'It's a Babylon 5 reference,' says Janine, friendly Kiwi and co-organiser of League of The Non-aligned (LOTNA), by the way of explanation. 'Though the point is, we don't align ourselves with any particular show. We're not just about Star Wars or Dr Who, we're a broad church here.'
Inclusivity is important to Janine and her LOTNA co-organiser husband Dave: the Westminster Trekkie pub they met at 14 years ago was 'cliquey and unfriendly'. So Dave formed LOTNA and 11 years on, more than 150 members regularly drop by for these bi-monthly sci-fi socials.
Its success is partially because, despite their loner geek reputation, sci-fi fans are a pretty sociable bunch. 'Fans spend so long in front of the computer, they like going out to a "real life" chat room,' explains Dave, a laid back, paternal figure welcoming everyone into the pub's cosy backroom. It's also because members are friendly. 'We've had three marriages and an engagement so far,' beams Janine. 'My mum met her husband here,'chips in David, an 18-year-old Dr Who fan and LOTNA member since he was 12. So what's the appeal? 'I like talking about my favourite shows and my friends aren't really interested,' says David. Around him, members nod sympathetically.
But that's not to say everyone is a hard-core Whovian (Dr Who fan), Trekkie (Star Trek), Scaper (Farscape), or Browncoat (Firefly). And there's a surprising number of twentysomething women there, too. 'Shows like Dr Who and Heroes have made sci-fi cool,' Kelly, a pretty Australian observes. 'And anyway,' Janine adds, 'football fans know the names of their "characters" and go around "in costume", painting their faces and no one accuses them of being uncool.
LOTNA meets every second and fourth Saturday of the month at The Miller of Mansfield SE1. Tube: Borough
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