There are new hopes for the reopening of the Black Cap, the iconic gay pub and cabaret venue on Camden High Street, which closed its doors in April 2015.
Members of the Black Cap Foundation community campaign group to reopen the venue met representatives of Kicking Horse, who own the freehold of the Black Cap site. Representatives of Camden council and the GLA culture-at-risk team were also present.
All sides agreed to work together to identify a new, third-party leaseholder to reopen the Black Cap as an LGBT+ venue with cabaret performance at its heart as soon as possible.
Black Cap Foundation director Alex Green said:
“We’re thrilled at this agreement. This is a crucial step towards our goal of reopening the Black Cap, and we welcome the cooperation of the freeholders and the support of Camden council and the GLA in making that a reality.
“We’ve always believed the Black Cap’s unique, irreplaceable legacy of community and culture is worth fighting for, and can’t wait to see how it will be reinvented next.”
A spokesperson for Kicking Horse said:
“We very much hope to find the leaseholder with the right vision, experience and resources to begin a brand new chapter for this world-famous venue.”
The Black Cap has been a space for the gay community since before partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967. Known as the ‘Palladium of Drag’, it has hosted residencies by groundbreaking performers such as Lily Savage, Mrs Shufflewick and Regina Fong, after whom the pub’s first-floor Shufflewick Bar and Fong Terrace are named. More recently, it was home to the Family Fierce, who showcased acts from RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Since the 2015 closure, the Black Cap Foundation has maintained a weekly Saturday afternoon vigil outside the pub, celebrating the venue’s past and sharing stories with local residents while campaigning for its reopening.
The Black Cap’s new leaseholder will take on a 25-year lease for the five-storey building at 171 Camden High Street. The site has Asset of Community Status and sui generis planning use class and requires significant capital expenditure.