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Night out: Asifa Lahore has faced cultural and religious pressures. Photograph: Sonja Horsman for the Observer/Observer
A group of men wearing elaborately embroidered saris holler with delight as Asifa Lahore totters onto the stage in a stunning peacock print dress.
The bhangra and Bollywood beats that have been blaring all night are temporarily switched off so that Britain’s first gay Asian drag queen can perform his debut single. Flicking back curly black locks and pouting suggestively at his fans, Lahore delivers a sensuous lyrical rendition that Shirley Bassey would be proud of.
It is Friday night in Club Kali, and a crowd made up almost exclusively of Asian gay and bisexual men and women is letting its hair down. Many are dressed in dazzling traditional clothing, kissing and hugging as they gyrate on the dance floor, creating a surreal atmosphere that is a cross between a student night and a lavish Indian wedding.
It is not just the eye-catching entertainment provided by Lahore, however, that is the main talking point of the night: events thousands of miles away in South Africa are also providing a rich source of conversation.
The trial of Shrien Dewani, the British businessman accused of arranging his wife’s murder while on honeymoon in South Africa in November 2010, has stirred widespread debate and mixed emotions within Britain’s Asian gay community.
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