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One of London’s longest-running fetish clubs is set to close

By Samuel McManus

One of London’s longest-running leather clubs is set to close its doors for good, it has been announced.

According to Gay Star News, an email was sent out last Thursday (November 21) to members of monthly gay night Hard-On, announcing the closure of the south London venue The Hoist.

The Vauxhall club is famed for its fetish nights and dress code consisting of leather, uniform, rubber, industrial, skinhead, full sports kit, and boots and jocks.

Hoist owner Guy Irwin has since confirmed the closure but assured fans of the club that it has not been a victim of gentrification, like other iconic queer clubs such as The Black Cap, Joiner’s Arms, and Madame Jojo’s.

“We haven’t been forced out of the venue and business hasn’t been bad. In fact, in recent weeks, business has been incredible,” he told Gay Star News.

“In all honesty, we opened the Hoist 21 years ago: it was going to originally be for just two years. That turned into seven years, and then 10, 12 and 15.

“Now, after 21 years, me and Kurt [his former partner] have simply had enough. We decided to do an ABBA – and go out at our peak! We wanted to go out on a high.”

Hoist’s final night will take place on Sunday 11 December, after which, the owner is considering retirement.

“I’m 56 next week and I live a quiet life in rural Norfolk with my husband and two dogs,” Guy said.

“We negotiated with Network Rail to get out of our lease. They’ve been a decent landlord. They are not, as far as I understand, wanting to lease it to another nightclub business.”

He added: “We had a great 21 years but we’re happy to walk away.”

While Hoist does not appear to have been sold to make way for luxury apartments or a chain venue, like other LGBT+ venues, the closure will still come as a blow to clubbers who have seen a number of much-loved bars and clubs disappear from London’s scene.

On 4 Novembe, London Mayor Sadiq Khan appointed queer activist and performer Amy Lamé as night czar, with many people hoping that her influence will help to slow the decline of London’s LGBT+ scene.

Earlier this year, a number of LGBT+ landmarks were given Historic England blue plaques in a bid to recognise and preserve the contributions LGBT+ people have made to society.

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