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It’s Mark again, your friendly fitness fanatic and founder of Workout with Pride (a Workout group for the LGBTQIA community). We do everything from strength and spinning to personal training, so book a free class with us and use the code QXFRIEND on our website before you do anything. www.workoutwithpride.co.uk

It seemed like yesterday when Compton Street was full of fancy dress as Halloween carried in some much-needed cheer. We saw some horrific sights in the form of Liz Truss and cabbages resembling her. As the parties were in full swing, the supermarkets coughed up Christmas right under our noses, as store windows displayed the usual walls of Quality Street, Roses and Celebration tubs. Officially, the festive season is here.

For many, it’s a time of celebration, the giving and receiving gifts. For some, it can mean empty pockets, overindulgence, and loneliness, especially for those in the Queer community who often find themselves without a family after coming out.

A few years ago, my grandmother unfortunately died. To cope with her loss, I put everything into the one thing that brought me joy, and that was my fitness group, Workout with Pride. 

I continued all my classes, writing programmes and planning our events. But while I was standing in a queue for gifts one evening, I realised that I wouldn’t see my grandmother again! This wave of emotion rushed over me; I ran for the exit before the tears flowed. Easier said than done when stuffed in a Primark after a Black Friday clear-out. 

Queer fitness, staying connected and Workout with PRIDE – try a class for free!

When I got home, I disconnected and didn’t speak to anyone. I was broken, devastated by a loss that I had suppressed and denied; It was nearly two weeks before I left my flat. At this time, my phone could have been mistaken for a vibrator, buzz (ping) message, buzz (ping) email, buzz (novelty melody) call. It seemed to elevate my anxiety, I felt I needed to justify myself, but I didn’t know how to reply! Staring into space for what seemed like forever, I finally reached out to my trusted friends and family about what was going on in my head; I was lucky that I had a great support system which picked me up when I felt depressed and gave me the care I needed.

I now have a very different view coming into Christmas, a healthy relationship with myself, and I recognise that sometimes circumstances can make us feel alone, unsettled or even lost at this time of year. At workout with pride, we hold a festive party, a time for everyone to get together. Many of our members are not from the UK so bringing a sense of family and community is extremely important to us, not just for Christmas but throughout the year.

Recognising triggers is a big step toward avoiding an anxiety spiral; one area, in particular, was my alcohol consumption. It’s, therefore, refreshing to look around the scene in 2022. Bars are now bursting with alcohol-free options, Sober raves are popping up, and non-festive activities are now easier to find using platforms such as meetup, so before we call in 2023, here are my top tips for feeling funky and festive this winter.

Alpha Dancers

Maybe you’ve been sober for a while or just taking a break; you want to rebuild your confidence without a drink. Here’s a great way to learn something new and bring it to the dance floor. Look no further than The Alpha Dancers group, an LGBTQIA dance group that meets Wednesdays and Saturdays. Director of the Alphas Garry often picks songs based around LGBTQ+ anthems and the fantastic artists that create them. Each class is one hour, followed by a post-dance social to meet new friends and fellow dancers. Dancing improves overall motor skills such as coordination, balance, and physical strength. If you have two left feet and still trying to master a sidestep or are someone who could give Beyonce a run for her money, The alphas have something for everyone, and everyone is made to feel welcome.

Check out the Alpha Dancers on IG @alphadancers_lgbtq_

House of Happiness

You’ve learnt the moves, and now it’s time to turn it up on the dance floor and slay your newly learnt routine (heel, toe, heel, toe, step step step). House of Happiness is a fabulous new clubbing experience, offering a drug and alcohol-free inclusive experience for the queer community. By the looks of it, House of happiness knows how to throw a party with amazing DJs and drag artists. What more could you ask? The next sober clubbing session is Dec 17th at Fire and lightbox in Vauxhall. Please book your tickets via Eventbrite or head to their Instagram page for more info.

To find out more, check out @houseofhappinnesoffical on IG.

While I write this, it’s hard not to think of all the awful news we see daily covering events against our community, from the controversial World Cup in Qatar to the tragic shooting in Colorado. Right now, more than ever, we need to support each other. Laws can be reversed, and the curriculum in schools can change. We, as a community, need to stick together. We are stronger together. The work we do now is for the youth of tomorrow. Stay strong, and lots of love.

Remember to check out next month’s issue when I explore the dos and don’ts when picking personal trainers, Starting a fitness routine the right way and training into your 50s.

Inclusive sober raving in the House of Happiness

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What’s on this week

Eagle Fridays club night at Eagle London gay bar.
Friday night bank holiday queer party at The Divine queer club in London.
Club Tantrum at Dalston Superstore
Cheer Up gay club night at The Royal Vauxhall Tavern
Feel It gay club
Klub in Soho Friday night
Desi Pride at Circa LGBTQ+ club
Wrong Techno After Hours party