Welcome to Insider Out Travel, a blog about LGBT travel written by LGBT tourism professionals. Travel the globe and gain insight into the tourism industry (with a gay twist), brought to you by the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
First Time in London – Part Four: Pride & Goodbye
It took me a few days to finish this posting because I honestly wasn't sure how to sum up pride in London. I know there are tons of pride events all over the world and each city boasts their own claim to fame. Some cities have the biggest, some have the hottest guys, some party hard and others are very political. London pride was a little bit of it all. I imagine if you live in London you would argue that it's nothing special or that it's the center of the world - but I would argue that both claims are false. Let me tell you a little bit about my experience.
I woke in the morning very much in the mood for pride. The whole city was buzzing with it, even as far out as the suburbs, from what I was told. Bus and tube stations being out of service didn't stop the tight-clothes-wearing community to grab some cans of beer and trek into Soho any which way they could. It felt as if the entire gay community in the UK had crammed themselves into the small gay area of the city.
Before we experienced this mayhem we decided to head down to Trafalgar Square to watch the Pride Parade. Loving that European Nations let you drink outside, we grabbed some beer, found us a cozy spot and watched the parade of thump-thumping double-decker buses and nightclubs advertising the parties of that evening. It was superb, tons of fun, full of the usual "interesting" people that you're used to seeing in such environments.
After a few text messages from new friends and a quick view of a couple stages, we decided to head up to Soho via lunch and meet up with Tommy. (This weekend happened to also be Wimbledon and Tommy had to park himself somewhere to see which Williams sister would win.) I have never felt more of a sense of community than I did at London pride in Soho. It was a crazy, diverse crowd from one of the world's largest cities packed into a very small area. There was your typical dance area, bar specials, drag queens - the works - but it just felt more alive, more real. I guess that was the number one take away I had of London - everything just seemed real and alive. It was amazing.
We moseyed on around, met up with some people we had met during the week, asked which party was the best to go to, etc. Again, the Londoners were showing that they definitely knew how to throw a good party, and there was debauchery everywhere. Alcohol was flowing properly, dancing was happening and the festivities were just exploding all around us. It was amazing, just amazing.
Dinner consisted of some Indian food (when in Rome...or Mumbai or London) that was amazing. After polling as many people as possible it seemed the best course of action was to either see Lady Gaga at G-A-Y at Heaven, or go to Supermartxé London for the ultimate Ibiza/Miami type club experience. As much as we all love us some Lady Gaga (she's amazing), we opted for the crazy club scene. It was Pride in London, after all. So we went down to South London to this dance club that reminded me of Space in my hometown of Miami. It was huge and full of buff, muscle guys who danced until the wee hours of the morning to house and trance music. It was tons of fun and hard to not get caught up in the atmosphere, and we all found ourselves dancing all night long!
In the morning, Tommy and Trenard left on a train going to Paris for a few days. I bid them farewell and had an absolutely perfect last day in London. The weather turned cool the last day I was there so it was almost autumn-like. There were some sites I hadn't seen and some things a good tourist would have done to tick it off his list, but I needed to just soak in as much as possible. I walked lesiurely to Covenant Garden and had a sandwich, bought my father a present. Then I found an intersection near Box Bar with a statue and people just sitting out and talking. I sat there for what must have been a good hour, drinking some coffee, reading, people watching and just letting London happen around me.
The city was amazing, brilliant and perfect. This was because it wasn't perfect - it was completely organic, something that you just found yourself in the middle of and so excited that you were. It's so alive, so vibrant full of people from all walks of life and the urge to be a part of it is overwhelming. One of my best friends vows that one day he'll live in London and another person close to me tells me he's moving there "within the year" every time he goes. I can understand why - this vibrant, alive pulse that London gives off is infectious. It seriously leaves you feeling different and wanting so badly to be a part of it. I'm not sure if I will jump on the bandwagon and say that I'll be living in London one day, but the thought captures my spirit and I definitely know I will be going back whenever possible.