London Vampire Society


Written by Kieron Monks
27 Wednesday 27th January 2010

Of all the classic monsters, few would disagree that vampires hold the most allure. They are sharp, sophisticated and go about their dastardly ways with politeness and good taste. Immortality too has its charms. For most, it is enough to watch them in movies. But for London's premiere vampire society the legend lives on.

'Ouch! I just burneded my hand.'

Based in the Devonshire Arms, Camden's legendary goth pub, the fanged ones are gathering for their monthly get together. In a room lit only by flickering candlelight, they congregate around tables lovingly decorated with roses and crushed velvet. Some are new, but the group is mostly made up of people that have grown up together. There are several whose membership has spanned the group's six year history. They are the core who have enabled The London Vampire Meet-up Group to amass almost 1,000 members.

Thunder, the group's main organiser, tells me how it works. "First and foremost, we're friends. We meet up to enjoy each other's company. We have a shared interest in the rich history and culture of vampires, but don't take it so seriously we can't have fun with it." Still, someone takes the whole thing seriously enough to put together a pretty impressive party and there's nothing half arsed about the costumes.

Thunder, the boss vamp

"Yes I dress like this every day", Thunder says of his regal chemise and velvet jacket. Practically everyone is kitted out in full regalia, from 18th century corsets to full body leather. Several have had their teeth sharpened into fangs by specialist dentists. "People can be rude and stupid but the stigma doesn't bother me too much. We get people posting on our message boards with comments like 'don't you realise you look like idiots?' We also have the odd problem with nutters who take it a bit too seriously."

Thunder has been organiser since 2004, overseeing great progress in that time. "The last organiser let everything decay," he says. "No-one was showing up to meets, often there was nothing to show up to." Now the monthly meets are just the tip of a bleeding iceberg. Group members also meet for film nights, contribute to a magazine and even go boat-tripping down the Thames after dark. "They're always fantastic," beams Vanity, a fetish lingerie designer. "Nobody ever misses them".

Sephiroth the Goff and his bird April

The majority of members discovered the LVMG via the goth scene, which most are still part of. The common ground is obvious, from the prevalence of darkness to the music they play. At the Devonshire it is a mix of industrial metal and Goth rock, banged out at an acceptable volume by DJ Sephiroth the Goff. This is more for atmosphere than dancing, with the vampires happy to drink and talk, often in antiquated English. "Greetings dark one" is a fairly typical introduction.

The commitment to a vampire lifestyle varies dramatically. Some are happy to dress up and indulge a fantasy, but to others this is very much real life. One of these is Lord Remero, a tall, elegant dude in his early thirties. He has been part of the culture his whole adult life. "I became aware of certain changes when I was growing up," he tells me. "I started to notice my increased strength. I could pick people up like they weren't there, smashing things without realising I was touching them. At first it scared me, but now I'm coming to terms with who I am." I press him to demonstrate some of his power. "Close your eyes and hold out your hand," he tells me, which I do. It's a cold night and my hand shivers, until they feel a sudden burst of warmth. Remiro smiles, "you feel my energy". He is committed to non-violence but what of others like him? "Are any of your kind killers?" I ask, but he will not answer.

Lord Ramero

There are different categories. Role-players have less of a commitment than lifestylers, with the former just happy to play along. Some consider the role-players to be tourists, having no real affinity with the culture, although there is no elitism in evidence here. There are also 'Psi-Vamps', who live by feeding off people's auras, sucking their life without doing them any real harm. We discuss techniques for this and most are similar to meditation, requiring great mind control.

The Dark Star - Thunder's bird

The more traditional are sanguinarians, or sang-vamps. These are literal blood drinkers, who experience massive highs from the red stuff. "We don't discourage people from doing this in their own time," Thunder says. "But we certainly don't allow it at meet-ups. It would make some people uncomfortable." I ask how many of his members are practising sang-vamps. "About 10 percent. But I'd rather not name any names." Thunder is keen to avoid hysteria about his group. "We don't like to be sensationalised. After Twilight came out all the newspapers were calling me for features, but I turned them down. I don't want to reinforce negative stereotypes."

For the most part a surprisingly down to earth party. Members of LVMG are keen to keep the extreme elements of vampirism out of the public domain, but happy share of the high living, fine manners, costumes and music. It may be a fantasy world, but that doesn't stop it being better than the real one.

Johnny - a new arrival
Johnny - a new arrival

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