R.I.P. The Black Cap - Thank you George Antony

Sunday 12th April 2015, the iconic Black Cap closed its doors for the last time. Social media has been awash with opinions and theories but as someone who has performed, promoted, directed and DJed there over the past eighteen months, here's an insiders view.

The Black Cap eighteen months ago was a very different place. Numbers were down, it hadn't been turning a profit for years, the manager was caught with his fingers in the till and it was starting to be seen as a bit naff. But assistant manager George Antony saw potential in the old girl and gave her the boost and revamp she deserved. With an enthusiastic knowledge of past and present scenes, he brought in new promoters, DJs, performers and in those past eighteen months, the Cap exceeded its targets and reclaimed it's reputation as a destination for a wide variety of fantastic queer club and cabaret nights. 
But she desperately needed a new frock. The toilets were a mess, the sound system and tech was a source of constant frustration, the dressing room was a dump. The only way for to raise capital for said frock was to redevelop. Plans were designed to destroy the first floor Shufflewick Bar and Regina Fong beer garden to become flats. The ground floor would have been widened and restored to how it was over 20 years ago (when both the bar and club were on the ground floor) and given an entire revamp. The money from the proposed flats would have been enough to secure the loan needed for the makeover.
There were previous planning proposals put forward to build flats on it's sacred ground and I wrote to the council protesting it myself but this was a completely different situation. The venue needed to regenerate to survive at all.
Well meaning but ill informed academics and armchair activists who hadn't done their homework decided no, no, no. How dare they squash yet another LGBT venue? Usually I'd wholeheartedly agree as but this was an all or nothing situation. Redevelop or no Cap. Strong hints were given but ignored. Planning permission denied. It's over. She's gone. Sold. R.I.P. The Black Cap and over 50 years of LGBT and queer heritage.

I've known about this for a while but out of respect for the staff and people whose livelihood depended on working there, I kept my mouth shut. The company that owned the venue, Faucet Inn Limited have done a hideous job with this. They didn't make any public statements until today's official closing announcement. They've kept their lips firmly shut during procedures, not attended planning permission meetings or engaged with those concerned about it's future. This could have been avoided if they'd opened the channels of communication with those who work at, attend and love the place or publicly told people that if she were to get permission to be restored to her former glory she would have survived. Albeit with sound proofed flats above, something that worked for one of their other venues, Comptons.

The old girl's gone but had a cracking send off with the final weekend featuring Myra Dubois night Naff on Friday, my queer disco night POP! on Saturday and Sunday's final event being the ReResurrection hosted by Virgin Xtravaganzah.
The final show was incredible with every performer bringing their A game. It was an honor to be asked to join the lineup and sang something I thought fitting and a nod to London's queer heritage; Soft Cell's Say Hello, Wave Goodbye. It was hard to get through without breaking down as the whole place has become more than a disco, but an incredible family.
As a respectful nod to 50 years of glorious drag heritage, legend of The Black Cap stage, Mrs Moore was invited to close the show, belting out 'I Am, What I Am'. All performers took to the stage to sing Happy Birthday to George, we had a big cry and group hug and a final dance of the bar to Like A Prayer.

To those bitching they weren't asked to perform one last time, this wasn't about you. The night had to go ahead as programmed with only a few knowing the situation (out of respect for the staff and their futures). Mrs Moore respectfully and fantastically represented the heritage of the Cap, so shush.
To the armchair activists who should have read the planning proposals properly, meh.
To Faucet Inn, fuck you.
To gentrification and sanitisation of the LGBT scene and London in general, a massive go fuck yourself.

Black Cap legend HIH Regina Fong (do your homework kids) has haunted the venue for years. The times I've felt her presence was never more clear than over the weekend, she's fucking livid. Whatever generic glass fronted gentrified piece of shit it becomes, I hope she curses your genitals.

To close, there are so many wonderful people to thank in the creative and financial success of The Cap over the past eighteen months but there's one who worked selflessly, enthusiastically and often without sleep. He paid for missing stock from of his own wallet, worked the door, behind the bar, booking events, attending to social media, encouraging new talent, sorting tech, placating stroppy drag queens (cough) and genuinely gave a shit about the very bones and future of the venue and not his ego. George Antony.
She would have faded away without you. You made sure she went out with a fucking bang.
George, thank you. 


P.S. For those asking why I didn't release this information sooner, I didn't out of respect for the staff and their futures. They have moved and been given jobs within Faucet Inn. I would suggest going to say hello to them but that would be supporting an underhand and deceitful company, so don't.

P.P.S. Sorry if I've offended anyone other than Faucet Inn.