Posts Tagged ‘Cruising’

Bronco of Horseplay

Next week it’s time to Shake Yer Dix in the Superstore basement with Michael Kelly, plus special guest Bronco who’s trotted into town via Horseplay in Bristol. Joining them in the basement will be the lovely Ego Rodriguez, whilst upstairs for Nancy’s Jonjo Jury and Kim Jakobsen To takeover. Ahead of next Fridays festivities, Michael Kelly gave Bronco a quick equine probing…

So Horseplay. What? Who? When? Where? Why? 

Horseplay was born from a desire to get a mixed crowd together to hear alternative dance music, a party where people can dance without inhibition in a haze of smoke and lasers. I run Horseplay with my stable-mates Pony and Jim Carna. We wanted our club to be about the music, but also about building a community of like-minded people… creating a queer dance party with a positive, friendly vibe and a fine dusting of glitter and sleaze.   

We started in a dirty basement under a metal bar four years ago, then decided to focus on throwing bigger, quarterly parties in more unexpected spaces in 2013. Last year was pretty amazing – we took over an old strip club, a disused coroner’s court and a police station. 

For our next party at the end of April we’re taking over an arts cinema, showing the films Cruising and Interior. Leather Bar in the afternoon.  Then in the evening we’ll be re-imagining the world of Cruising as a gender-queer disco… we’ll be encouraging folk to throw on a fake ‘tache and a harness, sniff some poppers and unleash their inner leather queen on the dancefloor. 

Weve had a few articles proclaiming the death of (gay) Londonlately. Sure things change, but they seem a tadapocalyptic. Have you noticed any changes on the Bristol scene over the last few years? 

The gay scene has always been, and should be, an ever-evolving beast. It’s deeply depressing when any pub or club is forced to close because developers want to move in and make a quick buck building overpriced rabbit-hutches. We’re never going to get those places back, people need spaces to go out and socialise… rather than just communicating through apps. 

We’re pretty lucky to have a growing alternative gay scene in Bristol. The mainstream gay scene certainly has its place, but we received a huge amount of interest when we started Horseplay by offering something new and different. It’s a great city for people trying new things, I admire anyone that gets off their arse and gives it a go and starts a new night.  

Were heading west to Brizzle for the weekendwhere are you taking us? 

One of the most interesting areas of Bristol is?Stokes Croft which has gone through massive changes in the past few years, a bottom-up (heh heh – editor’s note) regeneration spearheaded by artists rather than gentrification by outside developers. There are huge murals everywhere and loads of galleries, cafes and bars. Some of the best places to eat are here, like Katy & Kim’s Kitchen, which started in a converted horse box, but has now moved inside and make awesome breakfasts.

After that you can head down to the docks, which comes into its own in the summer – buzzing with people, the perfect place to sit by the water, have a pint and watch the world go by. In the evening I’d take you dancing to Dirtytalk, who always throw exceptional parties in unique locations.  

Anything stoking your dancefloor fires lately? 

See Through You by Mighty Mouse – with Ronika on vocals – still puts a grin on my face… 

Whats in your record bag (alright, its more like to be be Traktor these days) for Shake Yer Dix? 

I’ll be playing a mix of indie dance. Expect some Gigamesh, Chvrches, Punks Jump Up and Cut Copy…

Whats your most memorable Horseplay moment?

Playing the after-party for In Between Time Festival last month… we had Playmodes, a posse of audio-visual artists from Barcelona, create a storm from a ton of lazers while we whipped the dancefloor into meltdown. The crowd went crazy for it.

And finally, a real horse pitches up to your clubwhat happens?

If it can dance – it can stay.

Join Bronco for Shake Yer Dix on Friday 20th March at Dalston Superstore from 9pm – 3am.

A Weekend Of A Sexual Nature

Tomorrow night sees the return of LGBT art fundraiser, The Queer Archive! After the smash success of their party to bring a debut exhibition from Greek trans* artist Paola Reveniotti to London, TQA are now focussing their attention on Hackney based project A Weekend Of Sexual Nature. Designed as walking tours through picturesque Abney Park Cemetary in Stoke Newington, the tours will focus on the combined use of the space by wildlife conservationists and as a hotspot for cruising. We spoke to artist Louis Buckley to find out more about this fascinating project…

What was the catalyst for this project?

I’ve been a resident of Hackney for almost a decade and I’ve spent many hours exploring Abney Park Cemetery. I’ve spoken to friends who’ve had sex in there, and I’ve caught glimpses of things going on in the bushes while wandering around… I’m personally fascinated by how we think about and relate to nature and sexuality, and about the ‘proper’ and ‘improper’ ways in which we’re supposed to behave in different urban spaces. A few years ago I came across an article written by Matthew Gandy, a geographer at University College London, in which he highlights the fact that many places in cities that are havens for wildlife are also prime spots for illicit sex. His prime example is Abney Park, so the idea really grew from there.     

Can you talk us through the wildlife aspect- what animals reside in the cemetary? And why do the conservationists care so much about the space?

It’s a relatively undisturbed area of woodland that is, I believe, recognised as one of the most important sites for biodiversity in London, and was declared as Hackney’s first official Local Nature Reserve in the early 1990’s. The cemetery contains more than 170 species of trees and shrubs and is nationally important for fungi, rare beetles, birds like owls and woodpeckers, butterflies and moths. 

How do the conservationists feel about the cruising? One would imagine it would be a source of conflict…

One of my major motivations for doing the project is to find that out by bringing people together to discuss it. There certainly is the potential for conflict, there’s no denying that, but a common theme of my work as an artist is to attempt to bring groups of people together to discuss difficult subjects, ranging from suicide to particle physics. Let’s just say I’m cautiously optimistic!

