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UCL Urban Laboratory

LGBTQI nightlife spaces in London

LGBTQI nightlife spaces in London

Initiated in 2016 by Dr Ben Campkin and Laura Marshall, in collaboration with community groups the Raze Collective and the Queer Spaces Network, this research project focuses on nightlife spaces important to London’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) communities since 1986. 

The project uses surveys and archival study to map the breadth and diversity of the LGBTQI scene, gathering additional data from community members, venue managers, event promoters and performers through surveys, workshops and interviews. The research highlights the diversity of the capital’s LGBTQI nightlife, as an important contributor to neighborhoods and the wider night-time and cultural economy. Through survey and interview data it also shows the importance of these spaces to community life, welfare and wellbeing.

The research looks at London since 1986 – when the Greater London Council was disbanded, marking a shift in urban regeneration policy - to the present day - a time of wide reporting and activism around the closure of commercial LGBTQI spaces.

Urban Pamphleteer #7: LGBTQ+ night-time spaces, past, present and future (July 2018)

The seventh issue in UCL Urban Laboratory's publication series Urban Pamphleteer stems from the LGBTQI nightlife research project. In the tradition of radical pamphleteering, the intention of the pamphlets is to confront key themes in contemporary urban debate from diverse perspectives, in a direct and accessible — but not reductive — way. The broader aim is to empower citizens, and inform professionals, researchers, institutions and policy-makers, with a view to positively shaping change.

This issue gathers perspectives, provocations and vignettes on London’s LGBTQ+ night-time spaces, past, present and future. We are interested, in particular, in the different tactics being used to queer night-space. We feature a diversity of examples that together suggest how and why different venues, events and clusters are produced; how, when and why they have opened or closed; the scenes that have recently emerged, or are imagined, and how these connect with historical ones, and with other places.

Full report (July 2017): LGBTQ+ Cultural Infrastructure in London: Night Venues, 2006-present

In July 2017, we released our full report from the project, which showed that the number of LGBTQI venues in London has fallen by 58% from 125 to 53 since 2006. Reasons given for this fall include the negative impacts of large-scale developments on venue clusters, a lack of implementation of safeguarding measures in the existing planning system and the sale and change of use of property by landlords whereby venue owners, operators and clients have severely limited negotiating power compared with large organisations.

The Mayor of London has supported this work as part of the development of a Cultural Infrastructure Plan. This is a manifesto commitment by the Mayor and will be published in 2018. The Plan will identify what London needs to sustain and develop culture up to 2030. The collection of quantitative data on venues openings and closures will be reflected within this as part of the capital’s cultural infrastructure. In making this commission, the Greater London Authority (GLA) note the ‘significant work’ published in our interim report.

Interim report (November 2016): LGBTQI Nightlife in London: from 1986 to the present

In November 2016, we released our initial report from the project, which confirmed London’s LGBTQI nightlife spaces have seen a recent intensity of closures, with the largest threats to the most longstanding venues, and those catering to women and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic LGBTQI people.

The report urges politicians and policy-makers, including the Mayor, to positively respond to closures and pressures on venues and other spaces by building protection and promotion of LGBTQI spaces into the London Plan and local borough plans and policies.

In the media


Event Venue/organiser
Urban Pamphleteer #7 launch: LGBTQ+ night-time spaces, past, present and future Museum of London
14 July 2018
LGBT Place-making Planning Out 10 May 2018
Queer(y)ing London Livingmaps 22 March 2018
International Women’s Day Feminist Teach Out
52 Club / University College London UCU 8 March 2018
The London Salon: queer night moves Museum of London 13 February 2018
Night Moves
UCL Transport Institute 17 October 2017
Never Gonna Dance Again National Trust, Sutton House 20 September 2017
Emerging queer spaces, Uniqlo Lates with Camp-er-Van Tate Modern 28 July 2017
Queer Fun, Duckie and Queen Mary, University of London Royal Vauxhall Tavern 10 June 2017
Researching LGBTQ+ Night Scenes, Science Museum Lates, two public talks Science Museum
6 June 2017
Cities After Hours
UCL Festival of Culture
6 June 2017
Nightlife Spaces and the Future City The Bartlett Future Cities Doctoral Network 22 May 2017
LGBTQI Work Life/Night Life qUCL 2 May 2017
Night Scenes: Mapping London's LGBTQ spaces and events New York University in London 12 April 2017
Transient Spaces Open Lecture Chelsea College of Arts 6 February 2017
Safe Space Unhinged: London's LGBTQI Night Scenes Goldsmiths, University of London 24 October 2016
Infrastructure for the 21st Century (listen to audio from 06:42) Royal Academy of Arts
10 October 2016
LGBTQI nightlife Camp-er-Van, Peckham Festival 10 September 2016
Night Scenes workshop UCL Urban Laboratory
19 July 2016

Project website

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