After being served one too many warm beers at a rival, Crews was born. “Chris” takes us down memory lane.

CREWS: 1990-1998 St Martins Lane, next to Stringfellows

Crews came about after I was served yet another warm beer at the Brief Encounter and the manager asked me what I would do, lose him his job?

I said “no”, far worse. 

From the outside, you could not see the 3000 sq ft inside and the plan was just to be the biggest gay bar in London, not nightclub.

The agents were only interested in it being let as a restaurant until I told them that my cousin was, a renowned architect, and they thought we would spend a fortune on it. However, our plan was to be cheap and cheerful, cruising and carefree so dark blue paint and murals of sailors went up on the walls.

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After a hiccup with early management, the bar became the first to introduce straight forward pricing of £2.50 a pint, the reason being that there was no time to give change, such was the demand.

In addition, free nuts and crisps were offered. Two GoGo dancers would give performances on the bar. Crews became the busiest gay bar in London and was responsible for dragging the gay scene from Earls Court to the West End. 

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The year Crews opened saw the Edge, CXR, Admiral Duncan, G-A-Y Bar and The Village really take off.

Have you got memories of a venue from the past which has now closed? Check out our list of venues at our Lost LGBT Scene Project.

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