London gay nightclub XXL could close to make room for luxury flats
One of London’s biggest gay nightclubs, XXL, is facing closure to make way for a £1.3bn new development that will include luxury flats.
According to The Guardian, XXL – thought to be London’s last bear club – has three months to wind things up.
XXL has been open for 19 years and its closure will mean the loss of 40 jobs.
“It was the only LGBT bar or venue left in Southwark,” James McNeil, who co-runs the club, told The Guardian.
“It is like we have been socially cleansed of LGBT venues. We are one of the few venues serving the 30-plus community. There are people who haven’t come out who will go there because it is a safe zone.”
The owners of XXL this week lost a legal challenge against developers, who are backed by investors from Malaysia and Singapore.
The new project is said to include 34-floor towers incorporating 489 apartments, a hotel, offices, and shops.
XXL closure is ‘social cleansing’
Mark Ames, who co-founded XXL in 2000, said, “Yet again, London is about to lose something that is unique to its character – the idea of open arms. This is a reflection on our society.
“There is no room for difference; everything has to be sterilised and the same.
“This is being done by people who don’t care about London’s community. All they care about is turning a buck,” Ames said.
Ames and McNeil said they had proposed a new LGBT+ cultural venue be put in the new venue – a strategy that other gay venues have used successfully – but the plan had been rejected.
The pair questioned whether this decision was impacted by the investors’ ties to Singapore and Malaysia, two countries where gay sex is still criminalised.
The developers strongly deny this.
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XXL also alleges that the London mayor’s office has not helped its attempts to remain open over the past two years.
Amy Lamé, London’s Night Czar, previously said she would try to save XXL because it is “a crucial part of the city’s LGBT+ nightlife.”
“I am determined to support the owners of this important venue and call on the developer, Native Land, to meet with me to find a more productive solution,” Lamé said.
DJ Fat Tony, a friend of Elton John’s who regularly plays to crowds of 2,000 people at XXL, said, “London can’t afford to lose another big gay venue. The gay scene has been so crippled over the last few years.”
He added, “We [still] need gay clubs because the world we live in is not going forwards, it is going backwards. In some areas of London people still can’t walk down the street together.”