Stoke Newington: The New Mecca


I hardly have any gay friends, especially girl gay friends.

It’s a lifetime tragedy.

But I’m working on it.

I’d ideally like to cultivate an ‘L Word‘ style posse. (I’ve already got MaM, who has a flourishing gay posse that I like to imagine flutter around her in constant attendance. I’m not a big enough fan of the L word to be able to classify her according to the characters. I just call her gay-bait.)

I have a few boy gay friends, but it’s hard to get them to go with you to girly bars. If you whine enough they might reluctantly be your wing-man, but give it barely 30 mins and they will tut, toss their flowing locks and say,

“No one is paying me any attention here! OMG I need constant bhav please! I’m off to find some juicy hot cock! See yas! Toodles and so long, you’re on your own girlfriend, Byee-e!”

Maybe they’ll do that snap and Z thing. (I can never do it right, I’m really not ghetto enough.) Anyway off they flounce.

Fucking annoying ditchers.

I’m bored with boy centric gay bars; I still enjoy them of course, but the novelty has worn off. There seem to be far fewer girly bars in London and I suspect they are not quite as successful as Heaven or G-A-Y, which seem to be male dominated.

I have a theory about why this is. It’s a theory totally unsubstantiated by facts or cold hard stats. But that’s never stopped me before.

I was once on my way to the Candy Bar with a couple of friends, and this girl’s girlfriend called her and said,

“If you go to the Candy Bar, I am breaking up with you.”

This threat obviously upset the girl enough to make her go home promptly, to the summons of the imperious, overly-jealous spouse. I guess the spouse felt threatened by the bar. Specifically a girly bar.

My ex flat-mate however, who is also has a spouse, goes to Heaven practically every Friday/Saturday night just to meet his jing. He said it was just like going down to the local pub. A pub with sweaty, shirtless men, dancing in tight-tight chaddies.

So my conclusion is… (I learned you have to do this from my dissertation: You say ‘My conclusion is…’ then you talk utter nonsense) that girls are more threatened by bars on the assumption that you’d only go there because you’re on the prowl. Boys don’t care either way. Maybe that’s explains why girly bars are more sporadic. Well, that’s my theory anyway.

On a Friday night couple of weeks ago, A4’s suggested we go to Stoke Newington to investigate this lesbian pub called the Oak Bar. So yay, let’s go!

Big mistake.

They say you should learn from your mistakes and I learned 2 things from this mistake.

  1. Never go to Stoke Newington just for one solitary gay pub. Aim for a place with multiple back-up bars in the same vicinity.
  2. Never go to Stoke Newington.

I had heard that Stoke Newington is the new lesbian mecca. Everyone says so.

I can tell you right now, based on Friday night that it is a categorical scam just to entice the gays to Stoke Newington. A cheap, low-down scam. There is nothing in Stoke Newington. Ok, so there was a junk shop full of the usual tat and I love tat. But that’s it.

The second mistake I made was to take the ex with me. The ex enjoys well organised, well planned events. Everything must fall into line, all according to schedule. This is why the ex is so efficient in life and why I am largely incompetent, constantly getting lost.

The ex and I got lost because I made another mistake about when to get off the bus.

We only realised when the ex’s iPhone geo-locator showed us quickly speeding down the wrong road. Then as soon as we got off the bus we had a fight. A really pointless fight. About cake. I’m not joking. The fight was about cake, Birthday cake to be precise. In the past I have bought birthday cakes (I didn’t this year, hence fight), only for the ex to pick at a tiny sliver and then promptly bin them. The ex said I should buy better cakes. Then I argued that the ex would hate all the cakes because the ex doesn’t like icing. The ex baked a cake once and I was excited because wow, fresh home-made cake! Then I was told,

“I’m not making icing because I hate icing on a cake.”

What kind of cake has no icing??? So I didn’t eat that cake. Then I brought this up as an example of how I’d never find a suitable birthday cake that the ex would eat. The ex said if I bought better cakes it would get eaten.

Fascinating argument no? But seriously, what kind of cake has no icing? A cake without icing is just a semi-sweetish bread. It’s not cake!

Then the ex said

“I’m not coming to this stupid bar. I’m going home.”

