For the majority of The National Archives records, same sex acts between men have been criminalised. Historically, various social and cultural practices could be used as evidence against individuals. Despite this, throughout the 1920s, 30s and 40s there was a thriving queer community who were able and willing to socialise despite the risk.
The National Archives collection has a particularly striking set of records around queer spaces from this era. A hidden network of private members clubs, pubs, restaurants and dancehalls provided a sanctuary where men could meet other men regardless of the law.
Knowledge of these spaces were spread through queer networks and many venues had an entrance price, which for some may have been prohibitive. However we can see a broad range of people, from various social backgrounds, gathering, from labourers to school masters.
Our records demonstrate a community resistant, resilient and determined in the face of persecution. These clubs and dancehalls were vital places where men, and some women, could freely meet, socialise and undertake relationships. One such club was the Caravan.