Friday, 2 August 2013

My GAY BARS piece for Dalston Superstore

I was comissioned by Dalston Superstore, roughly at the time of the Stonewall riots anniversary, to write a piece about people's favourite, or most historically important, gay bars. After thinking about America and Asia, in the end I decided to stick to continental Europe (and London), with gay haunts chosen by Daniel Wang, Hard Ton, Silvia Prada, Kiddy Smile and Feral aka MC Kinky. That means there may be a sequel looking further afield soon, maybe, and next week DS are going to publish the run down of our favourite fictional gay bars in film and TV.

Oh, the good ole gay bar! Love them or hate them, gay bars have been an integral part of LGBTQ social life since the beginning of time. Not always just a space for cruising and dancing, the gay bar/gay club has also been a vital tool for queers to define themselves and the kind of people we wish to be, the kinds of people we wish to interact with (for better and for worse) and, ultimately, the kind of lives we wish to lead, away from harassment and hetero-normative judgement.

Gay bars have also acted as a reflection of society’s acceptance, or lack of acceptance, of LGBTQ people, and our own increasing visibility in mainstream society. From New York’s Stonewall Inn (site of the Stonewall riots in 1969, the event which kicked the modern gay rights movement into existence) to Manchester’s Manito (the first bar in the city’s gay village to feature see through glass in the windows, ending the traditional stigma and shame of being seen in a gay bar) to London’s Admiral Duncan pub (which was horrifically nail bombed in 1999 to huge public outrage), it seems as though all of gay life could be traced through our pub and club spaces, and our interaction with, and within, them.

Although not always positive – very picky door policies have led to claims of exclusion and division among queer communities – gay bars and clubs are hugely important to this culture. As it was recently the anniversary of the Stonewall riots, we thought it was high time we celebrated the humble gay bar, so we’ve asked five of our favourite queer dance acts and DJs from around Europe to name their favourite gay bars for us. This isn’t a definitive guide however, consider it some insider tips for homos, don’t-knows, anything-goes and friends/allies to brighten up your next continental jaunt.

Read the rest of the article here.

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