Since the 18th century, Vauxhall has defined London nightlife. Today, it’s home to the biggest, most dynamic, and vibrant LGBTQIA+ resident population in the country. So grab your pals, throw on your glad rags, and get yourself over to one (or all!) of these seven iconic gay bars and club nights for dusk to dawn dancing and a guaranteed good time. Catch you on the dancefloor!
Immediately recognisable from its all-black exterior, The Eagle is one of the most iconic independent gay venues in London. Equally respected as a pub or a club, it’s perfect for a few drinks with friends in the spacious beer garden, playing pool, or dancing until the early hours of the morning. Open until 4am on Fridays and Saturday, it generally attracts a mostly male clientele but welcomes an eclectic mix of people. Events include weekly drag shows, wrestling nights, and DJ parties.
Every Sunday night until 3am, The Eagle is taken over by the legendary all-inclusive Horse Meat Disco. Established in 2004, co-founders James Hillard and Jim Stanton and residents Severino and Luke Howard have not only maintained the weekly Sunday club night but have several residencies across the world, as well as festival dates, guest slots, and specially curated mixes. Expect everything from Italo disco, to post funk, and disco to groove the night away.
Believe it or not, this world-renowned pub-cum-club is London’s oldest surviving gay venue. The Grade II listed building has a history that dates back to the Victorian era, built on land that was originally part of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. This gay stalwart has been famed as an LGBTQ+ cabaret venue since the 1980s, attracting a huge range of leading international artists including Belinda Carlisle, Mutya Buena, Gabrielle and many more. Open every night of the week, drop by for weekly club nights and a star-studded lineup of cabaret drag acts.
Every last Friday of the month, RVT transforms into a pop paradise playing all the hits from the 90s to the present day – this one’s definitely for the millennials! Past club night themes have ranged from the Sugababes, Miley Cyrus, Kylie Minogue, and Lady Gaga, with Beyoncé lined up for the end of May. Music starts from 10pm and runs until 4am with glittered up pop sensation performances from around midnight. You won’t be forgetting this one in a hurry.
This popular and relatively new bar is a good alternative for thirty-somethings looking to avoid the venues attracting younger crowds. With a quirky past which spans from its Georgian pub roots to a stint as a tiki bar in 2003, the Cock now boasts an eclectic decor which pays homage to its long legacy. Since its current owners took over in 2018, the bar has reclaimed its original name and its interior celebrates both its Georgian and tiki past with dim lighting, plenty of colour, framed art on the ceiling, and a glittering disco ball on the dance floor. Offering a long list of classic cocktails, make sure to try their signature and aptly named Cock Punch.
Under the arches of Vauxhall station is a club like no other. Opened in 2008, the Lightbox is named after its main room which is decked floor to ceiling with LED lights that give the most spectacular light shows. The club comfortably fits 600 and has another two rooms to explore. Expect nights dedicated to techno, house, UK garage, and drum & bass to rave the night away. Thursday and weekend club nights are a regular occurrence, while their after-hours parties are a real highlight and keep the party going until at least the crack of dawn.
This one’s for the uber-cool lovers of all things alternative. Neatly tucked in a railway arch like Lightbox, this underground venue hosts after-hours dance parties every night of the week. Famed for its impeccable sound system and boasting a roomy dance area, it’s the perfect place to settle into a long night of dancing. With space for lounging plus outdoor smoking areas and a pool table, there’s plenty of opportunity to catch your breath before diving back into the music marathon.
With all this and more right on your doorstep, there’s never been a better excuse to light the candle at both ends.
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