Club Kali.. still leading the way after 27 years with our unique mixing and blending of safe, celebratory events with a focus on South Asian heritage. From club nights with our glamorous and gorgeous Chutney Queens on stage to our weekday fun Socials in the City, we are here to support, engage and connect our LGBTQ+ community, friends and supporters in London.
History Tour of Club Kali
The name Club Kali was chosen to reflect what was happening in the early 1990’s! Battles with evil forces, translate as battles with ignorant attitudes and homophobic forces! Destroyer of personal and spiritual demons and egos, out of which emerges enlightened and meaningful life. The focus of the women was to regenerate; to provide a strong united community which could come together to celebrate our diversity too!
Both founders also worked in the caring profession at the time. It soon became clear that the need for our LGBT community included a safe, caring almost maternal space too! Despite our efforts to not have any mainstream publicity, Kali became a not so secret members club, a real community. People shared painful worries, stories, hopes, dreams, wishes, plans and personal successes around coming out, or not, and about life as a LGBT person. Coaches started arriving in from Manchester, Leicester, and across England. There was nothing else like Club Kali anywhere in the world. An international profile developed, through word-of-mouth with folks often turning up having directly come from airport via across all continents! People checking in their suitcases in the cloakroom was not an unusual sight!
The Dome became our Home. Mainly for the stage acts and exhibitionists who came out in more ways than one! A genuine sprung wooden dancefloor big enough to do all the Bollywood and Bhangra moves you could desire. To DJ Ritu’s delight, the Kali dancefloor was filled with a multi-cultural following, non-Asians with Asians who yearned to hear Hindi film music mixed with RnB, Hip Hop, commercial house, but sung in Hindi, Punjabi, or Urdu, and everyone united by dancefloor beats and rhythms. This was and remains a blessing.
Kali’s Chutney Queens, trans community, and drag artistes transformed themselves in more ways than one too! Kali became the only safe haven where adorned in their finest saris, glitz, and beautifully made up, another aspect of stage shows and impromptu performances grew. The same Queens who had struggled to find a safe home welcomed people, and took newcomers under their wing and showing them the way! Kali’s hospitality is now world-renowned, as is our commitment to providing a safe space for all LGBTQ people.
There are too many classic tracks that define Club Kali’s community. This is so as just as many have heartwarming, life changing events or memories. We smile even now recalling clubbers joining hands, forming a dancing train to ‘Rail Gaddi’ around the room. The eager Gujarati circle dances making our own gay garbar teaching everyone else the circle steps. The hefty dose of dhol-drum which made everyone feel so alive, beating into the hearts as we fell into the unique giddha steps!
While Kali keeps an eye on the contemporary songs by Rihanna, to Lady Gaga, and Kylie, a sense of culture is maintained by celebrating a range of festivals which truly unites our community, hence Club Kali; from Eid, Diwali, Christmas and the summer solstice! The end result is an Asian version of Mama Mia – a hands-in-the-air party with everyone singing along!
Over time, we spread our wings into other venues too by putting on special events at The ICA, Victoria & Albert Museum, and the BFI, to name but a few. We’ve had top artists presenting their album launches at Kali, eg Balwinder Safri, Bally Sagoo, Rishi Rich, Karen David, Preeya Kalidas, Natacha Atlas, Raghav… and opened the door for new artists too (‘..who is Jay Sean?? Who is Juggy D.? Who is Gunjan? Who are Jinx? Who are B21? Who is Nitin Sawhney?…were some of the questions we got asked!)
On this strange journey we’ve had our share of hair-raising moments, as have the Queens!
.. A well known Bhangra PA
Singing his popular dancefloor hit Bhangra tune on stage he had a ‘light bulb’ moment. Dancing away, he suddenly realised that the four most beautiful women in the world, shimmering in all their finery on stage next to him were not quite the type of women he assumed!
.. Parents night
When we invited parents to join us! We recall one in particular where both parents were sat at the back of the dancefloor observing the dancing. A few Queens went over to receive their “blessing” and whilst doing so, someone standing behind felt so hot he took off his clothes right down to one teeny weeny item of clothing! Mother asked politely if this was a ‘normal’ occurrence.
.. Fit Firemen with their equipment
The night we had to evacuate the building and call the fire-brigade. Imagine the cheering when the fire engines pulled up, some very fit firemen in their uniform with equipment descended to loud cheers from the Kali boys. We wonder still what fires were put out that night?!
.. West side story!
Yes, we had our share of the Southall Sisters vs the Birmingham Babes! We’ve had wigs pulled off, claws come out, and the “bumping on the dancefloor” leading to us becoming Counsellor, Big Sister, Parent, Mother, Teacher, Mentor and Friend.. and we wouldn’t be any other way!
17 years on..
Club Kali continues to support the interests of all LGBTQ people and inspired Kali off-shoots in Birmingham, Manchester, and London.
We planned to set up a club called Kali, and ended up creating a Kali community. The road was lonely, and hard, but each step was a milestone, and a giant leap for so many.
This is what keeps us going, and is our reason to be.