Terrifying bomb threat forces legendary London nightclub Heaven to evacuate for a second time

London nightclub Heaven was evacuated due to a bomb scare for the second time this year on Friday night (23 July).

As revellers across the country poured into clubs and festivals to celebrate ‘Freedom Weekend’, the famous venue opened for just a few hours before being evacuated around 9.15pm, after a “suspicious item” was reported.

Owner Jeremy Joseph tweeted that he felt “physically sick” at the news of the bomb scare as he waited for police with sniffer dogs to arrive at the venue.

The surrounding area at Villiers Street, Charing Cross was swiftly cordoned off and, after a thorough sweep of the venue, police confirmed that the report was a hoax.

Joseph later praised club-goers for clearing the venue in less than three minutes. The venue re-opened around 11.50pm that same night.

Heaven bomb scare stirs troubling memories

The worrying scenes at Heaven stirred unease within the LGBT+ community, flagging memories of a long history of gay clubs being targeted with deadly violence.

In 1999, Soho’s Admiral Duncan was hit by a nail bomb attack, the third in a series of hate crimes committed by self-described racist and homophobe David Copeland.

In 2016, Orlando’s Pulse nightclub became the scene of a homophobic mass shooting which left 50 people, including the 29-year-old attacker Omar Mateen, dead.

Friday was the second time this year that Heaven has been the victim of a bomb scare.

On May 3 this year, the venue was evacuated after a threat forced the stars of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK to flee rehearsals, leaving them “shaken”.

Also this weekend, London’s KU Bar was vandalised with graffiti in what is being interpreted as another targeted attack on the LGBT+ community.

Despite these incidents, last weekend was ultimately a celebratory one for London’s LGBT+ community.

On Saturday (24 July), thousands took to the streets of London in the first “Reclaim Pride” march, which called for inclusion, diversity and acknowledgement of Pride’s radical roots.

The chaos of Friday night didn’t dampen spirits at Heaven on Saturday, either; club-goers queued the entire length of Villiers Street to spend the first weekend without COVID-19 restrictions in the nightclub.

Threats of violence may continue, but as LGBT+ revellers and activists poured onto the streets and into gay clubs to dance, march and scream the weekend away, the overall mood was one of defiance.