And what specifically makes the cemetary such an important space for cruising?

There are quite a few different theories about that, but the obvious explanation is that it’s a fairly large wooded and secluded area, that’s dark and so offers plenty of privacy. The whole sex and death thing associated with it being a graveyard is also something that people have written about, not surprisingly! However, I’m keen to explore whether there might be other motives at play, and to talk to people how they feel about having sex in the open air, close to trees and animals and the earth. Or perhaps that’s just being overly romantic…

What do you think are the impacts of highlighting to the wider local community such a secretive (albeit an open secret) practice such as cruising? And what do you hope that people will get out of the walking tours? 

In an ideal world, I would like the project to make people question how they think about Abney Park in terms of acceptable and unacceptable use. I think there’s no reason why cruising shouldn’t be accommodated by the authorities that look after the cemetery, and why the fecundity of nature is celebrated in Abney Park is celebrated, while human sexual activities are frowned upon.  

Tell us one particular highlight of the walking tour…

I’m personally looking forward to the conversations that the tour will spark between passionate entomologists and veteran cruisers. Not to be missed!

Do you anticipate much interest in the tours? What do you think the breakdown will be in terms of closet cruisers and conservationists?

The tours are fairly small – only for about 10-12 people at a time – so attracting an audience shouldn’t be too much of a problem, but you’re right in saying that attracting the more conservation-minded audience might be a challenge. However, I’m in contact with quite a few people involved in the wildlife side of things and their responses encourage me that we’ll get a fair few turning up. 

And what do you personally want to gain out of the project, artistically speaking?

I’m interested in exploring different ways of relating to urban spaces and to nature and in attempting to create scenarios in which diverse groups of people can come together. I’m also interested in imagining strange future possibilities – for this project I really like the idea that cruisers and conservationists might be inspired to work together to protect sites like Abney Park. And perhaps a few cruisers might start doing some wildlife monitoring, and a few conservationists might venture into the Reserve after dark…

Describe the project in one sentence to someone who thinking of joining on the walking tour…

A walking, talking exploration of the wonders of human and animal sexuality – or, possibly, are there bears in these woods?

The Queer Archive: A Weekend Of A Sexual Nature takes place at Dalston Superstore this Saturday 11th January from 9pm – 3am.

For more info on the tours email: or

Fictional Gay Bars!

By Niall Connolly

Gay bars and clubs are, of course, very important for the LGBTQ community, but the depictions of gay bars (ie, spaces where homosexuals can gather and interact as we “really are”, without having to conform to the norms of straight society) can be just as powerful as the real life spaces that gays inhabit. Because, let’s face it, an awful lot of people out there have absolutely no desire to ever visit a gay bar in the flesh, and the closest they will ever come to a gay bar is seeing one depicted on the big or small screens.

With that in mind (and acknowledging that the bars and clubs depicted on this list are shamefully not that diverse, what with the cultural/media myth that every gay bar is basically a male leather biker bar) here’s a short list of our favourite fictional gay bars from film and TV. Please feel free to leave your own suggestions of any we may have missed at the bottom…

The Imperial, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert 

Featured in the opening scenes of one of THE all-time great drag movies, The Imperial looks more than a little rowdy, but also like a lot of goddam fun. As long as you don’t lip sync to Abba. Interestingly, the location where these scenes were filmed has become so legendary that it has now been renamed “Priscilla’s” and hosts regular drag shows.  

The Tool Box, Wayne’s World 2

A great little nod to The Village People and gay culture in general, this scene from Wayne’s World 2 is one of those rare comedy moments where gay bars and patrons are in on, rather than the butt of, the joke. In a way it also foreshadows Mike Myers’ gig as the ULTIMATE gay landlord, Steve Rubell of Studio 54, and also hints at the top-notch job Myers would do with the role. 

Blue Oyster Bar, Police Academy

The, ahem, Daddy of them all. Say the words “gay bar” to most people and this is what most of them will answer with. Actually not as offensive as it could have been, Blue Oyster Bar is perhaps now most notable for its excellent choice in music.

Trade, Sex And The City

Ok two confessions to make here: I am going through a bit of a SATC obsession right now, rewatching the entire show and realising now, at a bit of distance, just how fantasized the “New York” represented in the show is. And secondly: Trade is actually a real gay bar, not a fictionalised locale. But hey, all of SATC seems so utterly unreal now that it might as well be. 

Un-named gay bar, The Sopranos

Anyone who has watched the final series of the Sopranos can not help but be swept up in the brilliant “Vito is GAY?!” storyline, as it swerves from loving self-acceptance to the bitterest of tragedies. And it all started at this unknown gay bar which, seeing as it is full of overweight mafioso in leather S&M gear, is basically my dream come true. Also probably a good place to pay homage to the late, great James Gandolfini, the ultimate “bear” icon. R.I.P.!

BONUS PICK! The Mineshaft, Cruising

The Mineshaft, from William Friedkin’s 1980 murder mystery Cruising, is perhaps the best realisation of the gay bar as a space laden with fear and apprehension for straight society – from the predatory sexuality and exhibitionist sex acts to the gaudy lights and wild drug consumption. Although itself a problematic (if enjoyable) movie, time has been kinder to Cruising than perhaps was expected. Maybe it’s a retro fascination with “vintage” sleaze, or maybe it’s the longing for sexually liberated, pre-AIDS time, but it is interesting to note how the depiction of life at the Mineshaft has gone from one of curious revulsion to something laden with kitsch giggles. 

Read more by Niall at his blog: