“I used to be a 30 inch waist when younger,” bristles Ames with emotion. “I could
stop the traffic and get into any club in London. That doesn’t last for ever.
This is about not growing older whilst still trying to look and act sixteen.
We all know some sad old fifty year old dressed in Versace’s latest with their
hair gelled and dyed to death and looking a bit of an issue.”
“And I do have a problem,” he expands, “when I go into some gay place and there’s
some arsehole trying their hardest to look like they’re Mister Mean Man, scowling
at you and thinking they’re sexy! You do get younger guys and foreigners who walk
in with an attitude but the whole club has such a buzzy, happy, friendly feel, they
soon lose it. Being a bear is about coming to terms with who and what you are. I
wouldn’t call it spiritual - it’s nothing that deep - but it’s about broadening us
as gay people and stopping us being so self-judgmental.”
The following statements are largely FALSE!
They’re all hung like horses
They’re all butch and work on building sites
They’re all fat, ugly bastards
They’re all either into SM in leather or line-dancing in check shirts
They’re all clones or come from outer space
They only fancy each other’s tubby, furry frames
They’re all older gay guys smiling wistfully up at some lame drag act, raising money for charity
It’s all just a fetish
Older, means been around a bit, means got HIV
Older, means still here, means not got HIV, means must be a safe fuck
The bear movement may have begun in America; but it has remained a scattered scene
of small bars and very few clubs stateside. London is now widely considered the
bear capital of the world; and where bears prowl - like London, Brighton and Birmingham -
others tend to follow.
“When I started all this,” Ames grunts, “everyone - gay media and bear community - told
me it’d never work. But people grow up. More and more guys are becoming bears every
day. And bears were so un-trendy that they’re now becoming cool.
That's borne out by the ever increasing number of bear nights that are now being staged
throughout the UK, but in particular in London. As Mark says,
"Bears may have been taking a nap, but now they're back and ready to growl again!".
THE BEAR FACTS - LONDON'S BEST BEAR VENUES
Eagle London (349 Kennington Lane, SE11 5QY; T: +44 20 7793 0903; Website)
A well liked leather pub and a bear venue which holds Horse Meat Discos on Sundays and many other events popular with the bear crowd.
Electrowerkz (7 Torrens St, EC1V 1NQ; T: +44 20 3976 6669; Website)
Electrowerkz is an old tube carriage and cobblestone courtyard in a spacious warehouse where they hold club nights and live acts.
Roast is their club for Bears, cubs, chubs, chasers, muscle bears, trans men, muscle men, and admirers.
They have DJ's, 5 rooms, 1 big darkroom and it's strictly Men only.
Kings Arms London (23 Poland St, W1F 8QJ; T: +44 20 7734 5907; Website)
Soho's oldest gay bar. As firm favourite to the Bear community over the years, they affectionately call them 'The KA', and refer to them as 'London's Favourite Bear Bar'.
At weekends they have Guest & Resident DJ's playing disco, house and electro beats - not forgetting their Legendary Bearaoke which has been going for over 25 years!
There's also Beers, Bears and Beats on Fridays and Saturdays and Big Bear Quiz event Tuesdays, that's £3 per player to play with a maximum of 6 in a team!
London Bears Movie Club Website)
The London Bears Movie Club are a group of bears and their admirers who meet up in Central London to see a movie or a play together, usually once a month
and often on a Saturday. Some months they may have more than one event and other months they may have no events, it all depends on what's on.
Visiting bears from all over the world are, of course, more than welcome to join in.
MA1: The Bunker (217-221 City Rd, EC1V 1JN; Website)
Bearbait first Thursday of each month 6pm-10pm
If you're into lads or men into bears/cubs, Dilfs, Dads-n-Lads, blokes, geezers, men with beards or fuzz plus
those hunky Silver Foxes this is the night for you! Entry is £10.00 which includes the coatcheck.
No dresscode but feel free to make the effort or just get your kit off! Men Only/18+
Save £1.00 per visit by paying cash!
Royal Vauxhall Tavern (372 Kennington Lane, SE11 5HY; T: +44 20 7820 1222; Website)
Beefmince has been attracting hundreds of bears, cubs and everything in between and has fast become one of The RVT's biggest and most loved club nights.
Expect a welcoming crowd full of hotties, beards, cubs, bears, chubs and ALL lovers of a good party, regardless of age, gender and sexuality!
Beefmince champions an 'everyone welcome' policy as part of their Mince Mission that creates an attitude-free atmosphere.
The Lord Clyde (9 Wotton Rd, SE8 5TQ; T: +44 7306 882555; Website)
Come2Daddy is held on Thursdays 9pm-1am, Tickets £7.
Bears Social is a monthly event for the big and hairy at this South London cruise bar for bears to chill out at, in discrete dark corners.
Sailors Sauna (570-574 Commercial Rd, E14 7JD; T: +44 20 7791 2808; Website)
Sailors is a male only spa and sauna close to Limehouse DLR station. They hold an event called Big and Cuddly every Monday
which attracts Bears and their admirers.
Information as at June 2023.