London Shopfronts is an illustrated love letter to London and the vivacious and diverse independent shops that add colour to the Big Smoke. The book showcases some of the most loved and vibrant LGBTQ+ venues across the capital. From the wonderful Dalston Superstore bedecked with bunting, to Gay’s the Word, the first LGBTQ+ bookshop to open in the UK, to the historic pub and drag venue Admiral Duncan – London Shopfronts celebrates in colour the hidden and known gems which are central to the LGBTQ+ scene, and often make London top the list of best LGBTQ+ destinations in the world. Here are a few iconic Queer spots that we absolutely loved from the book. 


Gay’s The Word 

Founded in 1979 as a not-for-profit run by members of the Gay Icebreakers socialist group, this Bloomsbury landmark was the first specialist LGBTQ+ bookshop to open in the UK, at a time when queer literature was mostly available only by mail order. It soon established itself as a vital community space during the AIDS crisis, despite hostility from neighbouring businesses, several homophobic attacks and a 1984 Customs and Excise raid in which thousands of pounds’ worth of stock was seized and the shop’s directors were charged with conspiracy to import indecent books. Immortalized in the 2014 film Pride, Gay’s The Word was met with an enormous community response in 2017 when it announced that it was facing closure due to rent hikes. With its future secured, the store’s 40th anniversary was commemorated in a special event at the British Library in 2019. 


Dalston Superstore 

© Joel Holland

Founded in 2009 by DJs and club promoters Dan Beaumont and Matt Tucker in an area that is now synonymous with arty young queer people, this east London institution was part of the new wave of scene-shaping LGBTQ+ venues to open on Dalston’s bustling high street in the late noughties, when established gay venues around the city were closing at an alarming rate. Instantly popular with the burgeoning creative communities who were making the neighbourhood their home, its basement ‘laser pit’ has been graced by the likes of Bicep, Honey Dijon and the Blessed Madonna, while the sun-filled upstairs bar operates as a café during the day and plays host to a particularly raucous drag brunch at the weekends. 



© Joel Holland

Promoter Jeremy Joseph opened this Soho gay bar in 2002 after founding his club night of the same name at the since-closed London Astoria 10 years earlier. G-A-Y has since become one of the most recognizable queer nightlife brands on the continent. 


Bethnal Green Mens Working Club 

© Joel Holland

One of several hundred such establishments that existed around the UK at the time of its founding, this traditional working men’s club was created in 1887 as a community space and centre of learning catering to the area’s working- class community. Facing closure due to its dwindling membership, the club threw its doors open to the area’s burgeoning scene of hip young things in 2001. Now known for its offbeat, irreverent, and queer-centric programming that encompasses everything from live bands to burlesque, the club has built a reputation as one of east London’s most treasured nightlife venues and is a go-to for audiences looking for drag shows on the weirder end of the spectrum. Guerrilla street artist Banksy painted one of his most recognized works, Yellow Lines, on the side of the building in 2007. 



London Shopfronts (Prestel Publishing) is illustrated by Joel Holland and written by Rosie Hewitson, with a foreword by Asma Khan. Text and images courtesy of London in Colour which is available to purchase now. 

For further information about how to buy:


Joel Holland

Website: | Instagram: @joelholland_studio

Rosie Hewitson

Website: Rosie Hewitson | Twitter: @ro_hew

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