St) traditional pub upstairs, downstairs intimate encounters.
Ku Bar / Ku Klub (30 Lisle St) young lads, three floors, cheap drinks, comedy club.
Ku Bar (25 Frith St) second location, fine coffees, teas and sweets afternoons, three floors of music evenings.
Kudos (10 Adelaide St) European and Asian crowd, gorgeous bartenders, light meals, big-screen music videos.
Lo-Profile (84-86 Wardour St, Soho) busy basement dance club, hot guys, drag divas.
Madame JoJo's (8-10 Brewer St, Soho) live bands, classic burlesque and cabaret, famous Tranny Shack Wednesday.
Piccolo Diavolo (8 Old Compton St, Soho) good pizza and pasta, reasonably priced lunches and dinners.
Retro Bar (2 George Ct) bar and lounge off the Strand, retro sounds, gaming machines.
Rupert Street Cafe Bar (50 Rupert St) light fare all day, stylish ambiance, young and fashionable professional crowd.
Stag (15 Bressenden Pl) Victoria Station sanctuary, pub grub menu, fish and chips recommended, dancing weekends.
Trash Palace (11 Wardour St) alternative to golden oldies, hip vibe, young Piccadilly crowd.
Vault (139b-143 Whitfield St) cruising, dark rooms, mixed age range, underwear and naked nights.
Village (81 Wardour St, Soho) split-level space, cool vibe, younger set hangout.
Yard Bar (57 Rupert St) fashionable scene, fresh-air seating in inner courtyard.

East London
Backstreet (Wentworth Mews) serious gay fetish club, rubber, leather, naked nights, dedicated following.
Ghetto (58 Old St, Barbican) 'odd glamour' decor, internet juke box, cheap drinks, party-boy dance club.
Images (483 Hackney Rd, Bethel Green) 'Gutterslut' parties, nude dancers, attire to amaze.
Last Days of Decadence (145 Shoreditch High St) art-deco club, live music and shows, artsy crowd, all genders.
White Swan (556 Commercial Rd) pub, strippers, slapstick entertainment, live DJs and drag shows.

West London
Escape Kingston (184 London Rd, Kingston) dance club and lounge, students, young professionals.
Ted's Place (305a North End Rd, West Brompton) private club, very cruisy, men-only and transgender nights.
Windsor Castle (152 Bath Rd, Hounslow) local pub with seven nights of entertainment, contests, all- hours menu.

North London
Black Cap (171 Camden High St) classic pub, rooftop terrace, drag stars include Lily Savage and Reginas Fong.
Central Station (37 Wharfdale Rd, Kings Cross) cabaret shows, restaurant, roof terrace, free internet.
Club Kali @ Dome (3rd Fridays) (178 Junction Rd, Tufnell Park) only South Asian music GBLT event, each 3rd Friday, with BBC DJ Ritu.
Green (74 Upper St, Islington) trendy bar and restaurant.
Underground Club (37 Wharfdale Rd; under Central Station), men-only fetish, rubber, spanking, naked, and cruise parties.

Vauxhall & South London
Arches (51-53 Southwark St) big dance venue, circuit parties, bears to musclemen.
Area (67-68 Albert Embankment; Vauxhall) massive club, shirtless hunks, club kids, Latinos, after-hours Sunday.
Barcode Vauxhall (69 Albert Embankment, Vauxhall) warm-up place for bears and dance crowd.
Club Colosseum (1 Nine Elms Lane) big Indie club, serious dancing, variety of music, special party nights.
Eagle (349 Kennington Lane) big beer selection, pool games, cruisy, leather and fetish nights.
Ego @ Southern Pride (82 Norwood High St, West Norwood) southeast London club, karaoke and house parties, behind Southern Pride.
Fire (South Lambeth Rd) cutting-edge lighting and sound system, muscle guys mix with club kids.
Fort (131 Grange Rd, off Tower Bridge Rd) dark rooms, glory holes, blackout parties, boots-only nights.
Fridge (1 Town Hall Parade, Brixton Hill) big dance party, performances and special events.
Hidden (100 Tinsworth St, Vauxhall) serious dancing, latest in sound and lights, fetish parties.
Hoist (47 South Lambeth Rd) raunchy fetish bar, bears, skinheads, buff guys.
Royal Vauxhall Tavern (372 Kennington Lane) drag shows, male burlesque, diverse ages, shirtless lads Sunday.
Two8Six (286 Lewisham High St) biggest gay club in the southeast outer suburbs.
Union (66 Albert Embankment, Vauxhall) cruising, dancing, glory holes, cabins, spanking, jack-off and underwear nights.

