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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Isobel Van Dyke

How can London have only one lesbian bar?

Lesbians lining the streets as far as you can see? Eyes locking, carabiner clips clinking, the faint aroma of Tom Ford’s Ombre Leather in the air? No, this was not a Fiona Apple concert, this was Broadway Market two weeks ago as hundreds of the capital’s lesbians flocked to their new watering hole, La Camionera.

If you somehow didn’t see the videos of what has since been dubbed Winter Pride, I’m not exaggerating when I say you couldn’t move for sapphics. Think Columbia Road Christmas carols, but make it Carol starring Cate Blanchett. We gathered for the grand launch of the new bar, resulting in a street party that saw corner shops hike prices and passersby stop to ask: ‘What are you protesting?’

For weeks prior this mysterious bar had been the hot gossip within lesbian circles as we tried to work out who was behind it, who was leaking the group chat messages and, hold on, was that Arlo Parks wearing the merch? One question had already been answered, as the founder told me in a previous issue of ES Magazine: the whole point of being anonymous was so that the space wasn’t attached to any specific lesbian group — which worked wonders considering they all showed up.

The next day, TikTok did its thing. At the time of writing this, one clip has more than 1.2 million views, while others are being stitched by Girl in Red. Of course, with a social media storm comes criticism, too — though mainly from those who missed out. Mostly, people were confused and saddened that it isn’t (yet) a permanent space.


#duet with @lleo #lesbianthings

♬ original sound - girl in red

In all of London there is only one full-time lesbian bar, She Soho. Now, if you’re looking for a space that’s open late where you’re guaranteed to flirt or dance with other lesbians, you’ll find that at She Soho. If you want a place with a little more ambience and a lot less Little Mix, you’ll have to go to, er, back 70 years (look up The Gateways).

At La Camionera, most people never even made it inside because they got caught up in the crowd outside. Yes, there were a few hiccups on the night, but it proved that London’s lesbian community is in desperate need of a new spot. And an inclusive one, too. While writing this, a news story is being shared about the opening of a Terf-led lesbian members’ club that seeks to exclude trans women.

La Camionera is absolutely not that. It is a trans and non-binary inclusive space that does not tolerate discrimination of any kind. The news of this transphobic bar makes the permanent existence of places like La Camionera even more vital to our community, and now those behind it are fighting to make this a reality.

A fundraiser has been set up to turn what was our ‘Winter Pride’ into a full-time, six-nights-a-week venue with a bigger capacity so more people are inside than out. If you’re part of the community and want to return to La Camionera; if you missed out and want to see it for yourself; if you believe lesbians need an inclusive space of our own; even if you’re an ally, consider donating to keep La Camionera’s doors open for good. Donate to La Camionera here.

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