Central Station is an unassuming pub, down a side street in King’s Cross. After work it welcomes the office-crowd, with its friendly atmosphere and free pool. After dark the blackout blinds come down, and the burlesque cabaret dancers step out. The basement houses a fetish club that Duncan Irvine – co-owner and manager – is too polite to talk about. The pub has been the meeting place for a multitude of LGBT groups since the early 1990s, ranging from the gay-mini-owners group, to the gay-star trek fan club, right through to men only ‘spankz’ nights (does what is says on the tin). The overwhelming impression we got from Central Station, from the moment we stepped though its doors, was one of radical inclusivity and acceptance.
When we sat down and talked to Duncan, he told us about Central Station’s history in the area: the night a group of Skinheads attempted to attack the pub in 1992, how the clientele rallied together in defence, and what happened when the staff held a birthday party in honour of the Queen Mother’s birthday in 2000.
Listen to Duncan’s story in his own words below, and for insights into another gay institution in the area, check out Jim MacSweeny talking about Gay’s The Word Bookshop