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History

Origins

WoofClub is the brainchild of Steve Atkins.

Originally from Melbourne, Steve moved to Sydney in 1998 and was instantly welcomed into the community of dance parties, bars and clubs which then made Sydney famous worldwide.

Sydney was at a peak in its nightlife. Its inner neighbourhoods and residents interacted in a strong social scene around the areas of Oxford St, Darlinghurst, Surry Hills and further west to Newtown.

Bars such as Barracks and dance clubs such as Phoenix with DJs Mandy Rollins, Feisty, Buck Naked, Steve Sonius & Ben Drayton just to name a few, are part of the legendary club folklore of Sydney nightlife. They created a unique Sydney underground vibe not seen elsewhere.

It was in the dark, sweaty energies and pumping underground sets that club-goers embraced the idea of freedom to be themselves and to dissolve into the shared experience of comraderie and feeling like they belonged to a larger picture than their singular lives.

This was not Steve's first experience of Sydney nightlife. His first Sydney dance party was in 1994 at Leather Pride's "Inquisition" party where the extraordinary sense of freedom and celebration of the gay & lesbian leather community was something he'd not experienced before. 

It was in 2002, around the time of the Sydney Gay Games that the format for WoofClub was hatched on Crown St, Surry Hills. The idea was to combine the 2 levels of Headquarters Cruise Club with the venue originally located one floor above called Destiny's Cabaret. 

While the idea stayed in mind, nothing came of it until 3 years later when Steve moved back to Melbourne. There, WoofClub came to life at a durty leather cruise club called Club80. 

A chance meeting with the accountant for the venue set the wheels in motion for Steve to team up with two long-time friends : Jamie Perks who helped create the business plan and Peter Holmes who created the first website. 

After three meetings with Bill Saunders (the venue-owner), the go-ahead was given and the stage was set for an independent & pioneering dance party in the Club80 Dungeon.

Initially, the concept for the party was met with some resistance and it was regarded by some in the community with derision.

However after one party with less than 130 guests, Melbourne then supported it so wholeheartedly that news of its rise spread to Sydney, resulting in expansion later the same year. 

Such a venture can only be created with the participation of the right DJs, the right production staff and the generous help of volunteers and friends and WoofClub fortunately has always had a solid foundation of people who've supported it. 

It was the first Australian dance party to combine Sydney & Melbourne energies into one event and provide a matching experience in both cities on a high rotation basis.

Prior to this, Melbourne people went to Sydney for Sydney parties and vice-versa. Both cities were quite separate and at the time, it was noted that WoofClub helped break down the big divide.

We took Melbourne DJs to Sydney and Sydney DJs to Melbourne and at each of our events, "Australia's Cutest Door Chick" Lee Spence was there to greet the guys.

Conceived in Sydney and born in Melbourne, WoofClub spread to LA, Perth & San Francisco in 2007, followed by Adelaide & two Closing Parties for Lazy Bear Weekend USA in 2008 & 2009.

At the time, it became what some called "the biggest little party in the world" and after 10 years, WoofClub LA cemented its position as the only Australian dance party to ever establish itself in the USA. 

From big dance parties to smaller monthly club nights & bar nights with events such as "Dark Durty Hole", "DogPound" & "Bunker", WoofClub has diversified over the years.

In more recent times, we've also produced LGBTIQ leather & fetish events such as "Inquisition" for SLPA in 2013 & 14 plus "Leather Nation" (our own in-house production).

Despite the challenges of the last few years, WoofClub came back in 2023 with packed houses for its 18th Birthday & Nov 5 parties @ The (legendary) Peel in Collingwood. As we enter our 19th Year in 2024, we are back at The Peel for our first ever night party in that venue ; Friday Night Jan 26. WOOF!

Melbourne

Specifically a venue for cruising and other nocturnal interests, Club80 was notable in being described by international leather visitors as one of the most deluxe cruise clubs in the world (if not the most).

Established and owned by Melbourne legend, Mr Bill Saunders, it formed part of his 3-venue crown on Melbourne's Northside - those venues being The Laird Hotel, The Peel Nightclub and of course "80" as it was mostly known.

