Friday, 6 June 2014
Bermondsey Arts Centre, Bermondsey
Cottaging: Joe Orton was a fan. George Michael too, splashed all over the news, busted for waving his Whammer, sent to the slammer and fined $500 when the pretty police observed him 'engaged in a lewd act' in an LA loo. But why any wanker would hang out on the off-chance of servicing Banker Billy's willy in a water closet, before the pinstripe closet heads home to the wife and kids in Croydon (ahem) beats me. Perhaps the idea of being picked up by the fuzz, the smell of industrial strength disinfectant and urine, and being shagged in a stall in sixty seconds flat, free STD included, is too potent a thrill to resist? Deep in the bowels of Bermondsey, these former London lavs can, in future, expect to find me loitering with intent, long into the night. With great drinks and its on-the-money mix of art deco, Gotham City grunge and 50s local authority utilitarian, this film noir bar is unlikely to be a flash in the pan. The venue’s young owner, George Garnier - a St Martin’s fine art grad who now rents affordable work spaces to local artists - originally envisioned the space as a daytime caff/ social hub for his tenants. Research, however, indicated that what today’s budding Basquiat or Banksy most wants is not soup and a sarnie, but a cool place to chill until 2 a.m getting bladdered on recherché rinses: chrysanthemum (£10) and Colias (Stoli, saké and Licor 43) among them. Beers from The Kernel, Picpoul de Pinet (£25), French bubbles, share platters, renegade rock, raw retro soul, and occasional live unplugged sets are perfect for a new generation of underground cottage loafers. The only bummer is, in 2014, to spend a penny here (French 75 and as bog roll thrown in) you'll pay £9. But with drinks as good as half hardy (an El Dorado 8, basil and quince sour), Georgy Boy (Garnier, not Michael) ain't exactly taking the piss.
102A Tower Bridge Road SE1 4TP www.bermondseyartsclub.co.uk
A version of this and my other reviews is at www.squaremeal.co.uk