Jack Cullen

Popstarz packs in Soho for Voho

Attention Vauxhall, time for a protein shake ban, we need to pack more gays in...

Hundreds of gay boys (and shock horror - the occasional female friend too) will be marching across the Thames next month proudly donning their Topman bargains, as one of London's most popular gay nights Popstarz officially moves to Vauxhall's club Hidden. The event on Friday 5th October has been dubbed a "MEGA RELAUNCH PARTY" following the closing down of its former home The Den a few months ago. Jack caught up with Popstarz chief and co-promoter Tommy Turntables:

So Tommy, you were the founder of Popstarz right?
No, it was started by Simon Hobart and Blanche many years ago at the Paradise Club in Islington. I joined the team when it was six months old. Sadly Simon is no longer with us so I run it with Blanche. We had a spell at The Scala, then The Den of course, and most recently Green Carnation. We're really excited about this new move to Hidden in Vauxhall though.

I thought Hidden was a straight club?
They host some straight nights but are actually run by the team who used to be behind The Scala. Hidden is a fantastic venue with its own garden area for smoking, it's perfect for the Popstarz crowd.

Is it true that Popstarz was modelled on the Manchester gay night Poptastic?
Popstarz started a year or two before Poptastic so the reverse is true. Poptastic is great though.

Something that sets you apart from other gay nightlife brands is the indie room - would you say this your trump card?
I dunno if it's our trump card but it is certainly different. Then again we play a different kind of pop to most other gay clubs too and adding the RnB room makes for a great combination - so maybe it's the variety. Our main selling point is our crowd. They’re a really friendly and enthusiastic bunch, it feels like being on holiday every Friday.

Tell us about yourself Tommy, assuming one or two GT readers have never heard of you.
Seriously some people haven't heard of me? I am shocked, haha! No, I don't do a lot of press. I’m not a media whore and I’m quite down to earth for a promoter. I'm from Brighton, gay, and single, unless you count my Ridgeback-crossdog. I've been promoting clubs for 17 years and my main passion has always been music. I DJ at popstarz in the indie room and also at The Barfly in Camden, and Zigfrid in Hoxton square.

Do you ever meet up with other big gay promoters like Gary Henshaw (KU Bar) or are you like Bugsy Malone-style rivals?
I don't consider anyone to be a rival and I manage to have a good relationship with other promoters. Popstarz exists in a bit of a bubble, we don't tread on people's toes.

So this move to Vauxhall - Do you think you'll lose the twink end of your following? It's a bit dark and dusty in Vauxhall.
Dark and dusty is very Popstarzy! Although we get some youngsters I wouldn't call the Popstarz kids twinks, they are rougher around the edge than that, cute but with wide interests and music tastes. But chasing an age group has never been our thing. Popstarz is for everyone whatever your age or gender.

Talking of all ages. Have you heard of the "GrandpaStarz"? They're this small group of old men who are ALWAYS at your night? Do you know the ones?
Yes - I am one of them!

I suppose Voho will be a graduation in some ways for your younger partygoers. Will there be sordid after-parties in Chariots?
I am sure some of our crowd will use Chariots like a cheap hotel! And why not. I'd quite like a Popstarz party somewhere as a one off, but Chariots don't have a dancefloor sadly, or beer on sale, and those are two very important Popstarz ingredients. We have a 6am license at Hidden - that's probably late enough for most Popstarz punters.

Last time I went to Poptarz I saw Rufus Wainwright in the smoking area. Which other famous faces come through your doors?
Lots and lots. I hate name dropping but a few whom I know won't mind being name checked are Andrew Garfield, Brian Molko, Dan Gilespie Sells, Elton John occasionally, The Scissor Sisters, Mika, Morrissey and Sophie Ellis-Bextor. We've had Reese Witherspoon in too!

Finally, every time I go to Popstarz I meet someone with a cooler name than me, like Andy Lovelee, or Charles Pitt the 3rd. Can you invent a trendy Popstarz name for me please Tommy?
Sure. You can be Jack Daniels the 4th, Earl of Albert Embankment.

Thanks, I'll get that printed on a low-slung vest ASAP. We’ll send a memo to Sophie Ellis-Bextor too, we don’t want her stranded in Soho in heels.
Thank you! See you in Vauxhall on the 5th!

Find Tommy on Twitter @TommyTurntables, and Jack @jackcullenuk.

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