There was standing room only this weekend as the two major LGBTQ events in London were rammed to the rafters, amongst their crowds was JONNY WARD a very excited QUEERGUR CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
Estimates for Pride London put attendance at 1.5 million which is up by a whopping 50% on last year.
A few years ago, the “march” bit of the proceedings were open to everybody and anybody and was a rite of passage for a young queer about town. Recently in order to walk the route you have to apply for a wristband in advance for access as part of a group, a workplace or a club. This allows some spectacular floats (balloon arches are particularly in vogue this year). This has however relegated many young LGBTQ+ people into spectator status for those who don’t have a workplace, organisation or club to walk with. Having said that there seems to be no lack of enthusiasm as the route is also lined with tourists and shoppers who willingly screamed their lungs out for the fierce drag queens and anyone else who had made an effort.
Queerguru still had the stamina to skip off towards Soho for the “party” side of the equation which was absolutely rammed – imagine a standing pop concert but stretched around the whole of central London narrow streets and you get the idea. It was disappointing that apart from a couple of tiny stages down side streets there was no music blaring from popups, cafes or restaurants as in previous years, so although busy, it was also strangely lacking in atmosphere.
Black Pride UK however had a much better layout. They moved from Vauxhall Spring Gardens to Haggerston Park in Hackney and they also saw their attendance jump from 6,500 in 2018 to 10,000 this year. Inevitably there were queues to get in, for the bar and for the toilets (as always with outside events) but the whole gig stood up really well with community stalls, Caribbean street food and a varied stage line up culminating with MNEK in a fetching pink suit doing a fantastic set to an appreciative crowd. Rikki Beadle-Blair stole some of the days limelight and threw some great looks and shapes as he introduced the acts. A superb vibe, great food and music for every taste.
If London Pride is the big showy international PR exercise, Black Pride was like the biggest house party you have ever been to. London – you did not disappoint.
REVIEW : JONNY WARD
Jonny Ward, Queerguru Contributing Editor is a drama graduate but has worked backstage for many years at venues such as The Royal Albert Hall, The 02, Southbank Centre and is currently at The National Theatre. He lives in Hoxton, London and is delighted to check out the latest, the hottest and the downright dodgy in queer culture for Queerguru. (P.S. He is currently single) @JonnyWard360