Eh?

Gay bars in London are closing down at such an “alarming” rate that the redevelopment of the Joiners Arms, an east London pub that counted Alexander McQueen, Rufus Wainwright and Wolfgang Tillmans among its regulars, will only get the go-ahead if it includes an LGBT club venue – and the mayor’s office will send an inspector to make sure it is gay enough.

Tower Hamlets council has told the developers of the Joiners site that their plans for offices and nine luxury flats will get planning permission onlyif it includes a pub that will “remain a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender-focused venue for a minimum of 12 years”. It is believed to be the first time that the sexual orientation of a venue’s customers has been included as a condition of planning approval.

How in buggery does that work?

It is the clientele that makes a place a gay venue or not. Do he developers have to start bussing people in to meet the quota?

49 thoughts on “Eh?”

  1. A Gay Bar in the middle of one of the more fundamentalist Islamic areas of London ? Where gangs of vigilantes roam the streets looking for un-islamic activities? That’ll work well.

  2. Kevin,
    That was my first thought too; but I checked on the map, it’s in newly-trendy Hoxton, not the rougher bits of Tower Hamlets.

    As to how it will work, put a bouncer outside to enforce the quota, and keep the rent (and hence drink prices) low enough to ensure a steady stream of customers. It’s not economically efficient, but then that’s explicitly not the aim.

    Given that other cultural groups get rates-free gathering spaces, it seems only fair that the gays should too.

  3. This country really is fucked.

    And how on earth does one judge if it “passes muster”, for the purpose of whether or not the developer is going to be fined? Complete and utter fruitcakes.

  4. Bloke in North Dorset

    Why are gay bars closing down at an “alarming rate”?

    Is it because the alphabet no longer feel the need for them because they are comfortable in mainstream pubs and clubs with everyone else? In which case, job done on social equality and let the market decide how many are needed?

  5. The fitters put in locker rooms and one of those mirrored circular bathrooms with the wash basins in the middle. Build it and they will come.
    I’ll get my coat.

  6. I am looking forward to the inspector from the Islamic Tower Hamlets council having to inspect the club to make sure “it is gay enough”. There’s a sitcom, right there, except there won’t because everyone would be terrified to make it.

  7. “Gay bars in London are closing down” at such an “alarming” rate

    Hmm, can’t smoke and Grindr is a thing. Bars in general closing and there’s not a lot of need for homosexual-specific venues anymore.

    Just another example of government’s inclinations – if it moves, tax it. If it stops moving, subsidize it.

  8. “Hmm, can’t smoke and Grindr is a thing. Bars in general closing and there’s not a lot of need for homosexual-specific venues anymore.”

    Grindr is the big thing here in the same way Tinder is killing clubs. Spend a relatively small amount per month and get lots of people to say the virtual equivalent of “hi there, fancy a shag?” to. Are you going to do that, or spend a ton of money on entrance fees, beer, and taxis to meet less people?

  9. The issue here is the need to destroy local councils.

    The corrupt elections kicking was a good start on Tower Hamlets but obviously nowhere near enough.

    We need to be thinking of how councils can be destroyed not merely remarking on their CM evil.

  10. “The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has demanded that urgent action is taken to halt the “shocking” decline of LGBT bars, which he said were vital for the city’s economy and diversity.”

    Well, if there was demand for LGBT bars, there wouldn’t be a shocking decline so clearly they are not vital for the city’s economy. The LGBT peeps have gone away, so diversity hasn’t changed, it just seems that the diversity no longer needs to be so in your face, but can be a gay couple sat in any old pub surrounded by normal couples.

  11. Has Khan demanded urgent action to halt the shocking decline of pubs anyone can go into in London, which are vital for the city’s economy?

  12. The closure-rate of gay bars is indeed arming. Where else can groups of young women meet to complain there aren’t any decent men for them anymore?

  13. “Smoking ban, same as any other bar.”

    Since 83% of the adult population of the UK are non-smokers, other factors must now be responsible for the closure of bars and pubs.

  14. A couple of gay friends left London for Australia a few years ago to ‘get away from the blacks and the muslims’. (There was more to it than that!) So much for sympathy across the oppressed minorities.

    I volunteer the mayor for testing the gayness of the place.

  15. The gays I know say they feel they have nothing in common with the rest of the alphabet soup.

    I’m glad to hear it. The ones I know have thrown their lot in with the trannies, which won’t end well.

  16. A couple of gay friends left London for Australia a few years ago to ‘get away from the blacks and the muslims’. (There was more to it than that!)

