Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Straight Girls In A Soho Gay Club



By Leo Owen.

My name is clearly printed on the guest list but unlike other entries mine has an additional capitalised bracketed word beside it: Leo Owen (FEMALE). Sure, this is the ‘Gold Party’ celebrating the renovation of Soho’s The Shadow Lounge – “Europe's number one gay members club” - but I am certainly not the only female. Accompanied by my little sis, we begin our night playing ‘spot the lady’ but soon realise it's really not as challenging a game as we first thought.

Reminiscent of the infamous Studio 54, The Shadow Lounge is tastefully decorated, successfully amalgamating flamboyant disco with Edwardian themed intimate chandeliered booths and a granite grotto bar. The flashing chequered dance floor is accompanied by the obligatory disco ball (it’s the law!) and rather beautifully reflected on the ceiling where faux bullet holes twinkle like stars.

This area is clearly aimed at exhibitionists or the inebriated as it is surrounded by a drinks surface for clientele to prop and admire the talent. Beyond the spectators, more successful customers retreat to the privacy of roomy comfortable booths. A pole sits on a podium near the entrance overlooking the dance floor, hinting at the raucous turn this evening could take.

Right now, the club is quiet enough to admire the array of inaccessible eye candy, all far too attractive to be in one room – guys in tweed jackets, others in boating attire, one resembling James Dean, another going for the classic Rat Pack look, some topless and others outrageously dressed. The clientele is as varied as the music and moves from Janet Jackson to Tina Turner, via Jackson 5 dance remixes, Spiller's famous dance tune “Groovejet (If This Ain't Love)” and the sudden appearance of a talented crooner belting out “Can't Take My Eyes Off You”.

Surrounded by so much perfection, it's inevitable the bitchiness beast is on the warpath - we're unable to stop laughing at the strange mix of bar staff: a Vin Diesel look-a-like, Moll Flanders meets Pirates of the Caribbean, and one who unintentionally seems to be challenging little sis to a ‘quiff-off’. The criticism doesn't stop there and, seeing photographic evidence, mini-me wishes she'd chosen her outfit more wisely, complaining her boobs look like “50-year-old dog ears” and wishing Gok had been available for a pre-club bra-fitting.

Still it's not all disastrous, the quiff is popular and while chatting to some of these hospitable hotties, it's difficult not to laugh when we're mistaken for an exceedingly wrong couple! Floating around in this ocean of talent are plenty of friendly and intriguing folk – an Andy Warhol wannabe, the “Got To Dance” guy, a hypnotist and rumours of Graham Norton safely harboured somewhere in a cordoned off private booth. Chatting to a regular, I'm told it's impossible not to have a good night in The Shadow Lounge. Sure, the drinks our pricey, but hey, it's central London. Pretty packed now and we've had such a good time, we've almost missed our tube.

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