The Joiners Arms is a dingy gay bar on Hackney Road. Existing behind doors made of abattoir-style strips of transparent plastic, it serves cheap drinks and plays thumping pop playlists to men and women – and everything between. But maybe not for much longer. According to the Joiners Arms, ‘The Metropolitan Police have requested the Licensing Authority review the Licence of The Joiners Arms.’ With proposed new trading hours finishing up at 12.30am every night – instead of the current late hours – if accepted, they say that the Joiners ‘will not be financially viable.’
And then, most likely, it’ll be bought up to turn into a pub with some sort of burger/hotdog/milkshake theme, or, even worse, a strip club. It’s a great injustice that, while east London clubs such as The Dolphin, Plastic People, 93 Feet East and now the Joiners have been subject to licence reviews, east London’s strip clubs, where sexual harassment can spill onto the street into the way of any women simply daring to walk by, have had no similar threat to their existence. But of course, you can’t get a crime reference number for catcalls.
This summer, after an all-day festival in Haggerston Park, which was brimming with plate-eyed Joey Essexes and women in bum-floss shorts, I found refuge at the Joiners, and saw it before peak time. Men in wigs and bumless jeans could stroll about without an eyelash fluttered, and a conservative, mixed-race lesbian couple could enjoy a stealthy date. It’s not just home to raucous fun, or a receptacle of regretful nights out. It’s a place where gay people can go and just be. And you can’t have too many of those. Sophie Wilkinson
So, to save the Joiners, you can either go along to the bar to sign the petition, or write a letter in its favour, to:
London Borough of Tower Hamlets
6th Floor Mulberry Place
5 Clove Crescent
London E14 2BG