The current popularity of the Midnight Shift (both video bar and upstairs nightclub) has not gone unnoticed among clubbers and friends from a wide variety of backgrounds. Like every other bar or club in town the Midnight Shift has gone through its peaks and valleys. After 22 years it’s arguably at another peak, confirmed by the win last week of the DIVA for best venue of 2003. One theory is that on top of everything else, the venue is also the gayest in town. Straight people won’t go there, like they would to other clubs, was the suggestion.

The Midnight Shift’s promotions manager Daniel Deephouse couldn’t agree more. We’ve put a lot of effort -¦ to make it a community place, to make it somewhere people feel comfortable. We are a gay-owned and gay-run establishment. There aren’t very many of us left.

The Shift’s regular season of events supports Deephouse’s earnest claims, nights including the regular leather evening Indulgence, the D&G fashion launch, the Underwear Party, Gaysha (for the Asian gay community and friends) and Porn (a dance party with special endowed guest). Deephouse neglected to mention the venue’s hosting of the ludicrously popular Ruby, nor the unofficial but well loved bear gatherings downstairs on a Sunday afternoon. (About the only area where the club falls down is in attracting the lesbian community.)

I’ve worked at a lot of places, Deephouse said. The big thing here is that the owners really do care -¦ supporting things like Mardi Gras, we’re the official recovery for them. On an ongoing basis there’s the AIDS Trust, we’re always raising money for them, and the BGF Bake-Off.

We raised the most money they’ve ever raised at a Bake-Off this year. Last year they only had five or six cakes entered and this year there were up to 30. It was amazing. We raised over $30,000, he said.

This weekend’s party is called The Best Little Whorehouse In Town, a theme intended to encourage dressing up and getting down. For Deephouse it’s also about being proud of one’s sexuality.

The reason I got involved in this venue is that it was almost being ashamed of being gay when I was running all the straight venues, he said. At DCM it was Tim Berry [current owner of the Shift] who actually started the whole gay nightclub, big nightclub feel in Sydney. That was the only one. (Gay historians might suggest earlier comparable venues like Capriccios, but this seems like quibbling. DCM’s was certainly the start of something.)

Now all the straight venues are fabulous and we’ve kind of lost our identity a bit there, Deephouse continued.

Most people I meet -“ and I’m definitely one of them -“ came out in a nightclub. It was our first gay experience, or where we first turned around and said, -˜I can be gay, this is me.’ Unfortunately we haven’t had a venue like that for a long time, where people can actually feel like they can come out -¦ Some of them are very gay but they’re also very straight.

We’re just trying a create a place that people can be proud of and come out and know it’s really safe and know they’re going to have a fantastic time, Deephouse said.

The Best Little Whorehouse In Town! is on this Saturday 30 August from 10pm to 7am. Dress code is hustlers and whores. Tickets are $25 presale from the Midnight Shift video bar or $30 on the door.

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