Bronski Beat’s Smalltown Boy Finds his home at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern

I moved to London in 2000; a naive country boy fleeing the final act of a twelve year relationship, in the hope of establishing fresh roots and a new way of being. After a number of failed attempts to ground myself socially, I was reverentially advised by a handsome Soho stranger (there were so many in those early days it seemed) to head ‘sarf of the river’ to the ‘Royal Vauxhall Tavern’.

With the ‘Royal’ reverberating grandly in my perceptions, it nonetheless took me several weekly attempts to summon courage enough to enter the venue (usually surrounded by gaggles of shirtless men) yet when I steeled myself to pass through the doors into a suprisingly small, but jam-packed space, I was at once overwhelmed with unexpected emotions and an instinctive sense of community and history. On attempting to order a pint at the heaving bar, I found myself unexpectedly overwhelmed with emotions; the only words I could verbalise were not ‘I’d like a pint’ but ‘I’m home.’

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