11: Trident Studios


17 St Anne's Court

In 1972, Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side was on the BBC Radio 1 playlist and transsexuality, drugs, male prostitution and oral sex were all over the airwaves before the corporation’s censors had a chance to say Wait, What? After almost a decade of dancing in basements, Queer lives were suddenly propelled into the mainstream.

Lou Reed’s sexually ambiguous album Transformer was recorded here at Trident Studios and produced by the gender-bending David Bowie. Bowie recorded many of his own albums here, as did Elton John, Queen and Marc Bolan.

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In the same year, London-based newspaper Gay News was launched and on 1 July more than 2,000 people marched for the first UK Gay Pride. Peter Tatchell remembers many were frightened to attend:

We got mixed reactions from the public – some hostility but predominantly curiosity and bewilderment.

In the basement of the now demolished London Astoria on Charing Cross Road (thanks Crossrail), 1976 saw the start of a Monday night event called Bang! – London’s first gay super club. You may have already heard of it - in the 1990s the night’s name was changed to G-A-Y.

If this sounds like fun, you still had to make sure you behaved.

NME’s Guide to London’s Gay Scene in early 1978 carried this warning: a note to all you guys 'n' gals, cuties 'n' chickens, rent boys 'n' muscle men, leather lovers 'n' sock eaters: REMEMBER British Law permits homosexual activity in PRIVATE between two consenting adults of 21 and over. Any sexual contact in public is forbidden.