10 (slightly cynical) Tips for Gay Tourists coming to London for the great summer of 2012

Because while free gay sheets like to tell you how "fabulous" and "rocking" everything is, all that glitters is not gold... (although it's possibly Pure Gold, depending which bar you're in) ...

Drinks are really cheap...

but so are most gays on the London scene, so don’t feel obliged to buy anyone a drink – and certainly don’t include strangers if you’re buying a round. Anyone earning between £15k and £35k in London lives in a state of pseudo-poverty because London is so expensive, and so buying someone a drink could piss them off as it means they have to buy you one when they were probably quite happy watching the video screen in their K-hole. It's not like Paris where buying drinks is a gesture of new friendship. Build a friendship in London based around money and you have to keep inserting coins every two minutes, friendships here are better built on bitching, background and fucking.

The English boy you offer a drink to will most likely feign an expression of carefree rapture while cackling their order of a double vodka ("and hey - let's do shots too!") and then they won’t buy you anything back. They’ll hold an empty glass for four entire songs waiting for you to go to the toilet before buying themselves the next drink, and if at any point you lift a hand as if to suggest they get a drink they will grab your hand and pirouette to Rihanna with it going "HOPE-LESSSS PLACCE!"

Luckily though drinks are so cheap in London (compared to drinking out in the rest of the world) that you can afford to buy them on a whim. Drinks aren't very strong here though. A vodka lemon in Barcelona is enough to get you standing on a chair slapping your dick in time to Will.I.Am. Over here you get childrens' party tumblers stacked with ice and hot dishwasher dribble, pumped with a squirt of watered down brandless vodka and a jerk of Matalan Cola-esque. 

Students have the most money here because it's all borrowed and they haven't stopped to consider what their early twenties are going to be like - a never ending smack in the face with a splintered plank. Old people have money too so it's quite safe to alternate rounds with them, but they labour over their drinks a bit so you might need to host your own private interval drinks, or get two old guys going at once. Old guys have the best stories about London too because they knew London when it wasn't a recession-strangled homogenised refrigerated sandwich of a city. 

Don’t get taxis from bar to bar...

It is almost always easier to get the tube or walk between bars. Taxis in central London will simply sit in traffic for fifteen minutes, asking you passive-interrogative questions and then take you to see Stonehenge in Wiltshire muttering something about "one way system loop road traffic closed road block need to head down here" then proceed to charge you £20.  If you're with friends then use night buses, London's are among the best in Europe and operate around the clock (so that immigrant cleaners can get into office blocks before the privileged wake up). If in doubt get a bus to Trafalgar Square or Tottenham Court Road – they’re really well connected central hubs for other buses. Never ask someone how to get a bus "to London", even if you’re in a savagely far-out district like Hackney, the people who live in those areas genuinely believe that they too are living in London. To you London is basically the bits you get inside a snow dome, but to us it's more of a state of mind and includes anything within a 500 metre radius of a Chicken Cottage. Don't fall asleep on night buses. There are loads of thieves and the CCTV footage almost always proves totally fucking useless. Also the drivers don't wake you up, even though you're wearing a party vest and are the only one left on the bus and there are herds of cows outside chewing grass in the smoggy light of dawn. He'll wake you up when he gets to the depot and then proceed to do a Sudoku with Heart FM on while giving you incoherent sneery half-answers, and take sick pleasure in knowingly ruining your weekend.

Don’t ask how much our flat costs...

Because most people in London are massively ripped off and pay extortionate amounts to live in a shit hole (also known as "maisonette", "studio flat" or "city pad"), and to make it worse these flats are usually around the corner from a tree-lined street full of gorgeous empty houses that are owned by foreign investors who come here for two weeks a year. Basically, whatever we earn at work we spend on living in London and the reason we drink so much is to momentarily forget the fact that once a month we effectively open our bedroom window and tip a bin bag's worth of quids into the street. It’s a hand-to-mouth game in London, and yes we know we could buy a 17 bedroom house where you live, and that it's always sunny there, but there aren’t any gay indie boys with radio shows, peanut M&Ms, toilet seats in bars, fulfilling careers or celebrity sightings there – so it’s swings and roundabouts.

