London’s nightlife is in jeopardy. Clubs are closing east, south and centre. Call the police. Tell the council. Actually, don’t – they’ll close more clubs.
Jokes aside, if we take a look at our European siblings – Berlin, Amsterdam, Lisbon – London is comparatively stuck in a vortex of nights at the pub ending with you crawling back to your mate’s living room and seshing ’til the early hours. Grim. At times, it’s easy to forget London birthed some of the greatest nightlife eras in history. UK Garage, the New Romantics, even mid-00s indie gigs – they all found a home in London. But now? We’re often left scratching our heads wondering where the fuck we should go out.
And then there’s queer nightlife, which poses an even bigger problem. In dire need of a face-lift, ever-closing nights and lack of spaces which cater to all make for an incredibly limited scene.
But while we’ve all been moaning and doing very little else, this Saturday Grow Tottenham – a 10,000 sq ft. community garden – will play host to a day-to-night event by Howl – “a platform for the multiplicity of queer collectives to come together” in a major celebration of difference within a newly emerged area. Collectives CAMPerVAN (made up of Samuel Douek, Zoë Marden and Fiontan Moran) and co-founders of BUM.P Nicco Torelli and Douek will join forces to “see what might happen if we make a more concerted effort to bring queer nights and art events together”, says Torelli.
Sounds great. According to Samuel, the aim is “to build new connections within queer communities that might not usually overlap”, while artist Zoë says, “The current socio-political climate is at its worst with Trump and Boris. It’s almost as if all the progress we have made is being reversed. We can’t let that happen.”
And while it might all seem like fun and games, as Zoë points out: “While great strides have been made in legislation for queer individuals, there has been a rise in attacks on queer people, which makes LGBTQ+ spaces all the more important. Especially as so many have closed down over the past decade.”
And she’s right. Southwark’s only gay club XXL, which has stood for 19 years, has been given three months to close because of – shock – redevelopments in the area. Then there’s Madame Jojo’s, Barcode Soho, Candy Bar, The Joiner’s Arms and Green Carnation which all closed between 2014 and now, leaving London’s queer nightlife feeling somewhat hollow.
Nicco, who co-founded night BUM.P (which originated at VfD and now has a permanent residency at Dalston Superstore), knows about the lack of queer nights in the City all too well. “While there are some great individual parties, it’s becoming harder for single venues to cater exclusively to a queer clientele, which makes the notion of a ‘safe space’ harder to define,” he says.
So this weekend, come down to GROW Tottenham and show some love. Even if a rave isn’t at the top of your agenda, get involved in “a discussion hosted by the polyamorous dating app Feeld titled ‘Beyond the Nuclear’”, says Zoë, or watch various performances on the CAMPerVAN stage by the likes of Otamere, Tanaka Fuego, Shay Shay, Pierre & Baby, Awkward N’dure, Bimini and Eve Stainton. And if all of that isn’t enough, end your night with a set by London nightlife legend Jeffrey Hinton. Wonderful.
A GUIDE TO RAVE ETIQUETTE
Before you get overexcited and start running toward the dancefloor, take a read through this list of rave etiquette compiled by those involved at Saturday’s event. It might just save your ass.
1). “Be naked.”
2). “Stay hydrated.”
1). “Smile. Remember that smiley rave face? It was the Summer of Love, not the Summer of Cunt.”
2). “Have some moves. There’s nothing worse than dancing that resembles a seizure.”
3). “Smints, because you ain’t gonna pull with dog breath.”
4). “A Chicken Chow Mein Pot Noodle for those after-party munchies.”
1). “Always bring back up shorts if sporting a leather/PVC look.”
2). “If you can’t remember their name for the 17th time, you can never go wrong with ‘hun’.”
3). “Sweat everywhere but remember to wipe down periodically. Someone else’s kilt will suffice.”
4). “Bring sweets, you’ll thank yourself later, oh and toilet paper… you never know.”
1). “Be responsible for the energy you bring to the space. Don’t just come to the function to consume. Add something unique to the vibe!”
2). “Get a glamorous bumbag so you can store all your various bits.”
3). “When the dance floor is good it’s going to be HOT inside, so be sure to drink plenty of water, and get an 18-inch handheld performance fan because it looks fabulous and you will need it!
4). “Bring some blueberries, so you can pack those antioxidants in and look sickening and be nutritious too!”