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Jason Reid shows that even on a Tuesday in January, there’s still a glitteringly camp night out to be had on London’s gay scene.

 


Any night can be a good night out if you hit the right venues and you’re in good company. Personally, I’m a fan of spontaneity, which is probably why I’m perpetually skint. I’m forever making ridiculous and instantaneous spending decisions when really I should be saving up for a mortgage and all that boring, sensible adult stuff.

There’s always something going on out there in cabaret land, be it 9pm on Tuesday or midnight on Saturday. Queens, kings and performance artists offer the escapism we all need (for the sake of our sanity) from time to time.

In the week that Donald Drumpf was due to be inaugurated and my consciousness seemed to be taken over by a never ending stream of perplexing bullshit, I decided it was time for a night out. And yes, it was only Tuesday, but I needed escapism in the form of music and bright colours, and I needed it immediately, so I made my way from leafy west London and my wee pal Stephanie Von Clitz jumped on one of those dead reliable southern trains from Brighton and we headed OUT!

 


8:38pm

Bar Wotever, Royal Vauxhall Tavern

As I practically live at the RVT we thought it’d be a good place to start the night, and Tuesdays are London’s only weekly queer variety night, founded by Ingo Cando. Bar Wotever defies norms and embraces difference – this is reflected in the clientele and the diverse nature of the acts that are booked to perform.

We arrived a tad early so I had a nose around to get a feel for the vibe – it was friendly and surprisingly busy for a Tuesday. Throughout January, Bar Wotever has been highlighting talented – and often underrepresented – artists of colour. Host Travis Alabanza started the night off with a kick-ass lip-sync performance, which was followed by open mic. The crowd were engaged, and when I say that I mean there wasn’t dozens of people tip-tapping away on their phones, practically all eyes were on the performers. Check out Bar Wotever in February when Virgin Xtravaganzah will be the guest host for the month and they’ll be paying special heed to LGBT History Month. Alas it was time for us to leave the loving atmosphere of the RVT and head ‘up west’ as they say in Eastenders.

 


9:38pm

Cookie Monstar, Molly Moggs

A few minutes on the ever reliable Victoria Line and we emerged out of Oxford Circus station and dived down the back streets of Soho. It was at this point we almost got lost – a drag queen and a notorious drag hag who’s lived in London for fifteen years. I put it down to the lack of alcohol, so as soon as we got to the bar we rectified that: ‘Two bottles of Desperado and two shots please, dear.’

Cookie was on good form, shimmering under the lights as she treated the gathering of tourists and queers to a medley of musical styles, sharp and pointed wit, and even choreography – which is hard to do on a stage that’s no bigger than the average drag bag. Molly Moggs is another special place that often gets overlooked by drag snobs. It’s a consistent venue with absolutely no attitude. People from all walks of life and corners of the world pop in for the free shows. It’s perfect for people-watching too; I should know, I worked there for several years. I was MUCH younger.

 


10:22pm

Martha D’Arthur, Admiral Duncan

Our final stop of the night (I was determined not to have a late one, new leaf and all that) and it was like a who’s who of the scene – on a Tuesday?!? Titti La Camp, Jimmy Smith (Brewers), The Duchess (George and Dragon), and even that Nancy Clench were all out in force to see Martha perform. It wasn’t as busy as the previous bars but the atmosphere certainly made up for it, and landlady Oliver is always very welcoming.

Martha eased us into the week beautifully with her dulcet tones and delightful demeanour. Admiral Duncan is keeping pub cabaret alive on Old Compton Street and they put great effort into their nights, so pay them a visit!

 

• Bar Wotever is every Tuesday at The Royal Vauxhall Tavern, 372 Kennington Lane, SE11 5HY

• Molly Moggs is open every night and has a rotation of acts throughout the week. 2 Old Compton Street, W1D 4TA The Admiral Duncan is at 54 Old Compton Street, W1D 4UB

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