The old Asanbay car wash lies empty by day, a lonely mirage of heat dancing on the bare concrete forecourt as traffic rumbles in the distance. But once the sun sets on a Saturday night, scores of young people emerge from the darkness, descending upon the venue.
They knock on an old wooden door, throw a cautionary glance over their shoulders, and disappear into the derelict building located on the outskirts of the Kyrgyz capital.
Occasionally, a flash of purple light breaks through a gap in the curtains, betraying the secret revelry within. For this inconspicuous car wash plays host to Bishkek's only LGBT club, called London.
Its founders, a vivacious lesbian couple who resemble bouncers in both build and demeanor, command a table at the entrance of the bar and survey each customer who passes through the door.
Entrance is dependent on a good recommendation from one of the night's regular customers. New faces draw suspicion, and for good reason -- homophobia is pervasive within Kyrgyz society and often accompanied by violence. Read more via Radio Free Europe