Whitehorse in Shoreditch bids a fond farewell
The legendary White Horse at Shoreditch has been a home to talented dancers, artists, striptease lovers and landladies for nearly thirty-eight years before rocketing rents forced the owners to shut it down.
For us, though, it will always remain much more than a gentleman’s club. Bidding its last farewell, dancers, bar staff and bouncers share with us what this ‘East End boozer’ meant to them – and to London.
“Do you remember the girl who did that thing with the stocking: she put it in her mouth and then pulled it out … somewhere else?” asks former dancer Jo King. “And who was the girl with the snake? I remember she used to clear the pub. And Canadian Linda, who was the most graceful, fairy-like doll … Then there was me, shouting at people if they didn’t put money in the jug!”
It’s Saturday 30th July and White Horse is fully packed for its closing night. Dancers perform on the stage, girls cry and memories rise on the surface as people are bidding their last farewell to what was once the heart of Shoreditch.“ I’m going to miss it terribly,” says Sue Bristow, the pub’s outgoing boss.
It’s Legend’s Night and dancers working here across the decades have come back to pay their final tribute. One has brought in old photos, another woman’s parents have joined the party. In the heat of the night, everyone is doing a conga. But you can still feel the shadow of sadness over a life that has now gone forever and traditional East End boozers now look outplaced like horse-drawn carts.
The dancers are devastated and angry. After all, this was the place where the revolutionary East London Strippers Collective was born-a group of brave, young and outspoken women who dared to fight against taboos and club closures in Tower Hamlets and champion the improvement of working conditions within the industry.
All that enveloped in the comforting family environment of care, love and support, so unusual compared to the traditional competitive environment of such venues, that has allowed the spirit of East London Strippers Collective to flourish.
But, unfortunately, White Horse is among the last of its breed. Nowadays, the level of public nuisance defines the chances for a club to gain a sexual entertainment license. However, in 2010, the local borough hackney imposed a ‘nil limit’ policy declaring that once the venue is sold up, the license is gone forever and no new one will be issued. This decision has been taken despite the high level of objections forming 66% of those who took part in the public consultation.
“Sue’s been pushed out, and we’re all devastated – this is the best place to work in London”, says White Horse dancer and activist Edie Lamort. “There’s a camaraderie here that I haven’t experienced in any other job. Everyone’s well looked after, and there’s a family atmosphere. The rest of the places are cut-throat.”
White Horse’ dancers now have to face a future of uncertainty. Having enjoyed the freedom of a life based on their own rules, many are wondering what they’ll do next in a city getting ever more hostile to their industry. Some already have second jobs; others say it’s going to be a struggle.
‘Shoreditch is dying’: White Horse voices
Sue Bristow, outgoing landlady: “I was six when we first came here; I couldn’t even see out of the windows. I started working behind the bar when I was a teenager and I’ve been running the pub with my mum for the last 13 years. We’ve seen so many changes, been through two recessions. When we gave the news we were closing, everyone was in tears. I wasn’t expecting that. I’ll miss the dancers. It feels like I’ve got loads of adopted daughters here.”
Emilie Bristow, bartender: “I’ve always been here, so I don’t know what it’s going to be like once the place is gone. I’m not sure if I’d have ended up taking over. I wanted to see if I could do something else, like get a job in the City. I’ve got an apprenticeship with an accountancy firm.”
Barbara, singer and door staff: “It’s a shame because a 38-year family business is going. It’s been done to clear the area, but this is what makes Shoreditch. The heart of Shoreditch is going. It’s like Shoreditch is dying.”
Laura Scott, accounts: “I’ve been here since 2009. I’m Sue’s best friend and our daughters are friends. They’re so easy going here; that’s why they’ve put up with me for so long! I have been barred from doing karaoke, though. To be honest, I think it’s out of order they have to close. I get that Shoreditch is up and coming, but they’re losing their home as well as their livelihood.”
Tracy Coleman, singer with Plum Busby and former dancer: “I think the phrase ‘Don’t let your daughter on the stage, Mrs Worthington’ is pertinent to lots of us in here. I’ve performed my entire life. I just used to do it naked and now I do it with clothes. I was a dancer for 20 years and I think it’s a great shame that such an amazing cultural establishment is being blocked from the area.”
Stacey Clare, dancer and co-founder of the ELSC: “The White Horse provided reasonably good working conditions in an industry where licensees are under no obligation to uphold dancers’ welfare. Many venues are surviving because they’re allowed to financially exploit their workers, and there are no legal mechanisms to stop this. The White Horse was one of the few places that didn’t relentlessly fuck dancers over and now it’s closing, because the business couldn’t keep up.”
Vera, photographer and former dancer: “A place I would call home is closing down. It’s breaking my heart. Shoreditch, Soho … so many places are disappearing. London is selling its soul.”
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Man’s dying wish includes strippers for his own funeral
In China mourners were left completely shocked when a group of bikini-clad strippers appeared at a funeral. The ladies gyrated and seductively draped themselves over the coffin following an energetic dance routine.
The performance took place in front of a photo of the deceased, which was illuminated in colourful lights.
After three songs, the coffin of the deceased, known only as Mr. Jian was carried away for a more solemn ceremony.
However bizarre it might seem, the bizarre trend is rooted in an ancient Chinese belief that a larger crowd at someone’s funeral would endure his success in the afterlife.
Despite the trend’s huge number of followers and the positive effect it has on multiplying the audience at funerals, Chinese authorities are trying to clamp down on the trend.
In a National Geographic video on the subject a man describes the instructions a relative left for his funeral.
The man said: “He told his friends he wanted a hole to be dug in his coffin, and have the girls dance in front of him.
“That way, he could watch the dance through the hole.”
Believe it or not, this may not be the strangest funeral trend out there – at some funerals the dead body is propped up to make it look like it is still alive.
Read more on: https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/1531178/man-orders-strippers-for-his-own-funeral-in-bizarre-chinese-trend/