The Joiners Arms Before the Lights Went Out (…temporarily!)
The Joiners Arms was established as an LGBTQ+ pub in 1997, when the late David Pollard became the new landlord for the venue on Hackney Road in the East End. David Pollard, alongside manager Giuliano Pistoni, ensured that the Joiners Arms was quickly established as a space for many of London’s LGBTQ+ revellers to meet, debate, dance and flirt the night away. As David said, it was a place that promoted ‘Life, Love and Liberty’ amidst its four frollocking walls.
Heralded as ‘one of London’s most anarchic LGBT venues’, the pub held infamous nights that welcomed a breadth of people from all walks of life, whilst acting as a hive of political activity, hosting discussions, exhibitions and fundraisers that supported and raised key concerns for the local queer community. Famed for being one of the first pubs to enstate the London Living Wage for all its staff, the Joiners aimed to treat everyone the same, and to create a space where people felt welcome, safe and liberated.
Hear about the spirit of the Joiners Arms from the words of the community, and those that made it tick:
“The Joiners for me.. it was something really unique …I didn’t walk into every queer space in London and feel the same liberation as what I did in the Joiners. … There was something particular about the Joiners … for me personally the freedom I felt there I guess as an individual…”
Amy Roberts, co-chair of Friends of the Joiners Arms, 13th February, 2018. An excerpt from the FOTJA in Conversation at the UCL Urban Laboratory ‘Queer Salon at the Museum of London’.
“To some, it was an iconic institution with a history and legacy too important to lose. To others, it was a safe place to hang out and unwind with your mates. Perhaps those two things, that ability to be both at the same time, was probably the really special and ultimately unique thing about it,”
Dwayne Clarke, activist for Friends of the Joiners Arms, 6th April, 2018. In Into More.
“My great pleasure in running the Joiners is when there’s lots of people enjoying themselves, you look at the mixture of people – all ages and everything – and it’s an incredible feeling. We’re unique. The variety of people there, you think: ‘Their grandparents probably tried to shoot each other. And here they are trying to fuck each other!”
David Pollard, the late landlord of the Joiners Arms, 6th November 2014. In Dazed.
“If you want to enjoy yourself, come in. But we don’t want to know how important you are. Are you interesting to talk to? Are you a good shag? Can you dance? These are the questions we’re interested in as a pub. I can’t dance, by the way. But I know that it’s a very important factor. It has to be an environment that allows dancing because all this is about the joy of sin, which is why the church suppresses everything, of course. So here’s to Dionysus.”
David Pollard, the late landlord of the Joiners Arms, 6th November 2014. In I-D.
“The Joiners’ was a social space that symbolized a decade of gay counter-culture which felt at joyful war with gay assimilation…It represented a little assault against Civil Partnerships, gaybies, It Gets Better, Lady Gaga and Glee.You need that tension when social and political change is moving at such a swift pace.”
Paul Flynn, writer local resident and patron of the Joiners Arms, 4th November 2014. In Vice.
Sadly, in March 2018 David Pollard passed away. However, we will strive to maintain David’s legacy of ‘Life, Love and Liberty’ by providing London’s queer community with a space for those increasingly pushed to its margins in the vicious pursuit of profit at the expense of others.