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If you only have time for a one-nighter in Camden Town, it must be spent at The Black Cap (171 Camden High St., NW1; +44-20-7485-0538). This popular pub has been famous for its drag shows for nearly 30 years and, although there are two shows nightly, the early Sunday evening show draws the biggest and most interesting local crowd of gawkers and buzz-cut cuties. Upstairs is a quieter bar and garden for romantic drinks and conversation. Before or after a ramble on Hampstead's Heath (the highest point in London), or a swim in the park's cruisey men's pond, head to the King William IV (77 Hampstead High St., NW3; +44-20-7435-5747) for a relaxed pint, great food in the garden, and a taste of local color among the boys who live and work in the area.
The friendly King Edward VI (25 Bromfield St., N1; +44-20-7704-0745) is Islington's most popular and central bar, with an upstairs caf? and a great rear garden. Restaurant and lounge, The Green (74 Upper St.; +44-20-7226-8895) was the talk of the cocktail swilling crowd in 2005. For relaxed charm,the lesbian-run The Duke of Wellington (119 Balls Pond Rd.; +44 20-7254-4338) is a beautiful old Victorian pub popular with local men and women on weekends when traditional Sunday lunches are served and the newspapers are free. Every Saturday, frisky guys may like the raunchier edge of Central Station (37 Wharfdale Rd., N1; +44-20-7278-3294) open late on weekends for a cruisy crowd and with some very dark corners to explore.
There's something about South London that seems to attract some of London's cruisiest and horniest guys. Substation South (4 Brighton Terrace, Brighton; +44-20-7737-2095) is a large and very cruisy late night bar with a dance floor. Different club promoters run various weekly theme nights. Man Bar (82 Great Suffolk St., SE1: +44-20/-928-3223) hosts a variety of hot and cruisy nights (and afternoons). The Hoist (Arches 47C, South Lambeth Road; +44-20-7735-9972) is a very popular leather bar with a strict dress code.
Vauxhall Gay Village is very much the current place for cutting edge gay clubs. Vauxhall venues come and go at a breakneck pace, so check with local papers and magazines before heading south of the Thames. For those who want to make the most of every weekend of the weekend, Friday night's A:M (Fire at South Lambeth Road; +44-20-7582-9890, 39-41 Parry Str.) runs till 11a.m. Saturday morning, Crash (see below) is a big Saturday night destination. House and techno venue Instinct (Colosseum, 1 Nine Elms Lane) and hotspot Ultra (Area, 67-68 Albert Embankment; +44-20-7091-0080) add even more heat to Saturday nights. Horse Meat Disco (The Eagle London, 349 Kennington Lane; +44-20-7793-0903) attracts an eclectic set from bears to style mavens. After-hours substance-enhanced shenanigans Orange and Open at Fire (see above; www.allthingsorange.com) set the pace from 3am. At the same venue, Later kicks off at noon Sunday. Who needs sleep?
Weekdays, Vauxhall's hot dance club Crash becomes Crash Bar (66 Albert Embankment, SE11; +44-20-7793-9262) and surprise, surprise, it's horny and cruisey, too.
But there's room in South London for more than raunch. Saturdays at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern (372 Kennington Lane, SW8; +44-20-7737-4043), screamers of all genders turn out for "Duckie", a busy dance floor playing indies and techno trash till 2 a.m. It's also popular Sunday afternoons. A little further out, Clapham plays host to two popular bars: the Two Brewers (114 Clapham High St., SW4; +44-20-7498-4971), which is a popular disco and cabaret venue with the younger set, and definitely worth a visit if you are already south of the river; and Kazbar (50 Clapham High St.; +44-20/7622-0070), which is an outpost of the Kudos empire.
For cabaret, try George and Dragon (2 Blackheath Hill, Greenwich; +44-20-8691-3764).
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