An astute business man, Bill expected thorough business plans and after 3 revisions, WoofClub was finally given the go-ahead for patrons to enter through the rear trough room and into the Berlin-style Dungeon space for WoofClub's launch event on Easter Sunday 2005.

While "80" with its sturdy 3 level century old construction was able to successfully mask any other noise from within, it couldn't hide a dance party "doof" in what's become a rapidly gentrifying area.

So after 2 events and because of Council noise restrictions, Woof was forced to innovate and move to pubs and clubs such as The GlassHouse Hotel, The Opium Den (formerly Star Hotel), Tunnel Nightclub , Royal Melbourne Hotel (the former Bourke Street West police Station), The Laird (where we introduced the first 2 dance events after a 15 year hiatus) and ABODE (Melbourne's pan-sexual leather & fetish club in St Kilda).

In September 2008 WoofClub came back to its original home, presenting one of the signature events "Going Back to Our Roots" for the inaugural/ revamped Melbourne Leather Pride.

Basically, we stuffed old car and truck inner tubes into every crevice we thought could possibly leak sound. We also brought in huge sound proofing drapes to cover all the roller doors which had been acting as a kind of drum and amplifying bass all over neighbouring streets.

Successfully managing noise leakage meant Club 80 again became home for us with a string of parties up to and including our 4th Birthday and 2009's Melbourne Leather Pride.

After the building was sold, the new owners replaced WoofClub with their own in-house production called "Trough X" effectively meaning Woof was again forced to rove to alternate venues.

Since that time we've used the psychedelic Wah Wah Lounge, The Goodhead Bar where we ran our 6th Birthday, The Monastery, Red Violin, the now defunct GH (Greyhound Hotel) for "Bill Posters Will Be Prosecuted" on our 8th Birthday. Our 9th & 10th Birthdays saw us take over The Peel in Collingwood, Geddes Lane (Inflation) for our 11th, and Brown Alley (Colonial Hotel) for our 12th Birthday.

For our 13th Birthday on Sat March 31, we took over the legendary 2 level Dimension Nightclub (formerly called "Dream") and followed that up with a string of events up to and including our 14th Birthday at Easter 2019.

In 2020 for our 15th Birthday, we secured another great Melbourne institution - "Seven Nightclub". Alas, COVID came along just 2 weeks prior to what was going to be a sold-out event and we were forced to postpone. We're back in 2023. Stay tuned.

Sydney

After a 6 month search for a suitable & available venue, Sydney's WoofClub started 9 months after Melbourne at Kinsela's Middlebar; a glitzy cocktail lounge turned dark and sexy with substantial stagings of black pallets. Most of the events at MiddleBar were held on Sunday afternoons as Recovery parties to the large (and then hugely successful) dance parties such as Sydney's Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras & Sydney Leather Pride's Inquisition. 

With "competition" only from long-time successes such as Indulgence at The Midnight Shift (which ran in the night-time time-slot), WoofClub gained a steady following in Sydney before finally moving to the subterranean (and somewhat abandoned) Phoenix for Sleaze Ball Recovery in October 2006.

The night named "Dark Durty Hole" was such a success that it, along with "Action" (a night run by fellow gay community promoters/organisers) became the start of a new once-a-month format at that venue which later saw the addition of other promoters such as the late Mandy Rollins with her highly successful "Dirty" nights, DJ Feisty (aka Mel Fitzpatrick), SLPA and Harbour City Bears to become Sydney's only Saturday night gay club operating weekly with non-commercial music in 2007.

In late 2007, Dark Durty Hole changed it's name to DogPound (a name originally used for WoofClub's Bar Night, upstairs at the now-defunct Newtown Hotel). We continue to run DogPound as special events at which we welcome our durty bitch mates in the gay community. 

During this time, the WoofClub dance party continued in Sydney at unlikely venues such as the high-tech arena: ARQ. Large amounts of hanging black rubber were brought in especially for the party and this was then to form the decor backbone of subsequent WoofClubs at the Oxford Hotel, the Midnight Shift & The Gaelic Glub. 

