The Way Out Club is one of the longest-running, top-rated trans parties in the world. So when they announced that they were moving, we reached out to its co-founder/hostess Vicky Lee to get you the inside scoop.
Hi Vicky, what was the reason to move - after all Way Out has been at Charlie’s for a long time?
The WayOut Club moved 7 times in its first 5 years until we moved to the City of London (financial district) where we have worked with the same management and even the same bar staff for 14 years. I knew that Charlie's was suffering from weekday licensing pressures and competition from street level bars / restaurants / nightclubs that have sprung up in the area over those 14 years. I was preparing to move WayOut to Abbey in early 2013, but the sudden loss of Charlie's license was a shock to us all. The fact that the police, and license authorities helped WayOut to secure dates for every Saturday, and the fact that all the local venues were so generous and helpful, is a credit to everyone who has visited the club here in the City of London over the years building a good reputation for the club.
There are lots of things to take into consideration when moving to a new place –it must have been a tough decision - What are the main benefits to the new venues?
Location Location Location - despite steady growth in this area in the city has loads of free parking and excellent public transport links in what is a still a discreet quite area. AS basically the financial district shuts down at weekends. There are still many visitors to our club who would think twice about traveling to London's city central venues where parking is ridiculous and a walk through crowded streets still a brave thing to attempt.
I hear that will be 2 venues in use as the Way Out till the new year, why is that?
Because we were given just 3 weeks notice in June of corse when we asked for EVERY saturday at any one venue they all had commitments to previous bookings. Finally I managed to get a set of dates that meant we only had two venues to negotiate.
Will it be difficult to manage the club on 2 sites?
I would have much preferred to have been in one venue, but we have set up two sets of everything to manage easy set ups at each venue. As the venues are only 2mins from each other (and our old venue) hopefully our visitors will check our web site www.thewayoutclub.com before setting off and at worse they will be redirected on a 2min walk. This only continues till the new year when we will be at Abbey every Saturday.
Charlie’s was a large venue and had a lot of space, how many people are able to visit the venues?
At Charlie's we had an average of 250 -- sometimes as many as 300 people. But at 2AD on the first night we had 250 and it was intimate, but comfortable. Abbey holds 500 on two floors but we will be shutting off some areas to ensure a comfortable intimacy. At Abbey it will be easy to move about and to see what everyone is wearing. There are many great big mirrors and a grand staircase which will be a joy to watch.
Can you give us an over view of what are the new venues are like?
WayOut @ 2AD offers all the facilities we are used to. It has many quirky corners, which provide amazing backdrops and furniture for those impromptu photo shoots that our visitors love. The venue even has a genuine section of exposed Roman wall running along behind the bar (hence the name 2AD )". This venue is very intimate and buzzy. The limit in space means that our shows here will be restricted to singing shows
I am REALLY looking forward to welcoming visitors to WayOut @ Abbey. as it is a stunning venue, larger (it can hold 500 people),
It is directly opposite the very TG friendly and popular Chamberlain Hotel. Abbey has a large street level reception bar, with changing area, and a variety of contemporary spaces to relax and chat. Then there is that glamorous staircase, with balcony, to view the double height dance floor and bar, where our DJs Titch and Gary will mix up the dance music and where you can enjoy our shows. The generous space and layout will allow us to stage any kind of show we can dream up and you can bet we will.
I read on the Way Out Website that there will be changing rooms available, is this going to be at both venues?
At 2AD we are limited for changing to the ladies powder room (ok toilet). It does have a great mirror set up and Glory will give you a puff of perfume for a small tip. At Abbey we have a specific area for changing, close to reception, Where Giles (Miss Sarah Lloyd) is close at hand to pop in and help with zips, hair and make-up.
Are there storage facilities as well?
Both venues have a fully secure cloakroom to store bags and coats.
So over the years there have been a lot of changes to the TG scene, what have been the biggest changes that you have seen in the club?
The biggest change is that WayOut is now the only transgender club in London where sex is not permitted on the premesis. Apart from 'Trannyshack' which is a mainstream fashionista club, all the other places offering a welcome to TGs allow all kinds of sex in public. Our aim is that on a first visit (especially if accompanied by a friend, wife, partner) that the experience is pleasant, relaxed while being exciting but not TOO exciting. If thats what you want we say "go get a room".
The second big change is that the "men" that come to the club are now younger, better groomed, more confident, can chat and get to know each other and know better how to socialise. They are no longer secret admirers hiding in corners still in their overcoats. They are now regular friends who are as much part of the transgender scene as the "girls" they like to be around.
What direction can you see the new venue taking the club?
I hope at Abbey in a more glamourous venue, offering more space, we can increase the number of gay people who will come and enjoy our very special non-judgemental atmosphere, our shows and also learn a little more about the 'T' in LGBT. I also hope that our TG girls will grow to feel proud to bring more and more friends and family. Its all about keeping the balance
Will it become more than a weekend venue?
No in the past with Steffan we have tried every night of the week and only Saturday ever worked. We will do what we do best - The best TG Saturday.
The Way Out has always produced some fabulous shows to entertain the club goers – so what kind of shows have you got lined up for the future?
At Abbey we have room to do many kinds of show. We have invested in more radio mics and a new lighting system and 160sqft of stage that we can make into many different shapes. The space has more of a stadium feel rather than a theatre feel. We will be introducing winners and outstanding performers from the gay scenes 'Drag Idol' contest. But as we are surrounded by such great TG talent you can be sure that our escalator (guest spot to show to headliner) will remain a feature of WayOut in our new venue
The WayOut Club
Londons' (and maybe the worlds) best nightclub for T-Girls and respectful friends.
Mix, mingle, dance, dine - different show every week - every Saturday
Look for upcoming WayOut Club events under Parties in our calendar of events.