Time Out Reviews VII

Oxford Street W1

Sanguine Kiss is a new weekly club smack in the heart of London town and held slap dab in the middle of a male-dominated venue. Blink and you'd miss it and then you would kick yourself.
The club's architectural structure may be a bit crumbled and chipped, the TV sets installed in the walls maybe dormant, and the furniture seems as if it's been cobbled together from various second-hand stores, but this cavernous space is wonderful.
Besides the relatively inexpensive bar, there are two pinball machines, a pool table and even a jelly-bean machine: it sort of looks like a pub that mutated. The dance floor is painted as a snakes and ladders board, and the DJs (resident Ree Do and alternatives Slamma and Dri Weave) play a fine mix of garage and dance. It may set the walls a-humming (even your clothes vibrate if you sit anywhere near a speaker) and the lighting rig may be a simple one, but this place kicks.
Sanguine Kiss enchants a slightly younger and more excitable crowd (obviously influenced by gay men when it comes to dance moves) who don't mind a belching smoke machine or cocktails named after reptiles. But it isn't just alluring to the trendy young things: even I stayed for over four hours (which is virtually unheard of) and I'm an old crusty.
I usually avoid telling anyone which clubs to visit - that's for individuals to work out for themselves - but I would strongly suggest you check Sanguine Kiss out. It's rare to find something so alive in the centre of town, and it would be a shame to lose such a treat to the boys once again.

Dean Street W1

Kim and Laury have gone and done it again. After the raging success of Betty's at Substation, the dynamic duo have put together Teaserama and lauded it as "Betty's in another time and place." Well... not exactly, but it's a good byline for the flyer.
Tucked away from the maddening straight crowd who clog up the surrounding streets, the club has a large seating area screened from the bar by combat netting and bathed in subdued red. This sort of buggers the idea of cruising, but does allow some privacy. The tiny dancefloor - small enough to rival that of the Diva Dive and secreted away from the bar - was quite congested. And praise be for the air-conditioning which was particularly refreshing - nay, breezy - on a scorching evening. Even the tacky Athena-style prints on the wall didn't deter us and I eventually learned not to lean on the tables because they slide perilously.
Musical policy is yer average garage, with tishing hi-hats, duck-voice vocals and frankly, quite a monotonous beat. I swore blind they were playing the same record for the half hour after we arrived, but was heartened to hear some pirate and jazz samples creeping in.
The crowd would be impossible to pigeonhole. There were a few leather butches, women in long flouncy dresses, drag kings, the blazer brigade, silver wedge shoe lovers, a dozen "gay boyfriends" and loads of dykes in shorts, obviously filched from the wardrobe department of "It Ain't Half Hot Mum". And how easily they all mixed to create a fabulously laid-back atmosphere. It would be worth your while to discover another little slice of dyke heaven in the heart of the gay

Higbury Corner, N5

If you had ambled in from the street, you probably wouldn't think that Vaseline was a queer club. It challenges the aesthetic of preening poofs with hardened pecs and attacks the virulent strain of techno-shit that has invaded lesbian and gay clubs.
You have to queue for about fifteen minutes and the club - squashed into a church hall-size space with a smattering of neon light and a looped film show - is packed by midnight. And be warned. It is very, very hot in there. The club only fits 200 or so - gangly youths, dread-locked crusties, Adidas babes, grunge freaks, Umbro lovers, computer nerds, REM wannabes and yer average queer - and they all sweat, whether lunging around the floor or not. As compensation, there is a tiny chill-out space which is dark and dank, but distinctly quieter; by contrast, the toilets are ablaze with light.
Vaseline is cheap, very loud but mellow-minded and totally attitude-free. The music is devoid of drum kits and screeching divas, ranging from Portishead, Sleeper, Cranberries and Elastica to the Crowbars, Green Day, Pulp and Echobelly. It is pure, unadulterated bliss. DJ Mel even takes requests! After the rip-roaring success of queercore, country-western and tea dances, the independent scene has finally muscled in. The crowd at Vaseline might be ecletic to the extreme, but this club is the bollocks.

Gerrard Street W1

All manner of clubs have been launched at 13 Gerrard Street, but few have been remotely lucrative or sustained. The promoters of Oblivion hoped to change all that although I honestly can't see how. This new club for 'gay girlz' is certainly nothing extraordinary - seen that, been there, worn the 'Power Babe' T-shirt.
The promoters claim they 'can't discriminate against men' as it's 'against the law' to have a women-only nightclub. News to me, I must say. The door policy is 'gay girlz' with 'gay boyz' as guests - single men, I am informed, would be politely refused entrance to the narrow but hallowed space. It seemed odd then that the mix was almost 50-50 and more than a few 'boyz' sauntered in on their own.
The music - 'uplifting, happy house and garage' - is for dykes who love to dance. By midnight, a few brave souls were spied quietly bopping around the edge of the miniscule dance floor. Maybe it was a tad early for the hard-core maniacs: pub prices are marginally cheaper (Oblivion charges £2.50 for Fosters, Budvar or Piggy Stick cider) and it seems a favourable choice for post-pub prancing. The mood was evocative of the extinct Locomotion bar but with 'flying' music and sweeter bar staff.
Be-kilted, lipsticked and heavily-musked, the crowd suffered unisex toilets, limited seating and those infamous gravity-defying stairs. If only the promoter's claim that 170 people could be crammed into that space were true - surely that many would be truly claustrophobic. Still, it's another Saturday night venue in the big city, and choice is all that matters. It's just a pity that most only cater to glam girlz and beatific boyz.

All ©Megan Radclyffe Publ. Time Out Magainze 1995-1998

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