Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Time, gentlemen, please!

Eddy closed

It's a bit of a week for gay bars closing, it seems...

Last night I discovered that the sleaze-pit The King Edward VI in Islington, one of London's longest-serving gay establishments (it was gay in the late 1970s!), closed its doors for good on the weekend. With its horseshoe bar and beer garden, this was one of the first bars I went to in London back in the late 80s/early 90s, and after moving to North London it became a very regular haunt of ours - particularly good for a very late-night bevvy!

Unfortunately the abysmal management of the place drove staff and punters alike away - the door policy seemed to be "it doesn't matter whether they are psychotic, druggy or homophobic, as long as they buy a drink we'll let them in", and you never knew who would be serving you from one week to the next, the staff turnover was so high... The Eddy was dying a slow death, and now it seems the owner Kay has finally decided to put it out of its misery. Let's hope that someone who actually cares about running a gay bar for gay people (rather than the dregs of humanity) steps in to buy it. I doubt that will happen, however.

This Saturday (18 June) it is the turn of BarCode in Soho to close. Another bar that Madam Arcati and I have propped up over the years, BarCode filled a convenient niche for after-work drinkies very nicely with its daily happy hour, its peculiarly intimate shared-table layout, and the very cute bar staff (and later in the evening, decent DJs such as Stewart Who, Brent Nicholls and Faye Lanson, and a more cruisy atmosphere). This back-street Soho institution grew to rival the predominance of its older neighbour The Village, and pre-dated Rupert Street bar by several years.

However its nasty "Noo Yawk"-style neon makeover in 2008 and the rising prices of its drinks alienated many people, myself included. Now it seems the Paul Raymond legacy is being dismantled (the late strip-club entrepreneur owned most of the properties in that part of Soho) and Archer Street is going a bit more upmarket (in preparation for the arrival of the new hotel being built at its end) which means rents are going up. BarCode has a very successful sister venue in Vauxhall, so it seems they have decided to cut their losses and quit the West End...

It doesn't stop there, either - we've been told that Ku Bar in Lisle Street Kudos bar in Adelaide Street near Charing Cross [my mistake] is closing soon, Islington's only other gay bar The Green closes this year, Escape bar in Berwick Street is apparently under threat (again), The Black Cap in Camden is allegedly being run into the ground (the brewery wants to turn it into a straight music venue I am told), and there is a rumour about the future of the King William IV in Hampstead (another gay venue that has been around since time immemorial) as it has changed management again recently.

All very sad indeed.


  1. All very sad but they served us well when we needed them and we certainly had some fab times in all of them.



  2. all very sad - I've drunk in all of the bars mentioned in this blog.

    I know the scene always changes but its particularly sad when you see new management that don't care and let a place go to ruin.

    If the Black Cap closes it will be especially sad as its such a great venue with so much history - we really need to go out and support gay venues more often … although rising drink prices and the smoking ban have seen lots of pubs close every week - gay and straight.

  3. The irony of it is where the Cap is concerned is that the artistes who have worked their falsies off to make the place such a success are the ones who are feeling the most neglected by the new management... Jx

  4. STOP PRESS: BarCode apparently has a stay of execution till after Gay Pride... Jx


Please leave a message - I value your comments!