VG Club (20-7259-2529) Earl's Court location, in or out service, dinner date or overnight companion.

Saunas & Gyms
England's largest chain is Chariots, and in London there are five locations, each with video rooms, internet connections and around-the-clock hours Wednesday to Monday.
Chariots Limehouse (574 Commercial Rd) big hot tub and three floors of playspace.
Chariots Shoreditch (1 Fairchild St) heated pool, hot tubs, 30-man steam rooms, full gym, massage.
Chariots Streatham (292 Streatham High Rd) three hot cabins, cinemas, video rooms, tanning bed.
Chariots Vauxhall (63-64 Albert Embankment) 20-man steam room, 30-man sauna, dark rooms.
Chariots Waterloo (101 Lower March) UK's largest sauna, 40-man steam room, huge cruising maze.
E15 Club (6 Leytonstone Rd, Stratford) small sauna and steam room, hot tub, local rough trade and regular types.
Locker Room (8 Cleaver St, Kennington) local men's sauna, cruisy dark rooms, video lounge.
Paris Gym (73 Goding St, Vauxhall) fully equipped gym, mixed gay/straight crowd, serious body conditioning.
Pleasuredrome (125 Alaska St, Waterloo) "gym with everything," large men-only sauna and spa, always open.
Saunabar Covent Garden (29 Endell St, Covent Garden) huge whirlpool, comfy bar, after-work relaxation, steam, massage.
Saunabar Portsea (2 Portsea Pl, Marble Arch) small gay sauna with bar, massage specialty.
Star Stream (38 Lavender Hill, Battersea) saunas (one very hot), steam, videos, sling room, outdoor patio.
Steamworks (309 New Cross Rd, New Cross) 20-man sauna, steam, sling, refreshments.
Sweatbox (1-2 Ramillies St) sauna, gym, massage, house DJs.

Shopping & Services
BFI Filmstore (Belvedere Rd, South Bank, Waterloo) classic screenplays, limited edition DVDs.
Blue Rose (4 Kentish Town Rd) sex shop to tickle your fancy.
Clone Zone - Earls Court (266 Old Brompton Rd) gay chain, fashion and fetish wear.
Clone Zone - Soho (64 Old Compton St) CDs videos, books, magazines, ticket sales, staff knows the local scene.
DV8 (50 Old Compton St, Soho) masculine fashions and accessories, styles from sports to military.
Expectations (75 Great Eastern St, off Old St) leather, rubber, fetish, toys, undies, guides, erotic books and comics.
Fetish Freak (S Lambeth Rd, next to Hoist) everything for your leather/fetish/bondage needs.
Frolic Room Art Gallery (77 Beak St, #31, Soho) gay artists, sexy male paintings, leather archive.
Gay's the Word (66 Marchmont St) London's leading gay and lesbian bookshop, near King's Cross.
ICA (The Mall) best of new art and film from Britain and around the world, bookstore and cafe.
Master U (330 Kennington Lane, Vauxhall) custom-crafted leather, bondage gear, toys accessories.
Private Sculpture (phone 07961 338 045) torso or genital castings in everything from plaster to chocolate.
Prowler- Camden (283 Camden High St) books, skin mags, videos, gadgets, lubes, novelties.
Prowler- Soho (3-7 Brewer St) books, videos, large enclosed porn section, fashion wear, variety of poppers.
Regulation (17a St. Albans Pl, Islington Green) bondage accoutrements, leather, rubber, underwear, accessories.
Rob London (24 Wells St,� West End) leather/rubber emporium, quality clothing, toys, accessories
Urban Wellbeing (7 Silver Pl, Soho) salon, laser hair removal, acupuncture, tanning.

