Monday, October 24, 2005


The death has been announced of Simon Hobart, the club owner who first offered hope to young gay, lesbian and bisexual indie kids that they might be able to go clubbing and not have to dance to, well, dance.

Hobart's Popstarz was one of two indie gay nights started in London in 1995, alongside the equally well-regarded, but more shambolic Vaseline night. While Vaseline transmuted into the less-litigational Club V and concentrated on the messier side of indie and the fanzine culture, Popstarz concentrated more on creating a successful business, albeit one with a commitment to offering an alternative to what Simon described as "factory-farms stereotyped, mindless, blinkered gay people” churned out by other clubs." Hobart recognised that there was a massive unsatisfied market of gay and bi people who wanted to dance with their fringes over their eyes instead of their shirts off their backs. “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.”

The success of Popstarz led to a sudden blossoming of other non-straight indie club nights around the country, most notably in the form of Poptastic, although the lack of a large geographic catchment area meant a lot of the original bright-eyed provincial nights started to water down their indie policy: first Kylie would edge out the Mudhoney; then Sonia would start to take over from the Kenickie, until at some nights it could be difficult to remember you'd turned up on the promise of an alternative. Actually, that's not so very different from most straight indie nights, now we come to think of it. But the slow slide to mainstream was, largely, resisted by Hobart.

Hobart moved from promotion to club owning in the late 90s, with the purchase of the Ghetto Club, and the more recent Trash Palace.

Simon, who was 41, was found dead outside his his home in the early hours of Sunday morning. The exact cause of death has yet to be determined, and although it's not thought to be suspicious, police are requesting anyone who can shed light on the circumstances call Crimestoppers in 0800 555111.

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