In the Earl's Court and Chelsea areas you'll find the 'tried-and-true' stalwarts of the gay scene as well as a few sleazier surprises. The Queen's Head (27 Tryon St., SW3; +44-20-7589-0262) in deepest Chelsea is a delight, a traditional pub in a quiet location and just the place if you've a thing for silver-haired uncles with silk cravats. Earl's Court's bar scene is not as big as it was, but you will find the remodeled Brompton's (294 Old Brompton Rd., SW5;+44-20-7370-1344), a cruisey American-style bar/disco attracting mostly 30- to 40-somethings. It has an upstairs pub for more quiet conversations, and hosts occasional drag and cabaret acts.
Many East London bars are large enough to call themselves clubs and keep club hours. The White Swan (556 Commercial Rd., E14: +44-20-7780-9870) is an East London institution -- vast, attitude-free and great fun, especially for the Sunday night tea dance. The crowd is a mix of East End queens and Canary Wharf yuppies. No sensible East Londoner buys stocks or gets a permanent Monday mornings. Backstreet (Wentworth Mews, Burdett Rd., E3; +44-20-8980-8557) is a friendly, strict leather/rubber club. In Walthamstow, Central Station (80 Brunner Road; +44-20-8520-4836) is a big cruisy pub.
There's somewhere to shake your tush every night of the week in London. Check QX Magazine for the most up-to-date club information. Heaven (The Arches, Villiers Street, WC2; +44-20-7930-2020) is still the most famous of them all, a true gay superclub, recently refurbished.
Ghetto (5-6 Falconberg Court; +44-20-7287-3726) is open seven days a week, offering a disparate range of "theme" nights for eclectic tastes and shallow pockets. Wednesday is trendy electroclash haven Nag Nag Nag, where flash bulbs pop and dressing up is de rigueur, while Friday's New York-influenced The Cock brings the capital's freaks out en-masse for sleazy synthcore bump'n'grind. there's something for everyone, and it's a welcome antidote to Soho's increasingly expensive money pits.
But if you love clubs, take the time to discover some of the many one-nighters, which are the real strength of gay clubbing in London:
Monday: Boys who can spot a bargain flood into town Mondays for the G.A.Y Pink Pounder at Heaven (Under The Arches, off Villiers St., +44-20-7930-2020) while Popcorn is a tasty treat on over at Heaven (The Arches, Villiers Street, WC2; +44-20/7930-2020). with a hot mix of club kids, students, and scene queens.
Wednesday: Fruit Machine is one of London's longest-running club nights and it's still packing ?em in to Heaven (see above) for a sublime night of uplifting dance music.
Thursday: Beautiful people get jiggy to soul and uplifting dance music at Thursday night's Discotec (The End, 18 W. Central St, WC1; +44-20-7419-9199; 10 p.m.-4 a.m., be early or queue). It's one of London's coolest yet most mellow club nights.
Friday: Polysexual describes Friday night hotspot Fiction (The Cross, King's Cross Freight Depot, off York Way, N1; +44-20-7837-0828; 11 p.m.-late). Music is deep and funky and dress code is "make an effort." Popstarz (SIN Nightclub, 144 Charing Cross Rd.; +44-20-7240-1900; 10 p.m.-late) is a Friday nightclub with music from British pop, to '80s new wave. Equally attitude free, Camp Attack (Heaven, Under The Arches, off Villierrs St., +44-20-7930-2020) is a cheesy ?'70s/'80s night from the G.A.Y people, attracting a very young crowd to one of London's largest-capacity dance spaces. First and third Fridays of the month Asian gay club Club Kali takes over the Dome (1 Dartmouth Park Hill, N19; +44-20-7272-8153).
Saturday: G.A.Y. (The Astoria, 157/165 Charing Cross Rd, +44-20-7734-6963) is the biggest-capacity gay night in London, with handbag dance pop and P.As by some big, big names -- Donna Summer and Cher included. Exilio Latino (LSE Student Union, 3 Houghton Street, WC2; +44-7931-374391) is London's leading Latin gay night with salsa and a party crowd.
Sunday remains one of the best nights for clubbing in London -- better, many Londoners believe, than Saturday. DTPM at the fabulous Fabric (77a Charterhouse St, EC1; +44-20-7749-1199; 8 till late) is the numero uno Sunday night club, with three dance floors -- a large, sprung one playing house/techno, smaller floor playing more popular disco diva tunes for a shirts-off muscleboy crowd and a sexy little split-level R&B bar. It stands for "De-Tox in the P.M."
The indie set gets starry-eyed at Marvellous at Crash (66 66 Albert Embankment; +44-20-7793-9262).
Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four
London: Where to Stay
London: Where to Eat
London: What to See and Do