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Simon Hobart (September 24, 1964 – October 23, 2005) was one of the most influential figures in British gay nightlife of his era. He was most famous for creating the hugely popular, long-running alternative nightclub Popstarz at London's Scala. He was also the owner and promoter of Soho venues Ghetto (which hosted the Nag Nag Nag night) and Trash Palace.
He began his career as a promoter and DJ at a Westbourne Grove goth club in the early 80s, the KitKat. In 1984, a photo of him in full goth regalia was splashed across the front page of the tabloid The Sun, above the caption "Godfather of Goth." Hobart took the fall for the first club raid on London’s first all-night club. Police (dressed as goths) surveiled the soon-to-be infamous venue and saw no club managers or owners at the place: just the 20-year-old DJ. 200 police descended upon the premises. Hobart got away with community service and the club became wildly popular.
Following the huge success of the night, he went on to open another club that became a legend of its time, Bedrock. He has said in interviews that he promoted the club's opening night (3 February 1989 At Oxfords, 21 Oxford street W1) by not letting anyone in, forcing them in a long queue outside, but blasting the music and pretending it was packed to capacity inside. There was immediate buzz about the new, "wildly successful" indie dance night.
Popstarz and later career
On 25 May 1995, he started his first gay night, Popstarz, capitalizing on the popularity of Britpop. "If Popstarz had failed," he told Alternative London Magazine, "I wouldn’t have embarrassed myself, because I didn’t know anyone in the gay community." It became his most successful creation, and more than a thousand patrons a week continue to arrive each Friday. Many stars have partied there, and it has been host to many world-class bands, including Scissor Sisters, The Dandy Warhols, Le Tigre, and Goldfrapp.
He told Gay.com that he started Popstarz to bring something different to the gay scene, away from the “factory-farm stereotyped, mindless, blinkered gay people” churned out by other clubs. "The feeling was that gay people had been liberated from the hell that they’d been in for most of their teen to adult lives,” he said. “So many people said to me it was like coming out of the closet for the second time.”
In more recent years, his passion was the Ghetto (previously the Tube Nightclub), a small basement club behind the London Astoria, where he had the opportunity to nurture a number of criss-crossing alternative gay scenes. The Ghetto, where Simon spent six nights a week (except Fridays at Popstarz, where he spun), had nights ranging from Redeye (gay metal/punk/rock with devout regulars who connected on the bentpunk internet forum) to The Cock (celebrity-studded, ambisexual post-electroclash) to Misshapes (cutting edge indie with a heavy lesbian presence). On Saturdays Simon himself spun at Wig Out, his packed, unpretentious pop night. Shortly before his death, his new alternative bar Trash Palace hosted the first gay freshers fair for new students in the capital.
Simon often said he was willing to take losses on certain nights (such as Redeye) because he was so committed to promoting the alternative gay scene. In fact, all events and venues run by Simon were and continue to be run on a semi-charitable basis with any profits after costs going to charity.
Simon Hobart died in the early hours of Sunday October 23, 2005 outside his home. He was 41 years old.
- Lutyens, Dominic (October 26, 2003). "The gay team". The Observer. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
- Obituary from The Guardian, Wednesday 2 November 2005 by David Hudson
- Obituary from The Times (subscribers only, retrieved October 2011)
- Family pay tribute to London gay legend, Simon Hobart Pink News