Image for Newtown Hotel - The Official Word

Newtown Hotel - The OfficialWord

The closure of the Newtown Hotel has the Sydney gay community abuzz. What is behind the closure? How long will it be closed for?

“We’ve spent the last few months trying to negotiate the re-leasing of the premises, but those negotiations came to a sudden end last week and unfortunately we were shut out of the building on Saturday,” says David McHugh, the current operator of The Newtown. “The owners didn’t agree with the terms put forward. We had no understanding of situation until Saturday.”

The matter now has to go through the courts. David says the case could take up to two years to be resolved. “The bottom line is that the Newtown Hotel will not trade, which is tragic. It’s a shock to us all, the staff there have done a tremendous job. For things to come to such an abrupt ending, well, it was a rude shock for all involved.”

McHugh says that they own the license, so they do have the option of moving to another location on King Street. “It’s an option but it takes time. Trading in the current premises can’t happen until decision is handed down by the courts. We’re at a stalemate.”

According to McHugh, the current agreement between the owner and landlord means that the building cannot operate as a licensed premises for the next five years. “They may have some grand plans that we’re not aware of. Rest assured, we’ll be fighting for what’s ours. Once we’re aware of what their agenda is, we’ll be fighting it.

“The most tragic thing is that it’s such a loss – about thirty people have lost employment, it was a tight knit family that worked there, it was a close community. Plenty of bars come and go, but Newtown Hotel was pretty special.”

So much for Newtown becoming the alternative to Oxford Street.

Comments arrow left

andygisby said on the 5th Nov, 2007

Not since the closing of the iconic Albury Hotel, have we seen such a loss.
Whether you were into the Newtown or not, the fact remains we have less venues yet again !

Christian Taylor

Christian Taylor said on the 5th Nov, 2007

you can actually now count on ONE HAND the number of gay venues operating in sydney.

think about it. how sad is that?

Tim D

Tim D said on the 5th Nov, 2007

Man that is just so harsh. You've got to feel for everybody in this situation: the staff, the punters, the owners, Newtown. What a smack in the face.

danny corvini

danny corvini said on the 5th Nov, 2007

Can't trade as a licensed venue for FIVE YEARS? WTF?


Zakalwe said on the 5th Nov, 2007

This is quite a shock I must say. The Newtown has been there for so long I thought it would never disappear.


Ruffnut said on the 5th Nov, 2007

It's called gentrification.........owner most probably has got a better offer from
Fitness First!!!! LOL.....

Will the Imperial re-open or will it die a slow death in the courts?

What next then? Mardi Gras folding after 30 years?

What is GAY Sydney coming too? It's getting too embarrassing telling OS visitors everything is shutting down and to skip Sydney in favour of Melbourne on their next trip downunder.....


mikeysyd said on the 5th Nov, 2007

Yes. I was there on Friday night when they made the announcement that Saturday was to be the last night. Quite a shock. If I understand the article correctly, the 5 year no other licensed premises restriction may make the current operator's negotiating position stronger. We'll see. It has been a grim few years. The Albury, the Beauchamp, the Impy (though hopefully only temporary) the moving of Gilligans underground, Manacle... So much for Sydney being one of the top 5 gay cities in the world...


ozwolfe said on the 5th Nov, 2007

Soo sucks. Thursday nights with Vanessa and Seymour's strip competition is the best night out in this city. Jam packed, free to get in and on a school night.
It will be missed.
Hope the friendly staff are looked after.... This is sad news.


dreadcircus said on the 5th Nov, 2007

I left Melbourne 3 years ago because Sydney was the place to be. I seriously can't believe the Newtown is gone. I walk past it everyday and pop in for a drink with my bf. It's going to be so sad walking past the place and seeing the doors closed.

My condolences to the staff, they're all fantastic and hope they all land on thier feet safely. Arrgggg I'm now becoming angry!!


jayboy said on the 5th Nov, 2007

I can't believe it, first I've heard about it, what with the Imperial closed for renovations and also goign to court about the proposed number of people on the balcony, and now the Newtown shutting, there is no alternative to Oxford Street, which is sad really.


jackie87 said on the 5th Nov, 2007

It sucks terribly, The Newtown was the first gay bar I had ever set foot in and nowhere else in Sydney had its carefree, non-plastic vibe. Please somebody buy it and bring it back!


