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Losing Urge "a shame" for Akl and K' Rd

Tue 2 Dec 2014 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback View at NDHA

The impending closure of New Zealand’s longest-running gay bar is being described as a sad loss, and one which is raising questions about the future viability of gay venues. After 17 years nestled at the western end of K’ Rd, catering to bears and leather men and their admirers, Urge Bar will close at the end of February. Current owners Paul Heard and Alan Granville, who took over in 2005, say big increases in rent, insurance and even music rights have made the small venue's future unviable. The bar will go out with a roar though, with a series of events signalled in the three months it has left. Dj James Leuii with Urge co-owner Paul Heard Regular Urge DJ James Leuii says it’s a shame for the bar to close down. “It seems like it’s been there forever,” he says. “I have been DJing there for a long time and have really enjoyed the atmosphere. It has been such a cool place and I got a lot of work through being the resident DJ. I am really sorry to see it go.” Lgbti community leader and Christchurch-based bear Richard Tankersley has been a regular Urge patron over the years, and says the bar had reach well beyond Auckland. He agrees with Leuii that its closure will be a real loss. “I’ve been aware of the hints of this for some time and I really regret that it’s closing. I understand that the boys have done absolutely everything that they can to try and keep it open.” Tankersley says losing Urge is a shame for Auckland, and a real shame for K’ Rd. “It’s not a large venue, but the types of rent that people are now charging uptown makes you wonder what the future is for K’ Rd, whether the gentrification of that is going to drive clubs out in the way that they really have been driven, to a large extent, out of Ponsonby.” A series of closures mean Auckland has few remaining exclusively gay venues, with K’ Rd’s dance and drag-driven club Family Bar the mainstay. A series of closures mean Auckland has few remaining exclusively gay venues, with K’ Rd’s dance and drag-driven club Family Bar a mainstay, along with the gay-run Eagle Bar and drag cabaret restaurant/bar Caluzzi. Ponsonby has Shanghai Lil’s where Poof once was, but over the past few years Auckland has lost a number of venues, including Legend, Kamo/DNA, Naval and Family, Switch Bar, Finale and Dot’s. Hamilton’s only gay bar Shine closed in March, while Wellington has stalwarts S  

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Tuesday, 2nd December 2014 - 2:01pm

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