The opening of a new gay bar on Oxford Street -“ and the reopening of an old one -“ has local business owners optimistic of a resurgence on the strip.
The new venue is set to open this December at 41 Oxford Street in the heritage-listed Commonwealth Bank building. Named Slide Lounge, it will be a cocktail bar with a restaurant and is being built by the same crew who last year resurrected The White Horse hotel on Crown Street, Surry Hills.
Meanwhile the Beauchamp hotel at 267 Oxford Street, which closed several years ago, will be back in business as a gay bar with new owners and a new look before the end of the year. It will also have a restaurant.
Darlinghurst Business Partnership chair Phil Wharton said the opening of the two gay bars is a wonderful thing for the strip.
He hoped the increased pedestrian traffic between the two venues would reignite business on the street, which has been badly affected by the current road works.
These bars will bookend the street and help us define the area, he said.
General manager of Slide Lounge, Brian Reid, said it was time to get gay people back down the west end of Oxford Street.
The strip needs to be balanced. It’s time to plant a flag down this end and say we’re a fabulous gay venue and we’re staying here. And hopefully we might get a few other businesses down here.
Reid, who oversaw the reconstruction of The White Horse and used to work at Home nightclub, said he wanted Sydney to have the kind of gay bars he’d seen in New York and London.
Since the Albury Hotel closed a few years back there’s been a distinct lack of variety on Oxford Street in terms of music and venues, Reid believes. So he planned to encourage DJs at Slide to play different music, the kind of songs they aren’t allowed to play by managers at other bars.
There will also be live performers such as cabaret singers and jazz musicians. We want to find performers or acts or singers that exist in the gay community that haven’t got the stage to perform on.
The chef designing the menu at Slide is Jeff Campbell of the InterContinental Hotel, who did the menu at The White Horse and used to work with Jamie Oliver in London.
Slide Lounge has been in the planning for three years. It was meant to open before the White Horse but construction was held up by council due to the building’s heritage status, Reid said.