Save Our Scene! The closure of Profile and Lo-Profile last week is just the latest in a sad line of venue closures to hit the gay scene. London may still proudly boast the world’s most diverse gay scene, but it’s more important than ever to support your favourite local to keep London’s nightlife alive…

London is perhaps the greatest gay city in the world. There is more choice and more diversity than any other European – or international – city can offer. Want high quality clubbing 24 hours a day through the weekend? Fine. Feel like checking out an LGBT film festival? No problem. Gay panto? Sure. Outrageous burlesque and post-gay queer cabaret? We’ve got it covered.

But, all is not well. There seems to be a worrying trend towards our vital LGBT venues and services struggling through the recession with some much-loved bars and hugely popular clubs closing their doors. So what’s going down in London-town?

Last week, the scene was rocked by the shocking news that GaydarRadio – the UK’s award-winning LGBT digital radio station – will cease to broadcast and is transferring its radio licences to the lesser-known Manchester-based station, Gaydio. An outpour of emotional and heartfelt posts and comments on Twitter and Facebook shows the strength of feeling Londoners have towards the station, which reached three quarters of a million people per month. Not just an antidote to the hetero-centric mainstream stations, Gaydar was a platform to push and support LGBT artists and DJs, play listing our releases, interviewing our personalities, defining an era with its upbeat sound. It’s a sound, and a service, that will be sorely missed by London’s gay community. QSoft Consulting, which owns the Gaydar brands and owned the station says they have transferred the license ‘to focus on its core business’ – the Gaydar dating brands, websites and mobile apps.

This was followed by another shock announcement – the popular Soho venues Profile and Lo-Profile also closed with immediate effect. Another sad loss for the scene; one less club to pop into, one less bar to meet in, and one more faction of the scene no longer catered for in Soho.

“What we value as a scene should not be taken for granted.”

Joining Profile and Lo-Profile in the gay grave over the recession-hit years are many other much-loved venues: Ghetto, The Box, Bromptons, The Stag, 79 CXR, Kudos, Two 8 Six, Bar Aquda, Powder Monkey, Rose & Crown, Greyhound Windsor, The Green, King Edward VI, Barcode Soho, The Coleherne and The Philbeach. Add to the list all the clubs and events that no longer take place and it paints a worrying picture.

Of course, there remain bastions of strength – the East London scene is a bustling Mecca of mixed-sexuality debauchery, G-A-Y is packed as ever, many Soho bars remain busy, solid locals like the Two Brewers are going strong, and Vauxhall’s clubs continue to pack a mighty punch. But one should not assume that they will always be there and events will continue to happen. What we value as a scene should not be taken for granted.

So, what’s to blame? Finances clearly play a mighty role in the conundrum. The UK economy has taken a severe beating since 2007 and with the Coalition government continuing along a path of austerity, the jobs market is tough and unemployment has risen. That sneaky sick day after a night out doesn’t seem so appealing when people are losing their jobs left, right and centre. And the gay boozers need their locals to support them every night – not just the big Saturdays. Outside the UK, the Eurozone continues to stagnate which could potentially be contributing to lower number of gay tourists, further exacerbating the problem. Is it fair to say that the Pink Pound – once so eagerly courted by banks and shops alike – is not what it was?

Or, perhaps we’re simply following the path of non-gay businesses across the country. 18 pubs are said to close each week due to a combination of increased taxes and rising beer prices. Plus, for the Soho-based businesses, Westminster council is notoriously difficult with regards to licensing. Soho is in a blackspot for new licensed premises, within an area that has its fare share of alcohol-related issues.

Plus, the major focal points for the community to showcase what it does best seem to be few and far between. A summer’s afternoon at a busy Pride event could attract new customers and remind the older ones why they enjoy the scene. But, London’s ‘World Pride’ 2012 was a total shambles, scaled back to a shadow of it’s former self and presenting a sorry sight for the international gays who descended on our capital. And Soho Pride is no more, mired in controversy and replaced by the lacklustre Soho Pink Sundays, which sadly failed to pack much of a punch last year. There is some optimism though, with a new, competent Pride board announced this week looking to reinvigorate the event, perhaps it’s not all doom and gloom for our flagship celebration.

Few would contest that a strong, diverse scene is a positive thing for the gay community, and for London in general.

On the up-side, business confidence had shown a marked improvement towards the end of 2012, with a modest growth in the economy forecast for the final quarter of the year by the Bank of England. So the message should be clear: get out there, support your pubs, clubs and bars, don’t assume it’ll all still be there in a few years time – they need your support if they’re to continue making London what it is today.



  1. London has a massive advantage but even in crisis stricken Europe many other cities are fighting to stel its crown, Whilst Paris and Berlin don’t have te same soho vibe – compare the Marais or the gay area of Berlin any night to Com;ton street and you’re having a larf, Europe’s continental gay capitals offer a more cutting edge and less commercialised approach. I have had more fun a at Scream Party on a Saturday night than I have ever had in a early evening (ie before 6 am) London party and under the direction of Scream and a more gay friendly Socialist government gay clubbing in gai Paree is going from strenth to strengh. As for La Demence and Berghain, Greenkom, Rapidido – London must be careful not to rest on its laurels and should look to innovate more rather than giving more of the same tried and trusted formulas if it is to remain number one!


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