“Soho has been gentrified and overrun,” Kabir Khurana and Joshua Potter tell GAY TIMES. “The places where so many of us found our homes, our people and our true selves – queer inclusive late night venues – are diminishing in number.” The duo, alongside Dasha Korznikova, wanted to change this – resulting in the birth of Hotel @ 49A. London’s latest LGBTQ+ nightlife venture is as exclusive as it is chic, all while offering a safe space where all are welcome. “Hotel is a place where people can push themselves to the limits of their own self expression,” Kabir and Joshua continue. “Find not only escapism but liberation. A place for people like us to connect with friendly, like minded people.”
Here, GAY TIMES talks to Kabir and Joshua about why they created Hotel @ 49A and what “high glam debauchery” you can expect from it.
We’ve seen so many LGBTQ+ venues close down in the last decade. Why did you decide that now is the perfect time to launch Hotel @ 49A?
Soho has been gentrified and overrun. The places where so many of us found our homes, our people and our true selves – queer inclusive late night venues – are diminishing in number. The places that are for our community are often not for all of our community; catering towards traditional gay beauty standards. The more upmarket venues use us as a means to make their clubs seem more avant-garde or cool, treating us more like a disposable product than a true patron, leaving so many of us feeling further isolated and discarded. This is all against a backdrop of an increasingly queerphobic Britain. On the flip side, for the first time in a very long time our community is growing and not shrinking. We are more visible and connected than ever. Hotel felt like a chance to join in on the fight back against all of this. Honestly, it was now or never.
How would you describe the club night in three words?
Chic, Erotic, Glamour.
What can people expect from a night at Hotel @ 49A?
One can check in to Hotel expecting a night of some true high glam debauchery; an opportunity to step through the looking glass for some true balls to the wall, swinging from the chandeliers type fun. Think sex. Think style. Hotel is a place where people can push themselves to the limits of their own self expression. Find not only escapism but liberation. A place for people like us to connect with friendly, like minded people. Behind our velvet curtain lies an array of beautiful creatures of the night, pumping disco-house, flowing drinks (provided by our drinks sponsor Clii Crémant) and maybe even the odd special guest or two….
You’ve said in the past that you want to “bring sex and style back to Soho” with this club night. How is Hotel @ 49A doing that?
Soho is dead. The glamour is gone. Everywhere and everyone looks identical. So, we brought back a good old dress code. Our dress code, enforced by our fierce door girl, ensures that everyone who comes down to Hotel puts in as much effort into the night as we do. This creates a unique, three dimensional experience. Even though our dress code is strict, it is varied and inclusive: it is not limited by financial means. For us, style is not just clothing. It’s a characteristic. It’s how you carry yourself and interact with the world, walking through it in open defiance of the standards set by regular, mundane society. Style pays no attention to your body size, shape, colour, background or gender. Just the clothes on (or off) your back, and the stuff in your step.
What do you want people to take away from a night out at Hotel @ 49A?
So many of us have felt ignored our whole lives, and as a result we’ve learned to move like nobody is watching. Hotel aims to curate a room full of people like that. We want our guests to leave with a sense of belonging, a tribe to call their own, and most importantly a fistful of martini and a hangover!
What song by a major pop girlie best encapsulates the Hotel @ 49A experience?
‘Clutter’ by Jess Winter.
Something that was clear from visiting Hotel @ 49A was that it intends to live beyond the nightlife scene. Can you tell us about your long term goals for it?
We wanted a space where our queer family can relax, meet up, and work beyond just the hours of the night. Hotel plans to do this by offering both free and paid memberships to our gracious host venue Martinez members, who are kindly allowing us to run this concept. This way the community has a space to access during the week.
We also want to find ways to give back to the community: our first initiative is Hotel to Help. Each night Hotel runs, we place a QR code linking to a mutual aid fundraiser on all of our menus and share on our Instagram; this way we can help put money directly in the hands of where it’s needed most. As we continue to grow and expand we really want to find more ways to work with charity, create opportunities for our community and give back to it.
We are seeing a rise in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric in the UK and US at the moment. Why is having safe spaces for LGBTQ+ people so important right now?
Because, whether we like it or not, our mere existence is a fucking political act. As queer people we share in an ancestry born not out of blood, but struggle and love. We have so many queer siblings whose names we will never know, to whom we owe so much. Sadly, this fight is still on-going and that’s bloody exhausting. Sometimes we just wanna put our heels on, sip on a glass of Clii and have a kiki. When just existing in a “straight world” is an act of resistance, we need spaces where we can just exist.
Tickets for Hotel @ 49A are available here.