For fans of theater, London's West End needs no introduction.
For direct and discounted tickets, try
Londontheatreboxoffice.net or
Above the Stag Theatre (15 Bressenden Pl) Shameless Theatre productions include such gay titles as Cabaret Whore.
Barbican Europe's largest music, theater, dance, and film center, home to London Symphony Orchestra.
Bears Movie Club bears meet to go to movies each month, visitors welcome.
Jermyn Street Theatre (16-B Jermyn St) new talent showcased at studio venue.
Southbank Centre three buildings of music, dance, and visual arts, plus the London Philharmonic and Sinfonietta Orchestra.

British Museum has a vast collection of world art and artifacts, free to visitors.
Kew Gardens extensive gardens and botanical greenhouses, draws 2 million visitors each year.
London Eye the 'Millennium Wheel' has views of the city from 443 feet.
National History Museum life and earth science specimens include famous dinosaurs.
Tate Museum has a current show beside the Thames that reunites William Blake works from an 1809 display.
The Tate Boat ferries you to the Tate Modern with it's contemporary collections at Bankside. Departures every 40 minutes.
Victoria and Albert Museum (Cromwell Rd) world's greatest collection of decorative arts and design.

Getting here
Gatwick and Heathrow airports get most international arrivals. Express trains from Heathrow to Paddington Station take 15 minutes. The Gatwick Express takes 30 minute to Victoria Station. Tickets can be bought online or on the train. A return ticket is good for up to 30 days.
Stansted Airport has an express train to Liverpool Street Station or buses to Victoria Station. Luton Airport has a free shuttle bus to Luton Parkway Station, where you can catch a train to Kings Cross/St. Pancreas Station.
Eurostar trains from Europe arrive at Waterloo station.

Getting around
Getting around London is a snap. Taxis are everywhere, buses are frequent, and the Underground (better known as 'the Tube') goes most everywhere. An Oyster card, available at customer service counters, will save about half the price of single Underground tickets. For information on all public transport options, see Tfl.gov.uk.

Community Centre
John Bull Community Centre (64 Tyres St, Vauxhall) classes, exhibitions, events, resources, weekday coffee shop 10am to 5pm.

Local Media
BOYZ Magazine, GayTimes, and Pink Paper have gay news, reviews, club updates, escort listings. Gay- to-Z and Gaylondontravel.com are helpful gay websites.
AXM Magazine, 2Bexposed and YVY Magazine are three of many publications on gay style, fashion, and photography.

Event Planner
March and April
London Lesbian & Film Festival
Queer cinema from around the world.

June and July
London Pride
This 'fortnight of fun' centers around the July 4 parade, which starts at 1pm on Oxford Street, rounds Piccadilly, goes down Regent Street, and finishes in Trafalgar Square.
June 20-July 5

George Michael is reported to have said 'Fuck off! This is my culture,' when caught with pants down in Hampstead Heath. As Mark Turner of King's College writes in the Guardian newspaper: 'queer encounters in parks, on embankments, in toilets, streets and back alleys are an integral part of the way our cities, and sexualities, express themselves.'
Turner, who wrote Backward Glances: Cruising the Queer Streets of New York and London, recommends Hampstead Heath, extolling the crowd of 'leather queens, randy teenagers, local husbands, young and old, black and white.' He complains, however, at the distance one must walk. 'Have you ever tried getting a taxi at Jack Straw's Castle at 4am?'
Hyde Park is noted as runner-up, as well as the more international option. Russell Square and Bloomsbury Square, once cruisy with students, office workers and pickpockets, are both now locked up at night.

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