We slept in. London is about 5 hours ahead of Toronto. I wasn’t getting up before lunch time. Our only plan for Saturday was dinner with Joe and Charlotte, then a gay night out. Joe had another commitment so we only got to see Charlotte.
We met at Leicester Square, Exit/Entrance #1, on the corner, at the front of an alleyway. London is busy. I don’t like crowds. Or being constantly so physically close to other people (with clothes on and mostly unattractive). Dan had scoped out nearby restaurant reviews online and had found a Vietnamese place that had a few vegetarian options. We headed down Wardour Street, pronouncing it like Hodor from Game of Thrones, and put our names down. We had a half an hour to wait so we went for a drink at a nearby gay bar that had go go dancers in their undies, Village. I walked all around New York to find male go go dancers and here they were in London! The straight women outside ogled with jaws dragging on the ground. The straight women inside did the same. The gay guys were too busy checking each other out. We bought Jager bombs from a shirtless wandering bar man for 4 pounds each.
I haven’t seen Charlotte since she moved to London a few years ago. It was good to see her, and hear of her experiences living in the crowded and expensive capital. Joe is keen to return to Australia so they’ll both be back in Perth at the end of the year as well. We commiserated the impending end of our exciting years living abroad and shared apprehension that life would soon be over, even though it will probably be OK, less crowded and with better food and accomodation. Although extremely full from just one curry with rice and a few spring rolls I found room for a gelato as we strolled through the crowds after dinner. We made the most of having more than one gay pub and gay nightclub to go to and walked to G-A-Y after dinner, then to Heaven.
Heaven, a multi-level network of cavernous spaces under brick arches next to the Thames, was dark and smelly. And dusty. There was no queue when we arrived, at about 23:30. We walked through metal detectors, were frottage-frisked and paid a discounted entry (we picked up wristbands at G-A-Y). I kept forgetting that a Pound Sterling is about A$2 and thought the drinks were marvellously cheap. They weren’t. We spent a lot. We stayed by the main dance floor, up a stairwell on a metal balcony overlooking the crowd. It wasn’t so crowded up there. We watched the crowd swell from about 10 isolated small groups of 3 or 4 and a few solo dancers (including an Asian man in an A-frame simple dress who appeared to be enjoying himself) to a swarm of people mostly so young they should be at home studying for First Year university exams. Charlotte and I relished in the opportunity to people-watch.
I liked to observe the varied reactions to over-sized blow-up balloons that appeared at about midnight. Initially people were excited, looking about, eager to join in the game and jumping to hit a balloon before it landed. This excitement quickly dissipated and the balloons were ignored, and bumped unsuspecting people on the head. Including me, from behind. Rarely (< 5% of events) it would miss a person entirely and land on the floor. Occasionally somebody would grab a balloon and hold on to it, wanting to change the game to something else but quickly to realise nobody else wanted to play a new game and discard. One balloon got stuck on an air conditioner close to our balcony but Dan could only reach it enough to hit it further back toward the wall. One balloon got stuck high up above a speaker. I wished for a bow-and-arrow, except I’m not a good shot and would be liable to injure somebody on the dance floor when the arrow hit a light and fell.
We stayed out until about half past midnight, which we felt was more than adequate for our jet-lag and over-thirty age bracket. There were queues around the corner and up the street and I immediately regretted not going to pee one last time. Thankfully there were outdoor urinals around the corner on the main street, where we waited for night buses. We hugged our goodbyes, everybody hoping we would be happy to be home in Australia when we saw each other again. Dan and I caught the night bus(es) home. Last time we did this, about a decade ago, we were in our twenties and it was fun. We were with Scott and Rohan. Now, in my mid thirties I just wondered why we didn’t catch a cab home. It would be quicker and more direct.