Future of Oxford Street’s Midnight Shift as a gay bar unclear after acquisition by new owners

Future of Oxford Street’s Midnight Shift as a gay bar unclear after acquisition by new owners
Image: The Midnight Shift. Image: Ann-Marie Calilhanna.

The future direction of a formerly iconic Oxford Street gay bar is yet to be determined after its acquisition by new owners.

The area’s famous Midnight Shift club closed its doors in October last year after almost 40 years.

It had been one of the city’s biggest gay nightclubs, popular for trivia nights and drag shows.

At the time of closing, former director and licensee Mark Mader thanked everyone who had made the club successful, calling it “the end of an era”.

Midnight Shift has now been acquired by hospitality group Universal Hotels, which in the last year has also bought Oxford Street precinct venues the Kinselas Hotel, the Brighton Hotel, and the Oxford Hotel.

Universal Hotels managing director Jim Kospetas said he was attracted to Oxford Street because it is “such an amazing precinct that is so close to the CBD” and “the gateway to the Eastern Suburbs”.

He added that he believes in the precinct and wants to see it continue to flourish.

“Darlinghurst, while hit hard by the introduction of lock-out laws in 2014, is showing signs of recovery,” said Kospetas.

“We plan to work closely with the community and with our fellow hoteliers to revitalise the area as a whole.”

The future of Midnight Shift, once known for entertainment showcasing LGBTI performers, is yet to be revealed.

Kospetas said the new owners will be taking their time in deciding the club’s next direction, while respecting its history as part of Sydney’s gay nightlife.

“We respect the Darlinghurst community and also the Midnight Shift’s heritage as one of the state’s first gay venues,” he said.

“We plan to consult at length with the community in order to formulate our vision for the venue.”

According to a report by Pubtic, Kospetas is planning “a new direction” for the bar, and will likely be offering more of an open-to-everybody approach.

“Where previously the world was gay venues or not, now you’ve got to be open to everybody,” he said.

“Open it up to what Oxford Street is these days.”

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