In, Out, In, Out…

 

…shake it all about.

I’m getting a bit confused at Greenwich’s ‘gay’ watering holes. Admittedly I’ve been out of the loop recently but it does seem to be a bit on the odd side.

Of course, years ago, it always used to be the Gloucester Arms where Greenwich’s LGBT community used to drink, before it was taken over by INC and revamped several dozen times (it’s currently the Greenwich Tavern, though briefly, of course, this time last year, the Gold & Saddle).

Not as many times as the poor old Cricketers, though, which was where INC tried to move their former regulars when they turfed them out of the Gloucester. It was ‘transformed’ into the ghastly Powder Monkey and rightly shunned by a traditionally pretty quiet community – being gay doesn’t make you totally devoid of taste. (The poor old place went on to attempt to be a tiki bar, catering for Greenwich’s thousands of South Sea Island ex-pats, a rave joint, a chill-out lounge and a very smelly fish & chip shop before finally becoming home to Goddard’s pie shop.)

So for years the Rose & Crown, on the corner of Nevada Street and Crooms Hill, became home to LGBT folk wanting to drink together. It was never ‘exclusively’ gay – always a healthy thing  in my humble, but it was fun, friendly and welcoming.

Until it wasn’t. New landlord, new regimen. For a while the R&C wasn’t as ‘gay-friendly’ as before, so many LGBT people hoofed it up Royal Hill to the Prince of Greenwich, which used to be the Prince Albert.

Keeping up? Wish I was…

The the R&C changed its mind. It’s now got another new manager and is actively wooing LGBT drinkers back, though without what Steve, who’s been trying to explain all this to me calls ‘the bells and whistles,’ to make it more ‘inclusive.’  TBH I never found the old R&C un-inclusive, personally.

So now the community’s split.

And – in many ways why not? I mean not all of Greenwich’s straight drinkers pile into one single pub. Perhaps it’s good to have choice – ultimately it may make both places even better by keeping them on their toes with promotions and events. But what promotions?

How about a drag race – that’ll keep people on their toes (or heels…)

The traditional Greenwich Drag Race has been going, according to the Metro Centre website, for eight years. I’m a bit puzzled by that as I am sure I covered the first one and I’ve only been going for seven years, but maybe I just went to it, in those prehistoric times before I started scrawling about my experiences.

The race always used to start at the Rose & Crown, but more recently it’s been at the Prince of Greenwich. And there’s no change there – this year’s will start at the Prince on 14th September and usual rules apply:

Participants must wear drag and Drag Queens are required to wear a heel of at least 2 inches. Drag Kings must sport facial hair. Prizes will be awarded for the winning Drag King and Drag Queen of the race as well as the best drag ensembles and most money raised.

This year it has a Latin Fiesta theme.

But Que Pasa? Uneasy lies the wig that wears the crown.

For this Saturday, the 10th August, the Rose & Crown are holding a rival Street Party – with, among cabaret acts, music, food and drink, their own drag race. Calling itself ‘the original drag race’, this one is officially named for Michael Joyce, the founder of Greenwich’s alternative marathon, who died in a car accident four years ago.

Less ‘blood on the carpet’, more ‘beer on the sequins.’

What’s a drag queen or king to do? There’s only one thing, really…

Both.

Why not – they’re both for charities worth supporting (Metro Centre and Help for Heroes), both look like great fun and both important parts of Greenwich life. There’s no point knocking heads together here, this is the kind of storm in a D-cup that will sort itself out in time, and in the meanwhile, there’s twice the fun to be had for the rest of us.

See you Saturday…and on the 14th Sept.


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16 Comments to “In, Out, In, Out…”

  1. tintinhaddock says:

    As a neighbour I’ve found The Prince to be uninclusive and unfriendly. I’ll be going along and supporting the original race on Saturday at the Rose and then a late drink afterwards at the George and Dragon.

  2. Fatty Fatty BumBum says:

    The Prince is a dump in my opinion. Regardless of what way you swing, the awful strings of electric-blue Christmas lights combined with the flat screen TVs showing the likes of Nicki Minaj on MTV are a bit like a 15 year old girls bedroom….in the 90s. Have the owners never been to Brighton to see how a gay pub should be run?

  3. Brad says:

    I agree with the posts above – I went to the Prince in a mixed group of men and women and was made to feel very unwelcome, they didn’t seem to like women going there!

  4. LadyJanet says:

    What a load of twaddle! The Prince is fine! Have been a regular since it ‘went gay’.

  5. Chris says:

    I agree too. I’ve tried the Prince several times and always found it lacking in atmosphere or charm, it just seems soulless. I’m glad the R&C is back ‘out’

  6. JR says:

    Hmm. In their defence I’ve been to the Prince with a galpal a few times and she was made to feel very welcome.
    As you say, healthy competition can’t be a bad thing – although I think it’s a shame they’re both gunning for the Drag Race crowd. Some originality wouldn’t go amiss.