AussieG said on the 5th Nov, 2007

Well there's now a huge gap in the market for a gay bar in Newtown.
(I don't count The Bank, because it's feels like a straight pub in Paddington at the best of times).

We knew the gay scene had gone to sh*t in Darlinghurst... who knew Newtown would crumble so quickly as well.

Maybe Melbourne really IS the place to be


acidjasmine said on the 5th Nov, 2007

Well hopefully another venue will take up the challenge but I agree with skiwi. The Newtown was a dump.

Stevie Boy

Stevie Boy said on the 5th Nov, 2007

Seriously what is it with gay bars and all these licensing/lease problems? Why doesn't this happen to Havana/DCM/Mylk??? We cannot let a city with one of the best gay parties in the world, renown for being a gay city, crumble like this. Surely there must be a few budding entrepreneurs out there interested in reinvesting into Sydney's gay scene?


agentk said on the 5th Nov, 2007

My friends and I were there for the last night, and we were really surprised when they announced that they were closing and it was the last night! All my friends are newtown boys, and are extremely sad and disappointed. :(


judes1974 said on the 5th Nov, 2007

Hhmm... if only a bunch of us could get some money together and look and opening up our own drag/gay venue in Newtown! Even when the Impy re-opens, one is never enough. Where's the choice!?!? :(


FlipX[disabled] said on the 5th Nov, 2007

I hope the new licensing changes help to move things along in enlivening the scene...


NSM33 said on the 5th Nov, 2007

With the Imperial closed for rennovations, this is a big blwo for the inner west gay community. I hope it gets sorted out soon...


wombatfromparis said on the 5th Nov, 2007

this city sucks at the moment ... let's all move to Melbourne!!!


remix_addict said on the 5th Nov, 2007

Perhaps all of us who would normally go to the Newie can just set up camp (pun intended) at the Bank. We can take over a straight venue for once instead of the other way around :-)


DeepBlueDreamer said on the 6th Nov, 2007

But the Bank is just too big. It's not at all intimate...I sometimes think I'd get lost in there on a drunken night :eek:

But if it's a takeover, count me in. Set a night (other than the coming weekend - busy with stuff.) I'd be happy to get few of my friends and drop-in.


muzzbear said on the 6th Nov, 2007

after nearly 30 years of trying to stop our community being marginalised firstly as criminals and as mental unbalanced; now by economic manipulation moving to another city is not going to be an option... camping out in the bank is a good idea, if their management are willing to accept being a "gay pub" :)


Dock said on the 6th Nov, 2007

This sounds a little bit like in Adelaide where the only gay and lesbian pub recently closed down with no official explanation.

Design Dyke

Design Dyke said on the 6th Nov, 2007

Well, any development application that goes to council for that venue will be vigorously protested - who's with me?!

"if their management are willing to accept being a "gay pub"" - it's a lesbian pub once a week so I'm sure they'll have no problems with a few poofs.


TheZeppo said on the 6th Nov, 2007

Coopers Arms upstairs. We can all take over the whole area LOL


taylor-dayne said on the 7th Nov, 2007

which one is the coopers arms? is it that really straight pub that's kinda across the road?


mjm078 said on the 7th Nov, 2007

Here is a word from the horses mouth.......

You know when i arrived in Sydney a few years back i met a guy and he took me on a date to the Newtown Hotel to show me what gay sydney was all about away from Oxford Street....I thought he was a bit weird at first but now i live not 2 blocks away from the old home of the Newtown.......Its sad to see it go - my bf and i would at least make it up there every weekend for at least a "drink" before we headed out for dinner or what ever we had planned for Friday or Saturday night and it was always our last stop on our way back home from dinner or what ever we were up to as well......

We were lucky enough to go there on Thursday night before it closed for one of our "drinks" the people who worked there a big thank you and the punters who drank there - thank you all as well......The Newtown was what community was all about - it certainly wasn't full of the hang ups you see else where in gay sydney.


danny corvini

danny corvini said on the 7th Nov, 2007

Don't give up boys and girls. Get together and write letters of protest to the council and don't stop until you think you're being heard and properly considered. Urge promoters and nightclub owners such as the Bank to do a night in Newtown. Urge community leaders to represent the community NOW. Arrive en masse to other pubs in the area - how fun would that be?
And if all else fails, go to the Marlborough Hotel on the corner of King & Missenden. My cousin is the manager and there's nothing like leaning on family in times of need..