    I hope so, because if they moved to Sydney or Melbourne they wouldn’t have got away from anything at all.

    There aren’t any blacks and Muslims in Cumbria. Whereas in rural Australia you will find more Aborigines and this may be a problem depending the reason you dislike black people.

  17. Theophrastus,

    “Since 83% of the adult population of the UK are non-smokers, other factors must now be responsible for the closure of bars and pubs.”

    Heavy correlation between regulars at the bar and smoking, at least as far as my regular (in quite a middle-class area) was concerned.

    and then you get the secondary effects. Pubs are networks. People go there because of who else is there. I could pop in when walking the dog and there would be someone to have a chat with I knew for 15 minutes while having a half. Now it’s sit on my own with a half. Not much fun. So, I leave.

    Or: my mate and I never go to the pub, now. He’s a smoker, so it’s a totally shit experience as he’s constantly going outside for a smoke. That doesn’t just mean they lose him. They lose both of us.

    The UKIP guy in Swindon ran a pub and said that the effect on takings was dramatic. He wisely got out within a few months. Others tried to drag on. But most pubs now are just eating places. There’s bars to pick up girls as well, but the pub is pretty much dead.

  18. Gay-bar inspector (not a gay bar-inspector): “Excuse me sir, I’m from the local council. How many of the clientele have you buggered tonight?”

    Customer: “Er, none”

    Gay-bar inspector: “Landlord! I am closing this establishment because it is not gay-bar enough!”

    Gay bars close at an even more alarming rate…

  19. People used to go to gay bars to meet other gay people.
    Now its more accepted mainstream and there are plenty of bars to meet up with friends. No need to specifically go to a gay establishment.
    While the number of people identifying as gay will have risen the number needing to use those places will have fallen.

    Add in business changes – rent increases, wage increases, business rates increases etc and a previously money making site can lose money. Pointless keeping a place open when its not financially worth it.

  20. ASM,

    This isn’t just about cost. It’s that ‘creatives’ don’t need to be there now. People lived in cheap shitty parts of London because they had to. If you were working in advertising you had to be a commute from the agency. It was never ‘cheap’ though. 2 bed flat in the east end was over double the price of a 2 bed house in Swindon.

    I know a writer, one of the top sellers on Kindle and she lives in a really cheap area of Northants.Kate Bush composes from the rural area west of Reading. The web designers I know with reputations don’t live in London. I know a video game developer in Tewkesbury. A large new media agency that is mostly in Leeds and Newbury. Their London office is just for client meetings.

  21. “Has Khan demanded …”: I read that initially as ‘Herr Khan demanded’. Been reading too much about Nazi Germany, obviously.

  22. Bloke in Swindon: Agreed.

    Plus, what artists who produce physical work have always needed is cheap space it’s difficult to make sculpture or paintings larger than a postcard if you are living in a tiny bedsit and/or if you risk messing up the decor.
    Hence artists have always gravitated to shabby run-down areas where an extra room or space in a former warehouse costs little. Increasingly London doesn’t have those spaces.

  23. The Meissen Bison

    Didn’t Khan once criticise his assimilating co-religionists by calling them Uncle Toms?

    As a champion for booze and homosexuals he may want to rethink that or convert.

  24. BiND… Because they are comfortable in mainstream pubs and clubs with everyone else…

    I heard the same argument from Johann Hari several years ago when he and two of his friends were celebrating the anniversary of the Stonewall riots. “These days we blend in with everyone else.” Unfortunately they ruined their argument by behaving as though auditioning for Widow Twankey at the Catford Hippodrome.

  25. @Theophrastus

    “Since 83% of the adult population of the UK are non-smokers, other factors must now be responsible for the closure of bars and pubs.”

    Since 98.5% of the population aren’t gay, perhaps there just isn’t enough demand?

  26. Smokers are fun people. It’s even possible that the mere act of smoking is what makes them fun. Smoking reduces oxygen flow to the brain, which makes people say & do crazy things. Take away the smokers (or the smoking), and pubs become sterile and boring.

    Only 17% of the population smokes; but that doesn’t include social smokers, the ones who’ll bum a fag (Americans laugh here) because it goes well with a pint. Pub-goers are also more likely to smoke; regulars especially-so. Finally, a quick search on the interwebs tells me that gays are some 40-50% more likely to smoke than non-gays.

    Gay pubs can’t just switch to be child-friendly food-serving gastropubs, because gays have no children and little interest in exclusive venues for dining. (Hence the dearth of gay restaurants.)

