13 May 2015
There was a time when a cosy drink and a chat and a laugh with some mates were enough on a night out. A warm pub, a welcome sight on cold night. Even a place you could pop in on your own and chat to the bar staff or make new friends. Sometimes in the 90’s when clubs and bars seemed to merge and character gave way to design. Intense conversation disappeared underneath obligatory DJs and our eyes drifted to screens churning out silent music videos and away from our drinking pals.
I’ll not deny some good fun was had but over time the collective bonhomie of a nice pub got misplaced by dressed up city cliques, posing fashionistas and basically those desperately wanting to be part of the right thing at the right time and in their attempt invariably got it wrong. Going to busy bars but avoiding communicating with the very people they wanted to associate with. It didn’t make us lonely, but somewhat disconnected.
It’s widely reported that many local pubs are closing. True, and there is a battle with property developers. But there is also an increase in new freeholder landlords stamping some personality and rejuvenating dying pubs and bringing back a night of good old fashioned drink, chatter, entertainment and music. We opened our own recently, The Glory and I joke about it being an old-fashioned gay theme pub. It’s got sofas and a stage with a tinsel curtain. Good drinks in glasses. We’ve invested in classic bar stools so our regulars can chat with our team on quieter nights. We serve craft beer alongside delicious cocktails such as the ‘Modern Fashion’, a bourbon and Luxardo Maraschino blend, which perfectly sums up our new twist on a traditional idea. It’s part of our character.
When we found the pub we knew it was just the right one in terms of size, the stage and a secret basement disco. It had always been a pub and the building dates back almost 200 years, but it had definitely seen better days. The layout naturally divides into an area for lounging with the couches, chatting in groups on bigger tables and a more cabaret style by the stage. It was a happy accident so you can get involved and outrageous with the ‘drag queens’ onstage or have a quiet natter in a corner. Our biggest compliment is when people come and say, ‘It feels so familiar. It’s like it’s been here all the time’. Well, in a way it has.
When people from a mile away call it their local, you know you’ve done something right. What we have tried to do throughout the business is be true to ourselves and not be swayed by trends. I think that is the key, personality. I stand in the bar on a busy weekend and there is the feeling not that you are not in just another pub, but that everyone has piled back to a brilliant house party. There is a lot to be said for the good old-fashioned night out!
A London based performer, artiste, DJ, host and owner of The Glory in Haggerston, London. Jonny Woo has ruled supreme across the roster of rebellious London nightlife ever since he arrived in Shoreditch in the 1990s. An instrumental, monumental and above all fun figure – Jonny Woo is the elected torchbearer of alternative London’s free thought, cultural expression and right to bear art. With a hurrah-studded CV that is too magnanimous to cherry-pick from, Woo will pour all that he has learnt into his new essential space of his, The Glory.