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As West 5 prepares to celebrate sixteen glorious years of being the cabaret beacon of West London with a lavish all-day party, featuring performances from more than twenty acts, Jason Reid looks back over the years of the most famous bar to be named after its own postcode… 

 


West 5 Is Born… 

In July 1998 the Spice Girls were at Number 1 in the charts with ‘Viva Forever’ (my favourite song of theirs, in case you’re at all interested), Dana International had just claimed an historic win for Israel at the Eurovision Song Contest in Birmingham, and I imagine many of us were dancing our tits off to Steps routines at the old Astoria (I know I was). Over in Ealing, however, a new baby bar was being born; from the ashes of a – wait for it – defunct ‘kiwi rock bar’ called The Flying Piano came West 5. With just two weeks turn around, the new owner and manager worked hard to transform it into a sparkling new cabaret venue. The spectacular opening night saw Topping and Butch as the first act to christen its stage.

 

A Star In The Making…  

Long before her status as a cabaret star rocketed (winning Drag Idol 2013), the very first place that Martha D’Arthur popped her drag cherry was at West 5 – initially being coaxed into co-hosting karaoke with Jackie Union in 2008, before bagging her own weekly residency which was snappily titled: Martha’s Midweek Madness Big Money Bingo.

Martha told me: ‘I took over hosting duties of the bingo nights when Miss Jason went off to do panto in December 2011. It was always a fun night with my farting Bingo ball machine, and the charity round was always a laugh. The regulars built up quite the catalogue of dirty bingo calls and we even had a couple of bingo songs. Those nights still remain very special to me.’

 

The First Party…

Also in 2008, to celebrate the venue’s tenth anniversary, the first birthday party took place. Over a dozen acts such as Rose Garden, Sandra, Julie Paid and Topping and Butch heralded in a now traditional annual event.

 

A New Era…

Returning in a different guise, formerly DJ Paxo (apparently he liked stuffing young chickens), Daniel Wood took over the day-to-day managing of the bar in December 2011.

He told me: “It’s been great to see that the owners have invested heavily into the venue, giving it a much more cosy feeling for the weekdays plus a brilliant new lighting rig for the weekends. The events that have stood out for me include: The Help for Hero’s Fund Raiser in July 2013; performances from Tight Fit, Hazell Dean, Sandra and Rose Garden and the fabulous Cheeky Girls, to name but a few.” 

 

Asifa Arrives… 

In 2012, after her success in Drag Idol, Asifa Lahore was approached by West 5 to set up a monthly Bollywood-themed club night. Disco Rani was born in September of that year and opened with a massive Bombay bang. Its main objective was to cater to West London’s large gay community, bringing all-comers together under one roof. A night where you’ll regularly see sexy gaysians grinding up against regular West 5 studs. Two years on and Disco Rani’s beat is as strong as ever.

Asifa told me: “Every Disco Rani has a different theme. Our Asian wedding themed parties are always the most popular. A particular highlight for me is when we first did a wedding theme and all our non-Asian regulars were decked out in glorious Bollywood outfits. It felt like the Maharaja’s court had come to party in West 5.”

 

The King of all Years…

2014 has been West 5’s year so far, most notably for it’s hosting of the Drag Idol Semi-Final (for the first time), which was a huge success, and for also winning the competition (again for the first time) with drag king LoUis CYfer. As well as this, Vanity Von Glow’s piano bar nights have gone from strength to strength, and new midweek quizmaster Mary Mac is a hit with the punters. So what does the immediate future hold? A lot more success by the looks of it. The return of Shinky Shonky with Boogaloo Stu, Trannyshack with Dusty O, and appearances from Drag Race favourites Adore Delano and Sharon Needles, as well as weekly performances from some of the biggest names on the UK cabaret scene.

 

• West 5’s 16th Birthday Party is on Saturday 26th July at West 5 (56 Pope’s Lane, Ealing, W5 4NB), hosted by Lola Lasagne and Sandra. 

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Saturday gay night with WLQP at The George IV pub in London

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