Sunday, 6 March 2016

London: City Of Pleasure

I am talking to Edward, a retired professional about to hit 70, a pillar of the local Jewish community, born in South Africa to Russian parents (“My father worked with Trotsky”). On Wednesdays and Sundays, he says, “there are SBN nights. That’s Stark Bollock Naked. They start at 2.30pm, very convenient if you don’t want to stay up late on Sunday night.”

Edward and his fiancĂ© like to go to the sex clubs that Rees was talking about, of which the best known are in Vauxhall. They are often in railway arches, because the space is large, cheap, windowless, anonymous and contains noise, and it doesn’t matter when a train goes overhead. They also give the sense of “going into the darker side of life”. The outside will be discreet although with a special enclosure to deal with the fact that the law requires smoking to take place outside, but the clubbers don’t want to be seen from the street naked or nearly so. There might in the low light be “400, 500 guys all looking the same, all dressing the same: well built, a bit of leather and beard, a harness or something. Fashions change… The music is too loud to talk. At my age I’m hard of hearing." ...

Now, Edward says, the clubbing and bar scenes feed on one another. The more people come, the more attractive these places become. London is a world leader. “People fly in from all over. Paris is less tolerant. Amsterdam doesn’t have the critical mass. Rome has got the Pope in the Vatican. Los Angeles and San Francisco? America doesn’t allow as much as the English do. They have their Bible Belt.” He sees it as part of the city’s wider cultural and economic attractiveness and openness – fashion, art, food, investment – that come from a “stable society and a free society”. “London belongs to the foreigners,” he says. “We the foreigners feel at home. It’s our city, it’s not yours.” ...


From London, City Of Pleasure, an essay by Rowan Moore in The Observer.

Fagburn did a double take on reading the word 'fiancé'.

Can we not coin our own term - anyone for 'fiangay'?

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