BJ's White Swan

BJ's White Swan

The original East End bar and still one of the very best.

BJ's White Swan

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556 Commercial Road, London, United Kingdom, E14 7JD

Long-established gay bar & nightclub, East End's very own White Swan has been going as a gay bar for over 30 years. Now, there's a new basement area with LED lighting, great sound system and weekly cabaret shows.

DJ's play a great mix of commercial house, garage to pop. Closed on Mondays. Photo ID required at weekends.

Weekday: Closed Monday. 5PM - 2AM Tuesday. 8PM - 2AM Wednesday to Thursday. 8PM - 3.30AM Friday

Weekend: 8PM - 3.30AM Saturday. Closed Sunday

Cabaret Show
GoGo Show
Rate BJ's White Swan
Audience Rating

Based on 36 votes



Got this wrong

I too remember the White Swan at its best . The clientele made this place the best gay venue in East London. I know Tower Hamlets council made life almost impossible for the two families that owned it, and in many ways I don’t blame them for wanting to get rid. The council put more and more pressure on them and the more adult aspects of the cabaret and eventually forced it to become doubtless what it is now. As a previous reviewer said, the whole refurbishment story was a con. They knew they would never pull off the refurb without the gay money, so they pumped the story of a bigger and better gay venue which got smaller and smaller. Basically they used the pink pound until they didn’t need it anymore, and then created a hostile environment to force the switch to a straight venue. Basically if a straight venue was ever going to work, they could have simply shut it as a gay club and opened it as straight. They knew there was no demand, and have pulled this con trick which will not be forgotten for a long time. This was the greatest gay venue in East London. Now its just a bar, which has nothing unique to draw newcomers in, and nothing of its reputation to retain its customer base. Pole dancing is in plentiful supply in the West End. So are decent Gay bars, which is why I doubt this place will last long. It is a great shame. Talk about killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.


No more fun

Used to love this place, loved its edge. Yeah it wasn't swanky but it had a vibe. Lost it all. Who chose the new look? The fun is dead. RIP to the girl you used to be.


Disappointing- ruined by the security

Haven't been to this place for 4 or 5 years maybe so dropped by Saturday night. I remember the place being busy, lots of locals, unpretentious, no frills and a fun night out. That was when they had both sides of the building open - I'm guessing a couple of hundred people there maybe. Its changed. 1. The security at the outside gate is awful. Where else in London do you have to present **PHOTO ID** which is scanned and your photo taken to match against it in some high tech machine? Who knows what they do with your personal information? Seriously? Really? Are you f***ing kidding me ? 2. The security guards x3 appear like Russian mobsters, totally unsuitable for a gay venue. Before I got through the door I had already lost any good feeling. Russians are not exactly well known for LGBT tolerance!! 3. You get to the building door to be met by yet another security guy directing you to pay money. The positive vibe at this point has pretty much gone. 4. Inside they've refurbished - the part that was the large dance floor in the room to the left is now the straight pole dancing club and they've cut some stairs into the floor on the right side to get down to the basement. This leaves the upstairs smaller than before with some new chairs to sit on. The decor is something "art deco" - black and white with lots of chrome and probably how they did the straight strip club - no bad thing. So the basement bar is quite decent throughout including toilets etc, it looks good, high quality, well air conditioned and good sound system. Music was pretty ok also. Think downstairs at Ku bar maybe for a similar size but brighter and much nicer decor. So has real potential to be a fun dance room. So what was the problem? Well Saturday night there were less than 30 people there around 12:45 which is supposed to be the peak time. Could have had that party in your living room maybe. Every 10-15 minutes the security came prowling round and made you feel like anything remotely fun you might do would result in you being taken out the back and getting a couple of broken legs. Basically the place is dead - not fun at all - I seriously doubt the other reviews saying it was an amazing night out are genuine or the place changed dramatically since then - killed off by the cold ultra straight security maybe. It's such a shame because if the place had been busy it would have be excellent. It's just lost all it's vibe and shows how updating a place can ruin it if you don't make it friendly. I don't think this place will be open much longer which is a real shame. For the owners - get rid of your ridiculous security - if you need that for your strip club because your customers are so high risk then create a different entrance and hire some gay friendly staff. Don't you realise that gay venues just don't have the same drunken fights that straight clubs suffer from??? Clearly you've little experience of this market. Everyone knows reasonable security is sensible but this is far too much and very inappropriate.


