If a picture tells a thousand words, then the bulging file in the Sydney Star Observer office reserved for photos taken at Arq must tell several million.
There are photos of the dancefloor (always in a state of advanced going- off-ness), celebrity visitors, A-listers, drag queens -¦ and dudes. Lots of dudes.
Arq’s reputation as a dude-hive has spread internationally in the three years since the club first opened those sleek, anodised steel doors. Most recently, the San Francisco gay newspaper Bay Area Reporter gave the club its ringing imprimatur, declaring it a multilevel pleasure palace where the boys enter each floor by a glass revolving door that lets you eye up the merchandise before he walks in the room. Smoking!
Arq’s owner, businessman Chris Curtis, says the club’s reputation seems particularly strong in the US.
Slightly over a year ago I was in New York, and I was just amazed by the number of Americans who knew of Arq, he says. There’s a two-way flow of traffic. We do bring a lot of US DJs out here and a lot of international acts.
Headlining Arq’s third birthday party this Sunday night is US circuit party veteran Escape -“ who comes highly recommended by local favourite, Paul Goodyear. (He’s also on the bill, along with Luke Leal, Greg Boladian, Baby Bear, Jake Kilby and Neal Crawford.) The party’s Trident theme will see the club redecorated with a lavish Neptune’s cave style.
The DJs and the dudes exert a powerful gravitational pull on Arq patrons, bringing them back time and time again, but the club has enhanced its appeal over the years through the quality of its live shows. For the third birthday celebrations, Disco Montego (featuring the vocal assistance of Bardot escapee Katie Underwood) and David Campbell will be on hand to entertain the sweaty masses.
David’s launching a dance music career, so we’ll be getting a sneak preview of that. It’s actually due for release next year, so we’re well ahead of the pack, Curtis says. He selected Arq to be the place to get it first, so we’re thrilled.
Arq’s long-held position at the head of the pack seems to defy the trend-based golden rule of nightclubbing. In fact, their position seems to grow ever more solid, and Curtis reports that the club set itself a new attendance record just a few weeks ago.
In the wake of the financial crisis engulfing Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, some people in the community have suggested that clubs like Arq have contributed to the diminishing returns organisations like Mardi Gras and Pride see from their dance parties. Because Arq can offer a dance-party-esque experience every weekend of the year, there may be less incentive for people to attend the big dance parties. Does Curtis see it this way?
I think that’s partially right but that would be to oversimplify it, he says. There are lots of reasons [why fewer people may be going to the big parties], some of which are out of Mardi Gras’ control. It’s more than just one factor.
The turmoil surrounding Mardi Gras may have consequences for a range of other organisations, but Curtis is confident of Arq’s position.
The market is very strong. It’s just got to organise itself to stay that way, he says.
Arq’s third birthday, Trident, takes place this Sunday 18 August from 10pm. Advance tickets are $25 or $30 on the door.
SSOnet User’s Comments:
I read with interest your story about ARQ. I realise that ARQ is a big advertiser of the Star, however, I have some serious concerns about the club’s commitment to the GLBT community. A friend of mine was recently refused entry because the door staff said he was too old. Isn’t the whole ethic of the GLBT community about inclusion and if so, how can a venue promoting itself so heavily to this community not uphold this value. On top of this, there is also the legality of refusing someone entry due to their age. There are no signs on age restrictions and had my friend been the type to cause trouble, he could make a packet out of this I am sure! After writing to the manager of ARQ, the response was that this is not their policy and that there was nothing in the incident book to state that the incident had actually occurred. So if this is not their policy, then why was my friend refused entry because he was too old? The question remains unanswered and all I can say is thank god there are plenty more venues on Oxford Street because I for one will not be visiting an ageist and exclusive club such as ARQ ever again. They’re happy to take our money when it suits them mind you!
Earlier today someone had posted a comment critcising ARQ and its treatment of a customer. At the time the writer of that posting made the observation that the SSO & ARQ probably have a close commercial relationship. The posting now seems to have been removed. I wonder why?
SSOnet Editor’s note: We are currently experiencing problems with the Comments section of our website. That is why yesterday’s postings were temporarily removed. Until this problem is fixed we are manually pasting user comments to the bottom of the stories. I apologise that the earlier Arq comment was dropped off, along with all of yesterday’s other comments. This was not in any way an attempt to censor discussion on this topic. From time to time postings are removed for legal or privacy reasons, but never for issues of commercial sensitivities.