Sydney's 3rd birthday was held in Dec 2008 at the new Manacle (Sydney's leather bar formerly of Taylor Square - originally trading as The Barracks) and then again on various dates throughout 2009 (along with an appearance by the resurrected DogPound dance party) until Manacle finally closed its doors in October 2009.

Our premier Sydney event was held every year between February & March during Sydney's Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras. Held originally at Kinselas, our venues have changed over the years to include the infamous Rogues Nightclub aka "The Gaff", the Basement Club at The Imperial Hotel (the venue made famous by the movie Priscilla : Queen of the Desert) and most recently, Sydney's famous ARQ Nightclub and Beauchamp Hotel.

Due to the effect of the NSW Government Lockouts on venue availability from 2013-16, "WoofClub" itself was postponed for several years and replaced with a monthly club night called Bunker in the basement of The Beachamp Hotel. WoofClub then finally made a comeback at Trade (the former Headquarters Cruise Club) in 2018 & 2019.

Los Angeles

In 2006, LA local Daniel "Rover" Singer approached Steve to set up the LA version of WoofClub. 

With all marketing coming out of Australia and with Rover as our man on the ground, LA's launch party happened in March 2007 at Club Ivar on Hollywood Boulevard. It then made its residency at Hollywoodland Studios in North Hollywood with a few guest spots at Sanctuary Studios LAX & Passive Arts Studios.

Featuring high profile US DJs such as Tony Ruiz, Blaine Soileau, Mark Louque, Rich King, Pete Savvas & Ted Eiel, LA WoofClub also featured one of our Sydney residents, DJ George Roussos, WoofClub LA went on to run for 10 years - 7 of those with Rover at the helm and 3 with Bas Papa from Sydney as producer.

San Francisco & Lazy Bear Weekend

San Francisco's launch party happened at Club 8 a week after the Folsom St Fair in October 2007 with DJs Paul Goodyear and Phill Mezzatesta (Melbourne). 

Like its "Club 80" namesake in Melbourne, the first SF party went off and this resulted in Harry Lit inviting WoofClub to become the Closing Party for 2008's world-reknowned "Lazy Bear Weekend". 

DJs Ted Eiel (Chicago) & Jeff Lawrence (San Francisco) played the first year and then in 2009 we again saw Ted team up, this time with Sydney WoofClub's George Roussos.

The party, attended by 700 hot men is still amongst our largest to date.

Perth & Adelaide

There has also been one WoofClub in Adelaide and seven in Perth, Western Australia with Jason Patten at the helm. Launched at the now-defunct gay sauna Beaufort 565, Perth WoofClub then successfully made the move to one of the cities premier underground nightclubs in April of 2009 at Bar Open before returning n 2015 at the Rocket Room.

Spin-off Events

We've also produced spin-off events such as "Dark Durty Hole" (The Phoenix, Sydney - Members only), "DogPound V1" (The Newtown Hotel, Sydney (Mens Bar Night. "DogPound V2" (Various venues Sydney & Melbourne - mixed LGBTIQ), "Glory Hole/How Hard Launch" for the "SAM Project" (ACON Health, NSW).

We've also produced "Inquisition" 21st & 22nd Birthdays for Sydney Leather Pride Association (Annual LGBTIQ leather & fetish dance party), "Bunker" - our gay leather pop-up bar in Sydney & Melbourne plus our new event: "Leather Nation" (Mixed LGBTIQ leather & fetish dance party).

International Mr Leather

WoofClub has sponsored and/or supported 5 Australian candidates to the Internal Mr Leather Competition in Chicago.

These are...

2014 - Knut Larsen / Mr WoofClub Sydney

2014 - Master Domenic / Sydney Mr Leather (Leather Pride Assoc.)

2013 - Bas Papa / Mr WoofClub Sydney

2013 - Ben Riethmuller / Laird Leatherman (Laird Hotel, Melbourne)

2012 - Richard Savvy / Sydney Mr Leather (Leather Pride Assoc.)

Knut Larsen

Mr WoofClub Sydney 2014

Master Domenic

Sydney Mr Leather 2014

Bas Papa

Mr WoofClub Sydney 2013

Richard Savvy

Sydney Mr Leather 2012