In the past I would have tried to beg, plead, whine or coerce the ex into staying. But I have learnt from the error of my youthful ways that if someone says ‘I’m going’, just let them. No drama-shama. Say bye, chalo tata and it’ll be better than some emo show-down.

“Fine! Go then! Whatever! Thanks for ruining my evening!”

I said, somewhat dramatically, then I stalked off to find this fucking bar.

I finally found the Oak bar. It wasn’t far from where we got lost and I turn to see the ex following me at a distance. (Hah!)

I was expecting a nice little gay pub, comfy with soft couches yet still sleek (as a gay bar ought to be) and packed to the brim with homos. So I peek inside – The place is barren. It had 4 uninteresting looking ‘blokes’, 1 straight looking girl, another behind the bar and a very old, fat man hovering about.

Worst of all it reeked of the ghosts of drunkards past and years of cumulative split beer, layered on all the woodwork in this joint. A real mood killer of a stink. They really needed to invest in some air freshener.

A4 hadn’t arrived yet due to tube problems. Then A4 also got hopelessly lost. BECAUSE THIS BAR IS IN THE MIDDLE OF FUCKING NOWHERE!

During this time the ex took one little sniff of the pub and bailed promptly. I had expected it. The ex isn’t hanging about some smelly, bloke-filled pub in Stoke Newington. I stood outside the pub in the cold smoking 5 cigarettes one after another because it made me uncomfortable to wait in a practically empty pub alone and I felt obliged to do something while standing outside.

Eventually A4 showed up, and just because we had trekked so far we dutifully went in and hoped something would happen – maybe a whole cruise liner of drag queens would show up. At about 9 we almost thought something might happen because someone in fancy dress (slutty fairy) walked in. We hopefully expected more to follow, but only 2 more arrived (Slutty Wonder woman and another slutty fairy) and they all joined the blokes. So we gave up and left.

We wandered around the junk shop on the way back to the bus top and A4 ate a pizza. I had a plum tart in my bag left-over from lunch and we ate that too. We finally headed back to civilization and went to The Green to dull the edge of the disappointment of the Oak bar. A palate cleanser if you will. Ah! At last; wall-to-wall mirrors, camp, disdainful bar staff and Gaga hits blaring – now this is a gay bar.

But don’t worry I didn’t come home entirely empty-handed. I found a place in Stoke Newington that was selling lychees so I got very excited and bought a couple of kilos (I love lychees and I hadn’t had them in years).

So the moral of the story folks is that lychees are better than lesbians.

The end


11 thoughts on “Stoke Newington: The New Mecca

  1. I think it should be said that my lesbian ‘posse’ is on hiatus thanks to a discussion featuring whips, blindfolds and handcuffs which seems to have dissolved said lesbian into silence. I also hasten to add I brought none of those things up first…

  2. Ok so, being an unreasonable straight man living in Stoke Newington I can’t take you dissing my neighbourhood and saying that it isn’t a lesbian mecca even though this is completely irrelevant to me.

    First off and most importantly..You weren’t even in Stoke Newington, if anything The Oak Bar is in Newington Green..miles away. But I appreciate you need to elaborate on the truth for the sake of your point.

    I was in The Oak Bar years ago when I lived over that way. Someone had suggested this place having obviously never been there before. It seemed perfect, dark and loud and full women. Great. I should point out that I’m hopeless at spotting gay women, they show the same disinterest and apathy towards me that women in all sorts of pubs and clubs do anyhow. After half an hour I finally twigged on to the story…”wait a minute…”

    And so I left. And never returned.

    I passed there a few months ago and noticed that the place has changed. It’s been taken over by a different management, Turkish, like most places on Green Lanes. And that’s the place that you went to. Right place, just a few years too late.

    But back to Stoke Newington. A couple of things have been repeadetly said about Stoke Newington in the past few years, That it’s a haven for yummy mummies and that there is the largest lesbian community in the UK there with the exception of Brighton. I don’t know how true this is. I heard it a few times but through lack of interest never paid it much mind. I reckon you should actually go to Stoke Newington next time and find out the truth. Try a bar called Blush. It’s on the street I’ve lived on for three years and is the only bar in a two mile radius I’ve not gone to. Go figure…

  3. You’ve convinced me – I will take my L word posse and investigate Stoke VERY throughly as soon as I can. BTW gay women have the exact same reaction to me as to you. You should join my posse.

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