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I will try and provide a few tips and details here of where to discover or avoid alternate 'scenes' and explore or avoid less-advertised districts, clubs, and places which fall under the catch-all phrase of 'Secret London.'
Perhaps all cities have red light areas. Prostitution in London is illegal as is 'kerb-crawling' (the act of driving slowly through known prostitution areas looking at people on the sidewalk or pavement). Police in London actively patrol key spots in and around the city in places like Kings Cross Station, Shepherds Bush, Bedford Hill between Balham and Streatham, in a bid to deter people from procuring prostitution services. Some roads in these areas are no-go areas at certain times during the evenings to try and eliminate the nuisance caused to residents.
Phone boxes in the heart of London are a breeding ground for 'business cards' offering 'services' - with agents depositing them as fast as they are removed by the authorities. While 99.99% of London witness none of the apparent details of prostitution activities, .01 % finds it concentrated and very visible. You just have to be unlucky to encounter these activities (or go actively looking for certain areas to come across such things).
The Soho region of London was once well known as the Sex industry centre of London. This reached such a climax (excuse the pun) by the end of the 1960s that a massive clampdown was intiated by the authorities in the 70's. Today, Soho is a vibrant, colorful area - a 24 hour zone cruised by a wide ranging mix of people including a thriving gay community along the bars and shops of Old Compton Street.
Here is a small list of bars and pubs or cafes open to the gay and lesbian community in London. There are a lot more than listed:-
79 Charring Cross Road. W1. (more male)
4 Carlisle Street. W1. (more female)
11 Soho Square. W1. (4 floors)
52 St. Giles Street. WC2. (First Gay and Lesbian vegetarian restaurant)
60-66 Wardour Street
10 Adelaide Street. WC2 (more male)
57 Rupert Street. W1.
Ace of Clubs
52 Picadilly. W1. (Women only!)
The End. 16A West Central Street. WC1. (hard-core gay and lesbian)
The Arches, Villiers Street.. WC2, (mixed: straight, gay, lesbian, lots of out-of-towners).
Best known and longest running - very successful!
Royal Vauxhall Tavern, Kennington Lane, SW8. (Five minutes walk from Vauxhall Tube)
For all communities, for entertainment to fit all preferences and for a definitive guide to the London night-life scene, we recommend that on your arrival to London, you head for the nearest book shop and purchase the ; TIME OUT GUIDE - LONDON. Published by Penguin and costing 9.99 UK pounds, this book has everything you need to find your way around everything London - from the traditional to the exotic!
No we don't get paid by Time Out but its a great book! ISBN 0-14-025976-7.
Time Out also produce a weekly magazine worth a buy.
In London and in Anguish
London supports a local population of 8.5 to 10.00 million people. As a capital city where people population is high - it suffers too from the same social and health problems that weave their ill and misery into all world societies. But wherever their is pain and anguish - there is always good people to come forward and accept a responsible and caring role to try and help/support another human-being. The following list of groups and help lines is far from exhaustive but offer free and confidential help. Many are not 24 hrs - some are!
If you need help - do not give up because 1 phone call failed due to wrong hours or busy lines. if you are in London and find yourself in misery or anguish - please contact one of these groups for help. If you don't know where togo first - ring the Samaritans (listed below). London or any place can suddenly become a frightening place because ones circumstances can sudenly go wrong or bad. In a city of 10 million people - be assured their are hearts, minds, and energy equal to the need for help.
HELPLINE TELEPHONE NUMBERS - all are confidential services
Emergency Services: 999 free calls -
any phone box - for police, fire, medical, accident
London Rape Crisis Centre : 0171 837 1600 (for confidential rape counselling)
London Women's Aid: 0171 392 2092 (for women subjected to domestic violence)
Samaritans: 0171 734 2800 (for people with urgent emotional problems)
Victim Support: 0171 735 9166 (for victims of crime)
Narcotics Anonymous: 0171 730 0009 (for drug addicted people)
Alcoholics Anonymous: 0171 352 3001 (for alcoholics)
Gamblers Anonymous: 0171 384 3040 (for obsessive gamblers)
Terence Higgins Trust: 0171 831 0330 (HIV/AIDS victims and their loved ones and friends)
Childline: 0800 1111 or 0171 239 1000 (for children & young people in trouble or danger)
Rape & Sexual Abuse Centre: 0181 239 1122 (support and advice)
Just Ask: 0171 628 3380 (mostly for homeless and under 35 year olds but will help most people with a personal problem)
AIDS Helpline: 0800 567 123 (For AIDS victims - 10 languages)
Amnesty International UK : 0171 814 6200 (advice for people seeking aslyum)
Release : 0171 729 9904 or 0171 603 8654 after hours (free legal advice for anyone arrested by police)
MIND : 0181 519 2122 info line (mental health charity - advises on sectioning or maltreatement of mentally ill)
If you find any of these numbers are wrong or
have changed - please email us!