  7. Paul says:

    I actually disagree with the comments above. I use The Prince all the time and I feel always welcome. The staff and management are always friendly. The pub is clean and beautifully decorated. The food and drinks are reasonable priced unlike the Rose & Crown. I don’t drink at The Rose & Crown anymore, before The Olympics I was told that gays were not welcome there anymore, I found it rude and disrespectful after I spent my money in there for years. I can’t believe people have forgot this and keep giving them their money after we all have been treated like that. Michael Joey who started Drag Race always supported The Metro Centre I can’t believe his name has been used in ‘The Greenwich Street Party’ bless his heart. I find this pathetic and disrespectful once again.

  8. Paul says:

    Just some clarification to the other Paul that posted above. Michael JOYCE started the Drag Race (not Michael Joey), and as someone who knew him relatively well, I can assure you he would be honoured and excited to have his name ‘in lights’. The Rose and Crown was not only a place of work for Michael, but a significant part of his life.

    In any other circumstances, I would agree with you that when a pub so clearly wants to get rid of its gay customers, and then changes its mind when they fail as a straight pub, it should probably be shunned by gay people. However, given how appalling the alternative is (i.e. The Price of Greenwich), I for one was happy to see the Rose and Crown going back to being a gay friendly pub!

  9. Simon says:

    I use The Prince regularly and I think is a lovely friendly pub.

  10. Jonny says:

    Hadn’t realised the Rose was “all-friendly” again, but it’s good news- Thanks for the post Phant! R&C do need to rebuild bridges and it wont be easy, but we all make mistakes and its nice to be wanted, so i’ll forgive this. We all have our preferences. For me it’s about choice- if you don’t like somewhere, go somewhere else, and now we can. Agree with Paul(2) that whilst I knew Michael Joyce for a short time, I’m glad I did. He made me feel so welcome when I came to Greenwich. If I learnt anything it’s that he’d be about fun and inclusivity, not bickering about the best bar… Oh, and of course, to live life to the full cos we don’t know when our time will come. I’ll support both (charity) events- and hope in time a divided community heals.

  11. P&D says:

    Michael Joyce DID NOT start the Drag Race. It was Nathan, the landlord from the Rose and Crown who had the initial idea and approached The Metro Centre. He never intended The MC to retain the event and wanted to spread the sponsorship around with the likes of THT but somehow The MC kept hold of the event.

    I don’t know who Michael Joyce is but he certainly didn’t instigate this event as I sat down with Nathan and we kicked off the whole event at the bar in R&C.

  12. Simon says:

    So, P&D am I right by saying that we all have been betrayed by The Rose & Crown and The George & Dragon using ‘featuring The Michael Joyce Charity Drag Race’ in advertising The Greenwich Street Party as a way to get more money in their tills?
    Considering that when they started to advertise The Greenwich Street Party they didn’t have a charity to donate money to and only after they had been questioned by local drinkers who wanted to donate money to The Michael Joyce Charity, which doesnt exsists, they chosen Help For Heroes.

  13. Rob says:

    Why on hearth two LGBT venues are trying to boycott the biggest fund raising event of the year of our local LGBT charity? This is crazy!!!

  14. Peter says:

    Why on hearth two LGBT venues are trying to boycott the biggest fund raising of the year of our local LGBT charity The Metro Centre?

  15. P&D says:

    I don’t do politics.

    I know what I know and the event was started by Nathan who invited The Metro Centre to participate. Hence why The Rose was the focal point.

    I just wanted the facts to be straight. If it raises money for ANY good cause, then so be it but lets not muddy the waters as to the who and why it all got going.

    Thank you.

  16. This is a message from Shaun, who asked me to put it up for him, since comments are now officially closed (due to spam restrictions…)

    I had the great honour to work with, be best friends with and live with Michael for a number of years prior to his passing. I recall one day Nathan, Michael and myself sitting in the Rose and Crown thinking up a new show to generate some more custom and raise some money for charity. The idea of a Grease show was discussed and from that the idea of a race through the streets of Greenwich town centre in drag was proposed by Michael, something he’d seen done in Australia before.

    Michael, myself and a number of team members at the Rose and Crown carried out the show and invited anyone else to join in the race. Metro centre were indeed the chosen charity but had very little to do with the organisation of the event in the first year, aside from collecting money in buckets.

    Michael would have been honoured and privileged to have the Drag Race back at its rightful home (The Rose and Crown) and named after him.

    I attended the 2013 race back at the Rose and wow! What a great job done by all, an absolute tribute to our dear Michael outside the place he lived, loved and more importantly called Home.