Bringing Sexy London Back
London's libido, the fight for kink spaces... and cock shots
It wasn’t that long ago that we were all being told that the young people of London weren’t all that into sex anymore.
Terms like ‘volcels’ and ‘sexual recession’ were being used to describe Gen-Z’s happy abstainers, and the phrase ‘celibacy TikTok’ was a thing that actual people said.
Just over a year ago, Vice conducted an informal survey of a group of 16 to 24-year-old Londoners and found that sex was going the same way as booze; losing its “glamour in excess” image because there was now “something very respectable in saying no, whether for more personal or bigger reasons like growth or spirituality.”
But something changed in the last 12 months, and it’s not just the end of lockdown.
London seems to be extremely horny all of a sudden.
Earlier this year an online drinks company (?) conducted a ‘study’ to find the ‘most seductive’ cities in the world (defined as those that “radiate sexual energy, serve up sensual menus and allow you to indulge in your deepest, darkest desires”).
London romped home with the title (excuse the pun).
Thanks to our abundant number of strip clubs, sex parties, “people having affairs” and, erm… “number of restaurants that sell oysters.” we easily beat off (that one was on purpose) cities like Las Vegas, Paris and Berlin.
During London Fashion Week in February RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Violet Chachki walked down the runway dressed in a latex bodysuit holding a leash with a man tied to the other end (above), and people started talking about ‘fetishcore’ entering the mainstream. As Dazed pointed out a few weeks ago, “even ASOS and H&M sell (faux) leather harnesses” now.
At the end of June, Emma Loffhagen wrote a piece for the Standard declaring this the ‘polyamorous girl summer’ due to the fact that “more and more of my outwardly strait-laced friends in relationships with their university sweethearts are spending their weekends in East London up to their necks in leather.”
And last week Vogue made it official by speaking to “75 Gen Z men, women and non-binary people based in London” and discovering that most of them were “baffled” by the idea of a ‘sex drought’.
Only two of the people Vogue spoke to were celibate out of choice, while another two just weren’t getting much right now. For the rest, “casual sex was on the cards for the vast majority on a weekly basis, with some of them going on up to three dates a week and having up to five different sexual partners a month.”
App and tickle?
You might assume that all this knocking of boots was down to the popularity of dating apps. After all, the Standard recently proclaimed that Feeld was singularly behind a fully-fledged ‘sexual revolution’ in London.
Not true, says Vogue. According to them, “Gen Z appears to be breaking up with” apps and while Feeld “used to be kinky and interesting,” it’s now “gotten boring” (OMG Evening Standard, you are soooo six months ago!).
According to Vogue, it’s all about meeting people IRL, whether that’s the “old-fashioned ways” like being matched up by a friend, or meeting someone in the pub… Or you could just bypass all the niceties and go to a sex party.
The rise in popularity of ‘sex-positive parties’ like Crossbreed, Pinky Promise and The Fox Den is no secret. So much so that Time Out recently published an article headlined The not-so-secret new wave of London’s sex-positive parties and even the Spectator was warning of ‘sex party bores’.
But Vogue argues that these kinds of events have pulled in a younger and more diverse crowd thanks to their focus on “inclusivity, consent and safety”.
The only problem with these parties is that Tower Hamlets council seemed intent on closing down most of them. Back in March we told you about how the council had been contacting organisers of Klub Verboten and Crossbreed declaring their intention to “prohibit nudity and semi-nudity” in venues across the borough. They also threatened venue owners with legal action if they hosted the events.
The good news is that, following a protest at Tower Hamlets Town Hall last month (the only council meeting we really wish we'd been at), the council has decided to remove its nudity-restricting licensing conditions from the Wapping club E1.
Huck magazine has a great write up of the protest and the issues surrounding it (along with some excellent portraits of some of the protestors).
Coming up on Wednesday 🌳
This week sees the start of another new, regular column. In Tales from the Urban Forest writer Paul Wood focuses on the city’s unregarded landmarks, the wild inhabitants who may have occupied the city for hundreds of years, the people, policies and ideas that have influenced the environment, and the precarious entanglement of humans and nature in this ever-evolving city.
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Trigger warning: This article contains the word 'gashtrays’
Remember when that nude pop up restaurant opened up in London a few years ago? It got decent reviews, but there was no air conditioning or ventilation and it ended up closing early (thank God they didn’t try it this summer).
Anyway, now there’s a new Naked restaurant in town, but thankfully this one doesn’t require any disrobing.
Naked Soho opened at the end of June, billing itself as ‘London’s first sex-themed restaurant’.. and then it promptly closed again because someone complained to the council about the ‘body-positive tableware’ (yep, someone in Soho got offended by anatomical ceramics - Soho has definitely changed!).
After a quick break to frost up the windows, the restaurant reopened a couple of weeks ago, with its “vulva plates, penis bowls and genital sharing platters” on full display (the tableware was designed by the artist Hani Lees Dresner who runs a company called Gashtrays).
The first reviews for the erotic-themed restaurant have now started coming in. Over on The Fork one satisfied customer declares “Never have I been fed a waffle willy but I suppose there is a first time for everything,” before demanding that “You have got to do the cock shots”.
Meanwhile The Standard sent two reviewers to nibble on the “willy-shaped toast” and they found it “juvenile” and “not creepy” but definitely not “sexy”, either. The staff are nice though and apparently the music is pretty good.
5 little bits
The Met has been told by prosecutors to drop its action against people for attending the Sarah Everard vigil. According to reports the Crown Prosecution Service has told lawyers that it is discontinuing attempts to prosecute six people because “it was not in the public interest”.
We’ve covered the alleged terrible working conditions at London’s TikTok HQ before, but it seems that the issue is only getting worse. Last week the FT reported that the company had compiled a “kill list” of employees that it “wanted to force out of its London office”. According to the FT’s insider, there were at least a dozen names on the list and “in some cases, replacements were hired while people on the list were still in their role.” Ouch. (Non-paywalled report here).
O2 has offered up some new data on the amount of commuters coming in and out of the City. Apparently commuter volumes in the City have almost doubled since July last year, but they’re still 27% down on pre-pandemic levels. The only days when the numbers match pre-pandemic levels are Wednesdays and Thursdays.
It looks like we’re going to get some rain next week, but don’t get too excited, the “really short periods of massive rain” could result in flash floods because the ground is too try to absorb any of it.
It’s Nice That has featured the work of artist Lottie Cassidy, whose latest series, London Heatwave, documents London’s local parks, lidos, beer gardens “and air-conditioned corner shops”.