(Words: Jamie Tabberer)
Make no mistake: these are hard times for queer venues worldwide. But a surprise opening in London is set to stimulate the city's LGBTQ+ nightlife next week.
In fact, the glossy new ARCH bar is opening just days after coronavirus-induced national lockdown ends - and the unlikeliness of its timing is not lost on one of its owners.
“What a time to open a venue!” Nieko Strobel says of the Clapham bar, which Attitude can reveal is opening on Friday 4 December. (Please note: you must sign up to attend).
“As a resident of Clapham I’ve always loved the buzz of the area and how many LGBTQ+ people there are here," he explains. "So I thought it was the perfect time actually, with everything becoming a bit more localised."
"The obstacles naturally have been timescale and awaiting constant changes in government guidelines," he adds. "But we’ve been working with them to ensure we’ve built a socially distanced venue that reminds people of the fun of socialising and going out again!”
"I adore the London scene, what it represents to the rest of the world"
Strobel certainly has the relevant experience to make a success of ARCH, which will take pride of place next door to gay lifestyle store FETCH. He's been a key part of London's queer scene for “a decade now."
"After working in LBGTQ+ venues in Oxford, Reading and Bristol, I moved to London when I was 19," he says. "I started working at Ku Group, a chain of Soho venues which I idolised - I spent seven years there as PR manager.
“I later tested and grew my operational skills in a clubbing environment as General Manager of Circa The Club on Embankment for 18 months. I adore the London scene, what it represents to the rest of the world, and it has been a true honour to be a part of such legendary venues.”
Strobel adds of ARCH: “We’ve proudly built a complete social hybrid venue that reflects the time of day, with awesome food and delicious drinks. We’ll be doing weekend brunches, Sunday roasts, and many, many more evenings of events and entertainment with DJs to match playing all those Ibiza beach bar vibes.
“There’s a huge LGBTQ+ population who reside in Clapham and it’s surrounding areas, so this venue is for them, and those who want to feel at home in London’s newest LGBTQ+ venue! Sign up at archclapham.co.uk to book for the opening!
“I’m proud to say we’ve built a venue on the basis of COVID restrictions – socially distanced, spacious, and all about sitting down for a couple of hours for a mixture of great food and drinks, the ‘new’ social experience as it were… and a great quality and standard."