    Yes, Grinder / Tinder / etc have their part to play.

    What I can’t explain is why apparently Manchester’s gay pubs are still trading, whereas London’s are closing. Are they self-selecting to concentrate in Manchester?

  27. “what I can’t explain is why apparently Manchester’s gay pubs are still trading, whereas London’s are closing. Are they self-selecting to concentrate in Manchester?”
    — BBC?

  28. BiSw

    “The UKIP guy in Swindon ran a pub and said that the effect on takings was dramatic. He wisely got out within a few months. Others tried to drag on. But most pubs now are just eating places.”

    In the years soon after the smoking ban, yes; but now when 87% of adults don’t smoke, the smoking ban is not the cause of pub closures.

    Why are pubs closing? Perhaps fewer people want to be a pub landlord? And the price of decent beer is high. I can go to my local where two pints will cost me £8.50, or I can spend £10 on a bottle of wine that will last two nights.

    I have three pubs within a 250 yard radius of where I live. Only one has gone down the gastropub route. All are doing well.

  29. Andrew M said:
    “What I can’t explain is why apparently Manchester’s gay pubs are still trading, whereas London’s are closing.”

    Apparently it’s because most of the customers in Manchester’s Anal Street aren’t gay; they’re just there for the trendy bars.

    I’ve read that some of the gays are objecting to this, but given what’s happening in London they might be better off putting up with the tourists than losing their scene:

    http://www.mancunianmatters.co.uk/content/291267170-canal-street-20-years-how-has-manchester%E2%80%99s-gay-village-changed-and-can-it-shed

  30. Theophrastus said:
    “I can spend £10 on a bottle of wine that will last two nights.”

    You’re teetotal?

  31. Bloke in North Dorset

    ” I can go to my local where two pints will cost me £8.50, or I can spend £10 on a bottle of wine that will last two nights.”

    Where do you get 1.5l bottles for £10? I presume they’re not plastic bottles?

  32. “In the years soon after the smoking ban, yes; but now when 87% of adults don’t smoke, the smoking ban is not the cause of pub closures. ”

    You’re treating it as if it was a static situation. The cohort of smokers who were willing to suffer the imposition of the smoking ban by soldiering on, popping outside for a quick fag in the cold & rain is declining. They’re doing something else, right from the start. And the non-smokers who were happy to use pubs because they sought the company of smokers are going with them.
    There isn’t much evidence that pubs are now attracting non-smokers, who before were deterred from pub-going by smokers. Because there’s no real evidence non-smoking pub goers gave a toss.

  33. There are several gay bars near the Oval-
    What is it about Surrey County Cricket Club I wonder.

  34. @ Theophrastus
    bis is mostly right.
    But you also need to look at the *correct* numbers – over 19% of “adult” men smoke and, given that the brainwashing of the young means that the numbers of 18-21-year-olds who cannot afford to drink in a pub is lower and the number of those who *can* buy a pint is higher, the percentage of would-be pubgoers who smoke must be in the mid- or high-twenties.
    Hence, looking at the groups of 5 or more men who used to meet in the local for a friendly chat after work, more than three-quarters include a smoker.
    Membership of groups shift over time as guys change jobs (or retire) and any new group that includes a smoker is less likely to go to a pub that discriminates against one member. So while some groups have continued going to their pub, fewer new groups will replace those that kept going despite anti-smoker discrimination when they give up due to redundancy or retirement. The continued decline in pubs is quite logical if you pause to think long enoughabout the numbers.

  35. +1 to BiS and John77.

    To a certain degree, the proportion of smokers amongst pub goers was always higher than that in the general population. As the population rate fell (since the early-Seventies I think) the difference in rates became more apparent. The ban was always going to have a far larger effect on pubs than elsewhere.

    The other legislative effect that happened around the same time was to do with food preparation. Pubs were required to have a separate kitchen area from the domestic area in the landlord’s or tenant’s accommodation. So, no more knocking out ham, egg and chips or a curry upstairs, and it was phased in for cold food as well.

    Willing to bet that an awful lot of pub closures subsequent to the smoking ban were driven by the fact that the required kitchen facilities simply couldn’t be put in either at all, or economically. So, a large chunk of the surviving pubs doing food are those that already had those kitchen areas prior to 2007.

  36. @ DuckyMcDuckface
    Yeah – I hadn’t thought about that. As I never (literally never) got food poisoning in a pub [but on a number of occasions in restaurants] I don’t think about pub kitchens – the landlord has a vested interest in avoiding poisoning his regulars.

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