Don’t go to Vauxhall...

Under the impression that you will go somewhere else after. Once in Vauxhall you stay in Vauxhall until the night ends. It's like the last level of Sonic. But do go to Vauxhall – it’s very, very good fun.

Don’t tell us that...

You don't know who The Saturdays are, or Sophie Ellis-Bextor, or Nicola Roberts, or Barbarellas. This is who The Saturdays are:

This is Sophie:

And this is Nicola:

And yeah, fair dos, Barbarellas are a bit random.

Just let us enjoy our shaky assortment of odd pop stars and keep on living the beautiful eye-shadowed lie. If you're in a London gay bar and see someone on the video screen who you do not recognise then ask a straight girl. Straight girls are prepared to explain these things because they also liaise with straight boys who are equally as non-plussed about English pop stars who haven’t had tit jobs. If the straight girl doesn't know then it'll be Jodie Harsh. And when European chart hits occasionally come on, don't go overboard and knock everyone's drinks over. Alexandra Stan may be the poet laureate of your home town but to us she's a bit of cheap crap tat and we're only dancing to Mr. Saxobeat because we're a sheepish culture that does what it's told, secretly we despise the song and are using dramatic head-jerking dance moves to survey the bar for hot boys so that when Missy Elliott comes on we can put our hand on the small of their back and grunt into their ear "gimme some NU shit"

Mouth SELECT song lyrics...

But not the whole song, and definitely don’t sing anything. Song lyrics are a social currency among gays in London. Unlike Germany where you throw arms around each other and actually enjoy a sing-along, here in London it’s more about pretending you’re a solo artist. Only mime select words though, to prove that you know the song. Never mouth the whole song or else people might assume you left school at fourteen and that song lyrics are the equivalent of scholastic achievement for you and that you're a stupid bint. Stupid bints are the ones who even sing bracketed lyrics like: “I know you like me (I know you like me). I know you do (I know you do).” A slightly better bint will omit the brackets. A good gay will just occasionally go “Wrong. Like. Me”, ideally while exhaling smoke and squinting at something across the road. Don’t sing anything though. In London only Adam Lambert lookalikes and fat ladies sing. The London gay community are currently bracing themselves for the Glee generation coming of age. We're still not sure what we're going to do, possibly carry truncheons, or home-made razor-blade tambourines. Hopefully they'll all piss off to America and study there.

Don’t beat around the bush...

Because gay guys in London like simple clear messages. Most of us had to endure excruciating provincial adolescent years in which we tried to tell boys we fancied them by asking them if they needed anything from Londis or watching entire football matches with the hope of a mutual wank at the end. There’s no need for preamble. Life is so short and our looks are fading with each Madonna album.

SWAP: “So I think I have to get two buses to Bayswater, how long do you think that will take? How often does the N253 come? Are you going to another club after this?”

FOR: “Let's go back to yours”

Don't even try to figure out if they're a bottom or a top, most gay boys in London aren't even sure so they just drink enough to cover themselves.

The gay Londoner will almost always say Yes to a shag, or better, say "Let's go for a drink alone somewhere then back to mine", or EVEN better, they'll take you to Balans (a 24 hour uber-faggy restaurant on Old Compton St) for sugar-rimmed cocktails and chips, and THEN go home for a shag.

If they say No to a shag then they're a waste of time anyway because they're either in a straight-style relationship, shit at shagging (and so trying to waste as much of your time as possible before you realise this - in the faint hope that by that point you'll have fallen for them, which you'll soon snap out of when you realise that they're shit at shagging) or they're looking for a Will Young type boyfriend who wears olive jumpers that they can take home to their mother and napalm Instagram day trip photos of all over their Facebook to prove something inexplicable to people they hate from their school days.

All I'm saying is - don't expcet gay Londoners to act like Colin Firth. Have you ever heard someone say "Ah London - the city of romance" ? No, because we're loose shallow fuckers. Asking for a lighter is like reciting a sonnet to us. Don't over think things. Touch crotch.

