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international news _ JONTY SKRUFFF _ 1st November, 2005

Simon Hobart, London's Key Alternative Club Pioneer Dies Suddenly

Seminal alternative club promoter Simon Hobart was found dead outside his house last weekend, after reports suggested he slipped and fell.

Through his ownership of Nag, Nag, Nag venue Ghetto, Trash Palace and gay indie night Popstarz, the hugely influential 41 year old was one of the key characters behind the rise of London's alternative/ electro scene as well as being one of its most popular.

Simon first made a massive impact on UK club land in the mid 80s, running gothic alternative, anything-goes warehouse party the Kitcat, which drew hundreds of freaks, hookers and skinheads to Westbourne Grove every Saturday night, at what was the only regular all-nighter of the time. The post-punk electro-rock club was so genuinely underground and edgy that few journalists or non-freaks dared enter (wisely so), and set a template for Simon's clubs that he would never stray far from.

"My nightclubs are for people with more sense than money and more style than most," Simon told the Sunday Times when they anointed him king of their made up 'bad taste clubbing' scene in a typically frivolous piece March 2004. "They're for people of all shapes and sizes, who are united in one thing: having fun. Nobody with attitude gets through the door."

The modest and hard working promoter applied the same philosophy to his wildly successful gay indie night Popstarz, which he launched in the mid 90s after being inspired by the conformity of London's regular gay scene, he told the Observer in the same year.

"I remember feeling alienated by the homogenous drugs and sex-obsessed gay scene," he said.

"The emphasis (for Popstarz) would be on boozing, not cruising, as an antidote to the mainstream gay scene, with its muscle marys or crass, boy band-loving gay teenagers."

His greatest success and mainstream recognition, however came from Nag, Nag, Nag, in which he played a key role, said Jo De Freq in an interview with Skrufff last year

"For the first four or five months the club was consistently quite dead. We moved to the Ghetto after five weeks and it was dead there too for the first few months which put us under more pressure, because it was a better venue, with a proper owner, promoter and sound system but there was still nobody there," she recalled.

"But thankfully Simon was really supportive and he was willing to be patient and gave us advice. Then suddenly after 6 months it filled up. I used to joke, 'You know what, one day they'll be a queue out there' and we'd all laugh but then after it got full for the first time it was rammed every week."

Nag, and all Simon's many other clubs and associated nights are set to continue, his family promised this week, in a statement posted on Ghetto's website.

"Simon left instructions and it is the wish of his family that his clubs, and those run by other promoters in his venue, should continue," his family said.

"With his clubs and events he has touched and changed many lives, and made thousands of people happy. It was Simon's wish, and it is also the wish of his family, that Simon's legacy continue after his death. Therefore Popstarz, Ghetto and Trash Palace will continue to operate and bring joy to all the people that Simon cared about so much. Simon's clubs will be run in the manner and style that Simon wanted," they added.

http://www.nagnagnag.info ('There will be a night in celebration of Simon Hobart at The Scala on Fri 4th November as a fund raiser for MacMillan Cancer relief. More details to follow). (Jonty Skrufff)