Tuesday, 2 December 2008

John Bull Centre: This year's best kept secret

I was delighted to read recently that a new centre for the LGBT community was due to open in Vauxhall, SE11. The scene has long been dominated by clubs under railway arches, and to be honest, the "L", "B" and "T" provision in the area might be said to be, errr, non-existent. Still, in these days of post-Thatcherist politics, everything is led by the market, so one just has to wait for queer minorities to make some money...

The John Bull Centre is to be opened on Tyre Street (in the old pub of the same name), after having received funding from a local entrepreneur, Adrian Flack, who has also decided that the scene lacks a heart, and wanted to put something in place. Flack is quoted in the Pink Paper as saying:

“We have a gay village, but it doesn’t have a heart. Yes, I could’ve opened the place as another club, but there’s a definite need for a focus for our community. Since the press release yesterday, the response has been amazing.“ The opening of the centre will provide the LGBTV and TG with a dedicated community
centre in Vauxhall.”

The press-release, which I discovered here, notes that the centre was due to open on 8th November, and the coffee shop on the 1st December.

After my initial delight, I peered more deeply into the ways in which the centre was to fund itself. Unfortunately, it seems that for a large portion of the time it will be open, it's going to exist as another club. The John Bull Centre website suggests that during the following times, it will host the Play Pit club:

Thursday: 9:00pm - 2:00am
Friday/Saturday: 9:00pm - 3:00am
Sunday: 3:00pm - midnight

I suppose that some form of club promotion was to be expected, but I was vaguely hoping that the community space might be more accessible in the evenings for LGBT people who don't have any interest in clubbing. On the plus side, it does have a coffee shop:

Monday - Friday: 8:00am - 5:00pm
Saturday: 12:00 noon - 5:00pm

It would be really good to hear some comments from anybody that has actually dropped by. Disco Damaged has a review from the Play Pit clubbing point of view of the opening night, but I'd like to hear comments from anybody that visited in a broader social capacity.


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Mona Choo said...


First, I'd like to say thank you for your very informative blog, I spent more time than I intended to going through all the interesting bits.

The reason I write is because I really didn't know who else to turn to. I live in Hong Kong and am about to move to London for 6 months for work. And I just wanted to ask someone with good knowledge of the area whether Kennington is a safe place to live for a single female. My ethnicity is Chinese though English is my first language. I also went to art school at the City & Guilds so I am familiar with the area but I never lived there, plus that was 18 years ago! I just wanted to know whether there would be a risk of me getting beaten up if I were to walk home from the tube station late at night on my own. Anything you could share would be very much appreciated. And I don't know how else to repay you but to say, should you ever require any info about Singapore, Hong Kong or Australia, let me know! Many thanks for reading.

Mona Choo

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