kwickeemart said on the 7th Nov, 2007

our community is being screwed over again..... newton is becoming a gay ghost town and oxford st is becoming the second george st


hawaii60 said on the 7th Nov, 2007

stopped going to the Newtown some time ago because of constantly being heavied by gangs of roving butch lesbians, but very sad to see the iconic Vanessa Wagner left without a Thursday night venue...the gay boys don't seem to patronize the stylish Bank and the butch lesbians (skulling bottles of champagne and screaming in our ears, I kid you not!) have taken that bar over as well...looks like the Green Park is going to be full to the rafters this summer....


hawaii60 said on the 7th Nov, 2007

stopped going to the Newtown some time ago because of constantly being heavied by gangs of roving butch lesbians, but very sad to see the iconic Vanessa Wagner left without a Thursday night venue...the gay boys don't seem to patronize the stylish Bank and the butch lesbians (skulling bottles of champagne and screaming in our ears, I kid you not!) have taken that bar over as well...looks like the Green Park is going to be full to the rafters this summer....

danny corvini

danny corvini said on the 7th Nov, 2007

The Bank was always more a lesbian bar... and I think going to a stylish gay bar is exactly the opposite of what Newtown gays want.


TheZeppo said on the 7th Nov, 2007

Coopers arms is further down the road, the marly is almost opposite up on the corner of missenden, although wherever you go is full of bogans sadly :( Which is part of the reason to take it over and drive em out woooo :D Although we could all just get along nicely?

Of course the Union is riiiight down the other end and has a road leading right up to the imperial upon it's return next year


sab0tage said on the 7th Nov, 2007

What kind of a butch lesbian drinks champagne and screams? For shame!

Its a terrible thing that the Newtown has shut down, as i thought it would always be there. Unfortunately there seems to be a lack of suitable venues in newtown to move to: theyre either sterile and expensive or very straight or total dumps.

Fingers crossed the court case comes out in our favour although it doesnt help us in the short term.


LynDoh said on the 8th Nov, 2007

I want a pub where I don't have to dress up, somewhere casual and with character.

But it has to have a stage because I want DRAG!!! With the Impy shut and now the Newtown gone where do I go to get a fix of drag - Dykes love drag as well . Another income cut for the poor showgirls.

How about venturing slightly up Enmore Rd and take over the Sly Fox? It's much more fun than the Bank and they already do drag king acts. The only issue is it's a bit small.

Pity we couldn't buy the Queens Head on Enmore Rd. It's a dive and we could give it the makeover it deserves.


Lush said on the 9th Nov, 2007

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!, I wept with dispair when I found out. Seriously!! Ok I live in the "burbs but the Newtown has been my bastion of Me'ness for decades. The one place when I could go for a beer and not have to worry about bimbettes and straight boys chasing them. Or the doof dood noise of an over crowded dance floor. No-one cared that I look a bit...different. It was a place where one could sit at the bar. (that alone is a rarity) and just meet friends, make friends, or watch a good old fashioned drag queen trying not to fall of the tiny stage in 15cm Fredrick of Hollywood shoes. One could dress up or down. One could spend a hard day shopping and feel comfortable popping in to knock of a few coldies (and a beer) with a shit load of shopping and a backpack. Or one could slap on a full face throw on a nice hat and still hang out with shirtless guys and hard core dykes and not feel unloved. ( And I have them all in the back room at some point :-) Oh And I like Champagne AND beer if anyone is buying). Truly this is the end of the world. Oxford street stopped being "safe" and "friendly" for anyone over 25 years ago. I never got hassled in Newtown. I love Newtown. I just cant afford to live there right now. I would fully support any venue the guys choose to re-open and I'm really shirty with the owners for closing the doors like that. That is just Rude. and Stoopid. Newtown Festival would have been a good money spinner for the place. I Hope that everyone of the staff are going to be ok because they are the best staff in Sydney. I hope that some new great place can be found soon so we may all meet again, Dont know where, dont know when, but I know we'll meet again some sunny daaaaaaaaaaaaaay

Love Lush.

Brett Hayhoe

Brett Hayhoe said on the 11th Nov, 2007

A terrible loss indeed :(

Where do I go now for a drink on Thursday night [this coming one] when I am in Sydney for the NAPWA AGM? We always stay at the Rydges on Missendon Road, so obviously Newtown is the place in which we drink/socialise....and Oxford Street is hardly a short walk from there :(