New hope for iconic LGBT+ London venue

A group campaigning for the reopening of the Black Cap, the well-known and popular LGBT+ pub and cabaret venue on London’s Camden High Street, has announced that significant progress has been made in returning the iconic venue to the London scene.

Members of Black Cap Foundation community campaign group have met with Kicking Horse, which owns the freehold of the Black Cap site, along with representatives of Camden council and the GLA culture-at-risk team.

According to Black Cap Foundation, all sides agreed to work together to identify a new, third-party leaseholder to reopen the Black Cap as an LGBT+ venue with cabaret performance at its heart.

Alex Green

Alex Green

Black Cap Foundation director Alex Green, said: We’re thrilled at this agreement. This is a crucial step towards our goal of reopening the Black Cap, and we welcome the cooperation of the freeholders and the support of Camden council and the GLA in making that a reality.

“We’ve always believed the Black Cap’s unique, irreplaceable legacy of community and culture is worth fighting for, and can’t wait to see how it will be reinvented next.”

A spokesperson for Kicking Horse said: We very much hope to find the leaseholder with the right vision, experience and resources to begin a brand new chapter for this world-famous venue.”

Amy Lamé

Amy Lamé

Comedienne and performer Amy Lamé, who was appointed Night Czar by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, said: I would love to see the legendary Black Cap open for business again. Over the past decade, London has lost more than half of its LGBT+ venues and this must stop. The Mayor is clear that LGBT+ venues are a fundamental part of London’s vibrant nightlife and culture, and has tasked me with stemming the flow of closures across the city.

“My team and I have been able to work alongside the Black Cap Foundation community campaign group, Camden council and the venue owners Kicking Horse to work towards a resolution that will see this iconic venue throw open its doors once more.

“This announcement is a huge step forward. I hope a new leaseholder can be found swiftly and I can’t wait to work with them and join London’s diverse LGBT+ community in enjoying the unique atmosphere of the Black Cap.”

The Black Cap has been a space of queer community and culture since before partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967. It closed its doors in April 2015.

Known as the ‘Palladium of Drag’, it has hosted residencies by ground-breaking performers such as Lily Savage, and Mrs Shufflewick and Regina Fong, after whom the pub’s first-floor Shufflewick Bar and Fong Terrace is named. More recently, it was home to the Family Fierce, who showcased acts from RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Since the 2015 closure, Black Cap Foundation has maintained a weekly Saturday afternoon vigil outside the pub, celebrating the venue’s past and sharing stories with local residents while campaigning for its reopening.

A recent report from University College London’s Urban Laboratory found that 58% of London’s LGBT+ venues have closed in the past decade, despite many remaining commercially viable.

The Black Cap’s new leaseholder will take on a 25-year lease for the five-storey building, and it is reported that conversations are already underway with a number of prospective leaseholders, though no firm offer has yet been made.

Campaigners and the freeholder are working together to generate new marketing materials, and some business information is already available.

Interested parties are encouraged to contact Alex Green of the Black Cap Foundation on alex@loudandqueerly.com and Paul Tallentyre of David Coffer Lyons Sales Agent on ptallentyre@dcl.co.uk for further details.

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