Horse Meat Disco: 20 years of queer joy on the dancefloor

Writing in the liner notes to the first Horse Meat Disco compilation of 2009, regular guest DJ Danny Wang wonderfully captured a night at The Eagle, where this “queer party for everyone” started life on New Year’s Day back in 2004. Horse Meat Disco is now a global club and festival sensation, with tours as far afield as Australia and Brazil alongside long-running residencies in New York and Berlin. But no matter where any of the four residents James Hillard, Luke Howard, Jim Stanton and Severino Panzetta are jetting off to, every Sunday you’re invited to “Come and Kiki” at The Eagle, a small pub in Vauxhall, South London.

Sunday nights at The Eagle are a firm London clubbing tradition where the tribes unite under the mirrorball through a fog of dry ice and poppers, bathed in the warm glow from their famous neon sign. Their maxim of “A queer party for everyone, Homos and Heteros, club kids, bears, fashionistas, naturists, guerrilla drag queens, and ladies who munch” is as relevant today as was when the seeds were sown more than two decades ago.

On his arrival in London from rural Somerset in the late ’90s, James Hillard found London’s gay clubbing landscape to be far from the liberating place he had expected. “The whole thing was very fragmented with all these tribes in their own scenes, and I never liked that,” he says. “It was like if you were a Muscle Mary you went here, if you were a Bear you went here. And I wanted to party in a place that was much more inclusive and diverse.”