Adelaide’s latest bar was bustling with patrons on its opening night, prioritising accessibility and inclusivity. (Image source: Alycia Millar)
By Alycia Millar | @AlyciaMillar
Friday night saw the opening of Adelaide’s latest nightlife addition and ‘queer utopian night space,’ My Lover Cindi.
Located at the east end of Flinders Street, My Lover Cindi hopes to create an accessible and inclusive space to accommodate all members of the queer community on Kaurna land.
Co-owners Kate Toone and Rachel Hosking developed the idea after noticing a lack of accessible queer-friendly venues in Adelaide.
“We saw a lack of a good space that we wanted to go out and party in and that our friends could come along to if they were using mobility aids, so we thought why not just make something,” Kate said.
Kate and Rachel were motivated to establish a venue that recognises the deficits in Adelaide’s current nightlife, and then try to fill some of those gaps.
The co-owners compiled community-based research in 2019 to ask people what stops them from going out, to find out what a venue needs to be accessible unlike other night spaces.
They found that making changes to what people expect from a usual night out can make it a lot more accessible for more people, such as not using strobe lighting or smoke machines.
The bar aims to be as ethical and respectful as possible to cater for all, with the opening night starting with a Welcome to Country and Auslan interpreted speeches.
“It’s about being as ethical as possible in the business that we can be and being accessible to people who are otherwise marginalised, whether that’s because of disability or because of racial politics or identity as a whole,” Kate said.
The name ‘My Lover Cindi’ pays homage to American television drama The L Word, while acknowledging the long running tradition of historically gay bars being named after women.
Prior to the opening weekend, My Lover Cindi released access and ally guides on their Instagram, to educate patrons about how to be mindful of other people.
Rachel and Kate recognised the challenges of finding a venue to successfully include all members of the queer community, particularly when most venues have little space for mobility aids or require the use of stairs.
“It’s been quite challenging to find somewhere that will be even potentially appropriate to fit the brief for what we’re trying to do,” Rachel said.
The venue eventually came to them thorough Renew Adelaide, a not-for-profit organisation that allows businesses to have a flexible rent-free space in the CBD to trial a new business concept.
Formerly Adelaide’s German Club, the venue has a cosy and eclectic feel, with some of the relics from the German Club that may still be spotted by the observant partygoer.
The menu boasts an extensive range of both non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks, plus a variety of vegan and vegetarian toasties, all at a reasonable price range with occasional drink specials.
As self-proclaimed ‘perpetual students’ Rachel and Kate understand the importance of fair pricing.
“We absolutely understand what it’s like to be living a student lifestyle and are trying to be accommodating of that,” Rachel said.
Partygoer Isabella Kelly said places like My Lover Cindi are vital to the future of Adelaide’s nightlife.
“I think it’s great there are more queer and accessible spaces opening and giving people a safe space to go and meet new people and have a boogie,” Isabella said.
When asked about the bar’s tagline ‘queer utopian night space’, Rachel and Kate commented on their focus on inclusivity and community.
“It’s not gay, it’s not lesbian, it’s queer… you don’t have to pigeon-hole yourself to fit anywhere. It’s not just a bar… it’s all that covert, cultural stuff that we’re also offering in terms of night space,” Rachel said.