Thank you for the nice comments on my last post about the closure of the Scooter Café in London. It's a shame they've decided to throw in the (tea)towel but I expect a similar venue will arise there.
I thought it worth adding a bit more detail to this as Lower Marsh is the sort of street that caters to anyone and everyone and illustrates how people of all sorts can live happily together despite obvious differences and preferences. And a regular trans event used to be held there.
At one end of the street is a lively Cuban bar, at the other a pub frequented by bikers. Along the way you pass stalls selling street food from round the world (oh, and a Greggs for the home crowd), an Asian supermarket, a railway bookshop with everything for the trainspotter about town, cafés and restaurants of all sorts, a costume shop for partygoers, a small art gallery, and other shops and businesses. In the middle is Lounge 34, a cocktail bar that used to be the monthly venue for the well-attended trans event known as the Drab Drink, which is for London TGirls who are unable to get out dressed but who want to meet others similarly placed. More on the Drab Drink, then and now, below.
So salsa fans and hairy bikers, hobby geeks and fancy dress partygoers, local residents and office workers wanting a sandwich, theatregoers and commuters wanting to eat or drink out, TGirls in stealth and not... a huge mix of people in the one place who rub along very well. This is how a commercial street should be, something for everyone. A far cry from places that are suspicious of anything from outside their community. It's the sort of place where I can thrive, not the type of sterile world created by social, political or religious bigotries. The family I grew up in would hate it, but that's their loss.
Anyway, if you want more on the Scooter Café, so-called as it was previously a motorcycle repair shop, try this short illustrated review by the Veteran Vespa Club (there was an old Vespa scooter in the window): Scooter Caffè.
They're right, the Italian form, Scooter Caffè is actually what it was called. Apparently the café featured in one of the Bourne films. It was a studied shabby chic that understated the quality food and drink, and attracted a youngish crowd (so I felt totally at home lol!)
As an aside for history buffs, just behind here is the former entrance to the Funeral Trains platforms of Waterloo Station. The best explanation of this service I've ever come across is from vlogger Jago Hazzard, whose dry sense of humour may appeal ("the dead had their own coffin tickets, though presumably return fares weren't available") and who has a lot of shots of the area, including some of the grot that still persists. If you want an idea of how Britain was divided by class and faith, the funeral train service is one of the best illustrations you could wish for. The eclectic South London of today is very different.
I'm pleased to see that this event is still going and is now called the London Trans+ Meet Up. It's an informal meet-up on the first Thursday of every month. You do not need to dress to attend. Fuller contact details by clicking here.
The next meeting will be this Thursday, 1 September, from 7pm at the Retro Bar in George Court just off the Strand (WC2N 6HH). (George Court is not easy to find despite being off one of the capital's main thoroughfares but it is on the south side of the Strand sandwiched between the Halifax Building Society and Superdrug, very near the pedestrian crossing leading from the Charing Cross Police Station/William IV St junction.)
I attended Drab Drink once when it was in Lower Marsh. That was when my skin problem precluded my wearing makeup. Oddly, I don't seem to have written about it on my blog at the time. But I found it friendly, non-judgmental and a way to meet other trans people in an informal way.
I wish them every success.