It was only a short walk from the tube station to the front entrance of the club; but torrential rain ensured I was soaked to the bone. The queue wasn’t that long as I had made sure to arrive early. Doing so would give me enough time to map the place out and get comfortable. But not too early, as no one wants to be the guy stood alone by the sidelines as ten other guys wander around.
I had already been ID’d for cigarettes at the local Tesco ( I don’t smoke, but I have long ago learned that cigs are good currency at any nightclub, gay or straight ) and even though the bored looking woman at the counter hadn’t batted an eyelid at the male name, I still had the fear that I simply didn’t look male.
And so I stood in the rain, shuffling forward as each man was checked and allowed in. My heart was pounding so hard I swore it was rattling my ribcage. Every single breath was laboured and borderline painful. I was going to be found out. I was going to be turned away.
It was my turn. I gave the security guard what I hoped was winning smile, but I probably looked like I was about to be sick. My hand shook as I handed over my ID and to my surprise… The security guard briefly looked at my ID, glanced at me and then….
He ushered me inside.
I didn’t have time to fully process what had just happened as I was suddenly through the door and it was like walking into a wall of heat. I paid my entrance fee and put my coat in the cloakroom in a haze. The further I walked down the short dark corridor in the direction of loud thumping music, the warmer it got. It took a while for my eyes to adjust, but when they did… Bears… Bears as far as the eye could see.
The main room was a little overwhelming for me. I’ve been in many nightclubs, but this one was just massive. It looked like nothing like any club I’d ever been in before. It was stripped down and raw, whilst still having all the trappings of a modern club. It was clean and well looked after, but it had this sense of… I’m having trouble describing it. It reminded me of the old rock clubs I went to as a teenager. Rough around the edges and not caring about looking fancy. Dark walls and concrete floors and your only real hope of seeing anything more than a foot in front of you is when the strobe lighting came on.
Due to the immense size of the main room, I decided to stay in the Pop and R’n’B room which was much smaller ( in comparison ). I made my way to the bar and was glad of my choice to come a little earlier as I was able to get served in under twenty minutes. Unlike another popular gay club in which you can be waiting for much longer and always end up missing your favourite songs.
There was a little area between the bar and the DJ booth which wasn’t so far away from the action that I’d be a wallflower, but not so close that I’d feel uncomfortable. One thing I noticed straight away that even though there was the usual big groups of friends and couples, there were also quite a few men who had arrived on their own. This instantly put me at ease as when I go out alone I always worry that people are looking at me and judging me for being alone. No one wants to be the lone creepy guy at the club.
It took a couple of drinks ( I took full advantage of the Happy Hour they had on. London drinks prices are horrifying ) but I started to loosen up a bit and began to dance. I started at the edge of the dance-floor, just happily dancing by myself; and as much as I would have loved to be dancing with a cutie, I wasn’t expecting anything. And I certainly did not expect the group of smiling, lovely men to beckon me over and dance with me. There is a part of me that thinks they felt sorry for me as I was obviously on my own. But then again, they weren’t tugging every other lone man there into their group, so I suppose that does help the old pride a little.
Shots happened. Things always get switched up to eleven when shots happen. And before I knew it, I was crushed between two writhing bears whilst the VengaBus pounded out of the surrounding speakers. That is certainly something I will never forget.
What I will also never forget was the, what seemed like, a silent yet universal signal to get naked.
To be fair, it was ridiculously hot in there. Even the walls were sweating. My t-shirt was soaked through, my hair sopping and the rain had evaporated from my jeans but were once again wet and sticking to my legs. Wet, matted leg hair is not a fun experience. Note to self: Wear less next time.
Anyway, where was I… Oh yes. Stripping men.
In something akin to a sexy Mexican wave, shirts were being pulled off left right and centre. One man I’d been dancing with for a while gestured that I should take mine off too; but I politely declined and insisted it was because I was shy. Really I didn’t want people to see my scars. I was having such a good time and I knew that I would get questions about them ( I always do ). I didn’t want to spoil my night.
They seemed to find my explanation cute rather than silly and didn’t try to make me remove my shirt or chastise me for not doing so. By this point with how hot I was and the fact I had hot, sweaty men pressed up against me from every angle, my white t-shirt was almost see through.
My memory gets a little blurry at this point. I remember desperately wanting to kiss someone. Wanting to makeout with reckless abandon in the middle of the dance-floor. And I came so so close to doing so several times but… I chickened out. But even though I didn’t get to smooch anyone, I don’t think I’ve ever felt so sexual and wild. There was just something about the energy of the place that honestly? Made me kinda hard.
Before this post gets far too long and terribly TMI, I shall try and wrap it up now. I will definitely be going to XXL again. It was so much fun and I didn’t feel judged for having gone down there on my own. It may even become my regular Saturday night haunt.
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