We get the lowdown on one of the biggest, beariest parties of the year!
Buckle in babes because this is the biggest weekend in the bear calendar! Taking place in several venues all over London, Bear Pride is a four-day bear bender of booze, beats and back hair, with thousands of hirsute hunks descending on the capital for YET ANOTHER Bank Holiday blowout. As well as bringing the bear community together, it also raises thousands of pounds for Albert Kennedy Trust, a charity that helps the disproportionate number of young LGBTQ people facing homelessness, so you can feel a deep sense of generosity while you sidle seductively over to a muscle bear called Reg on the XXL dance floor. So without further ado, here’s a look at what the weekend has in store for ya!
Things kick off on Friday in Two Brewers with an actual Eurovision winner in attendance! Katrina, formerly of And The Waves theme, will be rattling through the outfit’s hits, including Love Shine A Light, which was the last UK entry to win the competition. At the time of writing, this year’s contest hasn’t actually taken place and SuRie could render that last sentence void. However, we’re going to go out on a massive limb and just leave it as it is. Anyway, Katrina will be joined by the Flying Scotsmaneater Mary Mac, plus grizzly anthems until late from DJ Demon and Phil Marriott!
Friday 25th May at Two Brewers, 114 Clapham High Street, SW2 7UJ, 8pm-4am, free before 10pm, £7 after
XXL Bear Pride
Here’s the hulking, harness-clad daddy of the weekend: a 12-hour XXL special overflowing with big-name DJs and cabaret stars! Think a regular Saturday night down in XXL, but ramped up to about 40% more furrier, give or take. DJ duo Moto Blanco will be in the main arch dipping in their bag of floor-filling, big-room remixes, alongside residents Paul Morrell and Alex Logan. Dave Robson and Joe Egg take up their usual stations on planet pop, while the lounge will be open for the evening with performances from the acid-tongued Myra Dubois, RuPaul alumni Miss Peppermint, Doctor Woof and Miss Sherry Vine!
Saturday 26th May at Pulse, 1 Invicta Plaza, South Bank, SE1 9UF, 9pm-9am, members £11, guests £16
If you’ve not caught one of Pagano’s storming sets before, then Sunday night is your chance! The Italian beatmaker is behind the decks for a solid 9 hours, which is just nuts isn’t it. We’ve never done something for 9 hours. We normally get bored doing anything after the first 15 minutes. In the second room, you can catch the boys behind Beefmince, which has been taking Vauxhall by storm in the past year with its man-filled, meat-packing monthly discos!
Sunday 27th May at Pulse, 1 Invicta Plaza, South Bank, SE1 9UF, 10pm-7am, members £11, guests £16
Mr Bear Pride
The weekend culminates with a search for Mr Bear Pride at Vauxhall den of debauchery, Eagle! Who has the beauty, eccentricity, alacrity and rigour to stroll away with the hairy crown? Wow, hairy crown, that sounded fine in our head. Too late, we’ve already written it down! If you fancy competing, get in touch with Jimmy Smith of Two Brewers, but you’re more than free to just admire the ursine contestants from afar and enjoy Eagle’s infamous burger-flipping BBQ out in the garden!
Sunday 28th May at Eagle London, 349 Kennington Lane, SE11 5QY, 9pm until late
Hey Mark! On a scale of 1 to out of control, how excited are you for Bear Pride?
101 and then some; its going to be bigger, better and bolder then ever! Bear Pride (or Bear Necessity in 2002/3) was there to make a fringe (to some freak) part of the gay scene, known and acceptable, and to show that not all gays are obsessed with looks and muscles, and that shockingly, men over 30 should still be able to show their faces! Thankfully, that attitude is mostly gone and it’s fascinating to see how trendy a beard, belly and work ware has become around places like Hoxton. Clubs like XXL have allowed many to meet the loves of their lives, to free themselves from self-inferiority or low self-esteem, and to take off their tops of in public without fear of criticism. I welcome you all to Bear Pride as inside even the skinniest twink is a cub or bear to be born!
Why do you think we need Bear Pride alongside the regular Pride?
Bear Pride is to say “we are here and love or hate us, don’t underrate us!” In this day and age, it’s to easy to forget that in the bars and clubs that once were our only lifelines to meet and support each other, our body shape and image was often not to the liking of the gay scene. The fact is that we are still not equal in some minds, so please get out and support not just the likes off XXL, but also the Two Brewers, RVT, Eagle, Kings Arms and groups like BearHug and Bowling for Bears, even Bears Against Bigots!
What was your favourite moment from last year’s weekend?
So many! Eagle’s Mr Bear had a wonderful host and atmosphere, and Hazel Dean at the Brewers, still in great voice! I still can’t unsee Doctor Woof’s exposé either, but perhaps best of all was seeing the packed dance floors and hearing 2000 voices, not unlike a rugby or football stadium on a Saturday afternoon, singing Bad Romance! Big, bold and beary blokes who have left the issues behind and were just enjoying the companionship and ownership of our body’s shape, hairiness, aging, lines, while saying it’s all still good, still working and still desired!
Which special guests have you got along this year?
Everyone’s a special guest at XXL, but there’s one special guy for me this year. He is a 49-year-old coming to London who has never been with a man as he has hidden his desires as a result of religion, marriage and shame. I hope that this weekend changes everything for him, as the only shame lies with society and family who stopped him being whole and happy for most of his life!
You’re raising money this weekend for Albert Kennedy Trust. Why have you chosen that charity?
I guess this is the old bear in me, but I feel protective over our scene and its younger members. It’s important to help the needy and AKT is right there for many when it’s needed. Don’t take my word though, go out and help them, ether by donations or get active with them first hand!