For centuries, the one-square-mile London neighborhood of Soho has been the entertainment hotspot of England’s capital. Nowadays, it’s the center of London’s LGBT community, and plays host to upscale restaurants, jazz bars, private members clubs, theaters, and the remnants of a once bustling sex industry.
Very soon, the neighborhood will also welcome the naturist community after one of Soho’s oldest and most famous pubs became the first in London to receive a nudist license.
A local institution since it opened in 1847, current landlord Alastair Choat describes The Coach & Horses as “very much a traditional old boozer.” Speaking to CNN Travel, Choat explained that the application for the nudist license is part of an ongoing campaign to fight a takeover by Fuller’s.
London brewery Fuller’s has owned the establishment since 2011. Fuller’s doesn’t want to renew Choat’s lease when it ends this June and instead wants to bring in its own management.
According to Choat, the brewery also wants to spruce the place up, a move he says will be unwelcome among patrons. “They’re going to make it glorious in terms of their painting and decorating, but it’s never been like that ever. And that’s why people come here,” he says.
The Coach & Horses called out Fuller’s in a May 10 Facebook post, writing: “We do much that a chain pub never could or would, including hosting community and charity events, supporting local people who need us, supporting the LGBT community. How do you plan to help our community?’
Choat’s campaign to fight the takeover began with the launch of a 16-month naked calendar produced by the staff and regulars. “In times of real need and despair and trying to defend something of value,” he says, there is a “great British tradition of stripping off.”
After the calendar released, the pub was inundated with calls from naturists around the world enquiring whether the pub welcomed nudists.
So Choat applied for the necessary permission from local authorities and now plans to host a nude night in June. “All these people phoning up wanting to get naked and have a pint in the center of Soho will be able to do so,” he says.
The nudity will have to be pre-arranged and will take place a consensual environment to make sure everyone is comfortable with it. Meanwhile, The Coach & Horses team has launched an online petition, which, at the time of writing, has over 11,000 signatures.
If you’re in the area and you want to enjoy this “great British tradition,” The Coach & Horses is posting updates about the nude night on its Facebook page. Whatever you do, though, make sure you don’t ask for a Fuller’s or you might find yourself on the street before you have time to put your clothes back on.