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Wednesday 14 April 2010

Meet Kim Lucas: Lesbian scene queen

Posted in: People, Events
By Kitten Power - 13th April 2010

Kim Lucas
This weekend something rather incredible is going to happen in Auckland. Candy bar, a dedicated lesbian venue, will open its doors.

Behind the K' Rd bar is a team of scene-setters led by one incredibly motivated woman: Kim Lucas.

Originally a New Zealander, Lucas has spent the past 30 years "tirelessly creating a scene in London and Brighton". She has plenty to show for it.The 47-year-old entrepreneur and club promoter was dubbed "the Queen of Soho" by a local London gay rag and "Scene Queen of the Century" by lesbian magazine DIVA.

Lucas first started promoting in the late 80s, creatinga string of popular girls' clubs including Tantrum, Passion Pit, Betty's and Flirt Sauna. The flagship Candy bar was launched in Soho in 1996. The London Evening Standard once voted it as one of the top ten celebrity bars in London. Cast members from The L Word, Martina Navratilova, Rupert Everett, Naomi Campbell, The Pet Shop Boys, Sir Ian McKellen and the late Alexander McQueen among the guests it can name-drop.

It also boasts a mind-boggling list of awards and plaudits for being a scene-maker, in both gay and mainstream media. Time Out London Magazine's Top 100 bars guide described it as "a real breakthrough: a gay women's bar with an emphasis on fun and coolness… The Candy bar seems to have far more energy than any other gay bar in London: on our visit it was bustling, friendly, and vibrant, as if the women who packed out the place knew they were onto a good thing.”

But it hasn't all been smooth sailing.  In 2008 Lucas and her original crew left the Soho venue after "a series of events found the premises owned by people the girls could not work with".

It came as the economic downturn saw 40 bars a week closing in the UK, leading to the decision to shut up shop in Soho and Brighton for the meantime until the British economic climate improves. Lucas then eyed the more positive economy in New Zealand and Australia. After an offer from Naval & Family owner Wayne Clark, she made the decision to bring Candy bar to Auckland.

"And it's fallen into place beautifully since then, so it was meant to be."

Lucas is described in her own PR as having "truly formidable character". Anyone who meets her will immediately pick up on her immense determination. They will simultaneously sense her drive and passion for creating a space for lesbians to be who they are, whoever they are.

There may be those in the community who are wondering if Candy bar can be pulled off. Lucas faced similar doubts when she launched the Soho venue in 1996, with questions over whether there was a market demand for such an ambitious venue. Her response is simple: "A scene is only going to happen if you create it”.

In Candy bar, the lesbian and bisexual community is set to find an all-inclusive fixed community space, whether for meeting women, networking, swilling a cocktail or hitting the dancefloor.

And it's not just for Auckland – Lucas is determined to get women from across the country to Candy bar, by making holiday packages at varying degrees of cost available.

The buzz already seems to have caught on, with Candy bar pulling Facebook friends at the speed of lightning and the hype around its opening weekend proving the talk of the town.

Lucas is excited by the response so far.

"The vibe has been so positive and amazing. We will make it successful because everyone is getting involved and being so supportive, and we are attempting the impossible - providing something for everyone. I do love a challenge."

Candy bar has been clearly marked as the place to be this weekend for women who love women. So gear up ladies, it's going to be one huge weekend.

Auckland's Candy bar has its grand opening nights this Friday and Saturday, after which it will open from Thursdays to Sundays. It is situated above Naval & Family on K' Rd and will be run by ex-Candy bar Soho manager Emily.

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Kitten Power - 13th April 2010