Compliment us...

And you’ll get exactly what you want out of a gay Londoner. Some jaded tourists fall into the trap of complaining about how rubbish England is, how fat everyone is, how rude we are, how tired we look, how expensive everything is, how we’re America's bitch, how stuck up we are, how we wage illegal wars, how Gwen Stefani doesn't even live here that much. Look. We know we're the baddies right, but there's nothing we can do about it. More than 1 million of us marched outside Westminster saying “don't obliterate Iraq”, but it doesn’t work. Our way of coping with this is having a league of half-baked socio-political journalists who write alarmist rants for left field news websites, a bit like George Orwell's two minutes of hate, and then we head off to Starbucks with our iPads feeling aware, while the half-baked journalists tweet about themselves, nurse their precious two paragraph Wikipedia page and email links to their Mums who secretly will always wish that their son had become a lawyer like their friend Valerie's son Hugo anyway.

Instead of reminding us how much we all suck and that for every Leona Lewis charity single there's a massacred town in the Middle East somewhere (I can't be more specific because we're only taught about Nazis and ox-bow lakes in school to prevent us from realising that we're the baddies and our nation's best-selling newspapers are full of largely fictitious shit), instead just tell us how you like our voices which are like Hugh Grant in Notting Hill (which incidentally there is no point visiting while you're in London, it's bland as fuck), how our eyes look all babyish and like a puppy's, how you love Absolutely Fabulous and Fawlty Towers, how our shops are so much better than yours.

Basically, tell a gay guy in London that you really like his aftershave on a Saturday night and you’ll have your own set of keys by Tuesday. We're pathetic egomaniacs. It started aged eight when we put on lavishly imaginative plays for our friends' parents at collection time and danced privately in our bedrooms pretending to be Kim from Vengaboys.

All we want is to be loved. English gay men are so under-loved that if you write one a thank you card following a dinner party they will keep it on their mantle piece until Christmas.

Don’t ask for a phone number...

Because there’s nothing worse than receiving drunk and badly-written second-language texts from unsaved numbers while holding your friend’s jacket while they piss behind a wheelie bin, looking out for the police AND trying to remember where the next bar is exactly so that you don't look like a fool in front of the boy you just picked up. We don’t organise and plan our nights out in London just like we don't go to church or the dentist that much. We're pagans, we just sort of fall into town and see where the pinball wizard flips us.

The best bet is to add a boy on Facebook, catch them on Facebook chat around 7.45pm while their bath is running or their pizza’s in the oven, and make a note of which bars they roughly plan to go out in.

Then simply turn up at those bars bringing as many boys as you can meet along the way, from tube carriages, escalators, cash machine queues. If you really want to impress a gay guy in London then turn up with more boys. There can never be enough boys. Even twinks understand probability, even if they couldn't explain it. Lots of London gays will ask you for your number, this is a habit from their school days, they haven't yet realised that having someone's phone number on a night out is fucking feckless. If we're not underground on the Tube then we're dancing to Timebomb or punching our PIN into a cash machine or arguing with a bouncer. There's no time for phones. London's gay scene breaks down into districts and each district is smaller than you think - you'll find the boys from last night eventually. Relax. 

Know your gay saunas...

If you get completely lost in London on a night out then just go to a gay sauna like Chariots near Old Street or Pleasuredrome by Waterloo. They’re open 24 hours, warm, hilarious, sell coffee and you can read soggy copies of Boyz magazine until daylight is your friend again. It's a misconception that gay saunas are seedy. Elements of them are cheaply candid yes, but come on - we're all adults - what are you so afraid of? If you go with friends though then don't stumble around giggling and chatting loudly to each other. Saunas should be treated like chapels of rest, as if Stalin is lying somewhere behind the jacuzzi in an open coffin.



  1. so how much does your pad costs?

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  3. I stumbled upon your blog by accident and found its Byronic mischievous observations funny and acute. I haven't lived in London for decades, seems like centuries, thanks for the update. J.K.

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  5. Actually ridiculous impression of what gay guys are like in London. I can't believe what I've actually just read.

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