Management Response

Hi, I am so sorry that you felt you did not have a good time at the new look White Swan. My company took on the venue a few years ago and we did a complete refurbishment of the venue and built a brand new night club in the basement, as we kept the old club to turn in to our gentlemen bar from Monday to Friday and is then used by the Swan at weekend to hold our promoter nights. The security on the door are all from Lithuania and not Russia. They have been through staff training since your visit and are now very gay friendly, the security system you went through is required by Tower Hamlets Council and the local police, we have to have to have a licence. Saturday night are our busy night and I can only say sorry to you, it must have been 1 of those quiet nights and I'm sure all bars have the same problem in the area we are in. The white swan is a destination venue as you will make a night of it. Once again I'm sorry you did not enjoy yourself



One of the only true gay venue's that still cater and care for the lesbian and gay community. Great music, Great Djs and GREAT drag queens always. Love the Swan and thank goodness it's still here after all these years.


Great Bar and Club

I visited London for the first time from the States, and I was told to go check out the White Swan. I went on a Saturday night and from the start I was made to feel welcome. The door host (I think his name is Steve) was very welcoming. I went into the club/bar and was instantly surprised to see a very busy place. In the lounge area was an act called The Trolletts and boy, did they entertain.. then another act called Sandra, she was fantastic. Songs, jokes, real entertainment, pop music from the decades and a fun night - only £8 to get in. I stayed till 5am in the morning. Great fun, safe club. Loved it and will be back next year.



The best gay pub in London.



Well done White Swan. I was back in London visiting family last weekend and came down Friday night, had an amazing time both me and my sister. Can't believe how much you have improved the decor! It was great before but now it's totally amazing! Had such a great night Friday dancing till kicking out time that we came back Saturday night to enjoy the stage act. If you haven't been then believe me... you should. Many thanks again, Janet x


LOVELY BAR/CLUB...Loved it...!

I found this WhiteSwan pub/club last weekend, so me and my partner went in. It was brilliant! Apparently they have recently finished doing it all up (and I like it). Most def gonna make this a regular haunt. Great music good atmos and very nice people both staff and customers. Well done all @ the Swan (5 STARS)


Total let down

I've been going to The Swan for 25 years. I've not been for 5 years. So popped down this weekend with friends - oh my god I was shocked. Yes it's had a lovely refit. But lost its soul. Music was not that great. Needed a bit of disco dolly in the mix too. This place used to be wall to wall Essex geezers and a good night out, now it's 50 people max on a Saturday night? Straight security guards giving you dirty looks. Not for me anymore. Oh one thing I will say it still has a sticky floor!


Absolutely Fabulous Place...!

I totally disagree with the comment before, I am a gay man and have been for most of my adult live, some 20 years. I have been frequenting the White Swan for longer than I can remember and knew the previous owners Barry and Jimmy and know now the new management very well, and in my personal opinion the new owners and management have improved the White Swan tremendously! The previous owners spent very little where as the new have spent numerous thousands up to now and are still investing many more thousands in their new basement club which is in progress as I write this. The place is kept very clean and is run very professionally, new acts are being introduced and the music is always great. I just do not understand why some gays bash heterosexuals and claim they are the hard done by ones...! Good work White Swan.


Small horrible dirty

Too small and over-priced considering the awful location. And I agree the doormen do not like gays and make jokes about us.


Reduced size for a hetrosexual club

The new heterosexual management have decided to close half of the Swan and turn it into a heterosexual lap dance club, despite claiming for over a year that it is being made into a better gay club - what a lie! Since the new management took the lease there have been less and less people going due to poor management and heterosexual security that do not seem to like gays and watch you like a hawk interfering in everything. Quite frankly gays are being used to pay for the lap dancing part of the venue. The gay part of the Swan is now reduced to one small bar that is severely small. Don't waste your time going.


best night ever

Heard a lot of great stuff about the new look Swan. So me and my partner pop in on Sunday to the 3 of a kind show they have. Cosmic bitchy bing was hilarious and I won a free shot. Then we got entertained by a drag queen called Tanya Hyde and dusty springs. They even have amateur strip, 2 stunning guys striped bare and won £50 loving the great look of the place, made us feel very welcome and great drink offers on a Sunday. Will be back this Sunday.

Comments / Reviews are the subjective opinion of Travel Gay users, not of Travel Gay.