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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

First Time in London – Part Three: Friends, New and Old


Tommy and Trenard arrived towards the end of the week, in time for pride. The year past, Tommy and I had traveled to Stockholm together for EuroPride and had a fantastic time. We were all excited to not only experience London Pride – but experience London. It was the first time any of us had been in the city. Upon their arrival they needed a nap after that long journey across the Atlantic, and then we were set to do some touristy sight-seeing – some of the stuff I hadn’t done already.

When I used to live in Washington, I was a tour guide. It was a fitting, wonderful job – and it’s something I feel like I do well, even now. When visitors come to Florida I show them around as if I personally built up the city and make commission on whenever somebody likes it. I showed off London with the same excitement – showing them the streets, areas and sights I had stumbled across the first few days there. I also recited every little tidbit of information that anybody spat at me. By the end of the first day there, both Tommy and Trenard felt like I had been to London many times before and knew exactly where everything was.

The first thing we did was take a walk down to the Thames through Tafalgar Square and hit up the London Eye. It’s a tad over-priced, but it seems like a necessary thing to do on a first-trip to London, and we were right. It was exciting to spend a little bit of time in that slowly revolving orb, taking in as much of London as we could. The only complaint is at the top of the wheel, when the car shifts to the other side, we all got a little nauseous.

I had scored myself a theater ticket that night and Tommy and Trenard had opted out. They weren’t as excited by the theater as I was. I had heard wonderful things about Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – fresh from a run in Sydney based on the hit movie. I got a seat and wasn’t really sure what to expect. The show was absolutely fabulous (is there any other way to describe such a thing?) and I had such a great time. The theater was nothing but LGBT people, I figured it was because the show itself is so campy and gay, but I was told later it was because of a special pride-showing. I highly recommend it, the story is great, the music fun and the dancing can’t help but get you moving in your seat.

The rest of the day was full of some more exploring, a nap and some catching up. As dusk started to settle around us we had to try and figure out where to go party. My friend Landon – an avid fan of London – swore that one of the best nights he ever had was at a party called “Porn Idol” held at Heaven. I had heard of Heaven many times before from many people, so I figured this would be a good place to start. We had a fantastic time drinking, dancing, watching twink-ish boys take their clothes off in hopes for a porn contract. We even made some friends from all around including Los Angeles. We were incredibly fortunate to be staying in the midst of the West End and every sort of club, so the walk home wasn’t bad and definitely involved a quick binge at McDonald’s.

The next day we were itching for some Pride festivities. The main event we knew was Saturday, but the city’s alive vibe was starting to buzz even more ferociously, it was a Friday in July after all, and London was experiencing some of the best weather all year we were told. The day just enabled us to explore a little more. We really wanted to see different areas of London so we decided to go down to Vauxhall – an area we were told was also pretty gay like Soho. The area was rather residential and even though we saw tons of bars and clubs, they were pretty empty during the day. Still – the whole thing wasn’t a bust and we did have a great drink in a bar under some railroad tracks to escape the heat. We took a disco nap and then got excited to explore some more nightlife. Before it got too dark we hit up Old Compton Street and made some new friends at Comptons. The place was festive for the Friday crowd and we couldn’t help get caught up in it. We strolled over to G-A-Y bar, taking in the sights, and met up with a friend of mine there who was crazy busy working for Pride. I was connected with somebody in London via a friend and we met him out at the Box Bar which was absolutely packed to the brim with insanely hot guys. I felt very mediocre here, but the people we met and talked to were incredibly nice and we had a lot of fun.

That night we walked with our new friends through Soho to go to Lo-Profile, a dance club that exists down a long hallway and down some stairs. This place was so much fun; we danced the night away among some really cool people. The vibe in this club was that of people who know how to party. It was laid back yet intense, one of those places where you feel like you can just dance and have fun with friends or really go crazy with some new friends.

After many a red bull and vodka drinks, the night lasted for a very long time. I won’t bore you with details, but we all had a very good night. We went to bed a little drunk and a lot excited for the next day, what we were sure was going to be hardcore insanity. Up to this point London was a city teeming with excitement and partying and life. We couldn’t begin to fathom what Pride would actually be like and we couldn’t wait to find out.

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