10: Club Louise
61 Poland Street
But where are all the lesbians? Well, it’s a good question. We know that as early as 1887 there was a club in London called La Cauchoise.
And the 1930s saw the opening of The Gateways off Chelsea’s Kings Road, which became the longest running lesbian nightclub of the 20th century. Which is pretty epic.
But what about lesbians in Soho? There’s a remarkable quietness which may be more to do with a lack of documentation rather than existence. Time will tell. But for now we know that one of the first lesbian clubs in Soho started here in 1973, behind a red painted door.
The manager was Madame Louise, a chic, older French woman in a black dress and diamond jewellery, grey waved hair, heavy eyeliner and a grey fur coat if the weather was cold. Not everyone was allowed in.
'Are you members?' she would lisp, and if she liked the look of you, 'Ah, you must become members.'
Down the stairs was a small dance floor surrounded by low tables and mirrors on the walls. In 1976 the club became an early punk hangout as it was one of the few places where punks could go without being hassled. The so-called Bromley Contingent were regulars, including Siouxsie Sioux, members of The Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Slits.