Last gay pub petitions council to save strip night

White Swan: Last surviving gay pub in Tower Hamlets pic: Ewan Munro

London’s longest-running gay comedy strip contest could be banned following the Tower Hamlet council’s recent sex establishment consultation. The weekly event is held in the borough’s last gay pub, the White Swan.

White Swan owners are calling on Tower Hamlets council not to include the pub’s comedy strip contest in the consultation. The contest, hosted by drag queens, sees volunteers from the audience take part in the show.

In a petition presented to the Council on Tuesday 29, White Swan wants the council not to include the establishment, as “there is no prostitution or exploitation on the premises.” The online and paper petition currently has over 800 signatures.

The council consultation asked businesses and residents to give their opinions on whether lap dancing venues and similar places should be banned and ended on October 17. EastLondonLines covered the consultation in October as it came to and end.

The results of the consultation will be released early next year and the minutes from the council meeting will be online in the next few weeks.

But Barry Kirk, one of the owners of White Swan on Commercial Road, Limehouse, said: “White Swan isn’t a sex establishment, we’re just basically a gay pub that has an amateur strip night.”

James McFauld, co-owner, added: “We’re a gay venue, we don’t exploit women.”

The gay venue, which opened in 1985, is not under threat of closure but will have to stop the Wednesday strip night. The event is men-only and the people who participate do so on a voluntary basis.

Daryl Stafford, author of the White Swan peitition, explained that residents, police or licensing authorities have never received complaints.

“Gay clubs have a cultural history of having gay strippers. I see absolutely no reason why Tower Hamlets should be different from the rest of the country,” Stafford told EastLondonLines.


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