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August 2, 2023

New digs: My Lover Cindi pours Shotz

The LGBTQI+ nightclub and performance space is taking over the hallowed halls of a former alternative scene haunt in September.

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  • Words: David Simmons
  • Photos: Christopher Arblaster
  • Main image: My Lover Cindi co-owners Kate Toone and Rachel Hosking

After two-and-a-half years operating around the back of a co-working space on Flinders Street, the co-owners of My Lover Cindi are stepping out of the alley.


My Lover Cindi is hosting a Flinders St farewell party. Get your tickets here.

The performance space and nightclub will take over a vacant premises on Pirie Street that once housed late-night emo favourite Shotz and briefly a pool hall called Minnesota Fats.

When CityMag visits the site to interview married co-owners Kate Toone and Rachel Hosking the space is in flux. The pair are in the middle of giving the interior a fresh lick of paint, there’s remnants of stuff from previous tenants scattered around the bar and back office, and scaffolding dominates the centre of the room.

By the time the venue hosts its launch party on 2 September, the building should look very different, but also familiar to those who frequent the current My Lover Cindi.

“We’ll be bringing everything that we’ve established at Cindi’s – not just in terms of vibe and fit out, but ideologies and things like our non-alcoholic offerings, the productions we’re currently working on, all of our staff,” Hosking told CityMag.

“We want to really reassure people that Cindi’s is staying the same. Kate and I are running the business with a team of incredible staff, producers and DJs.”

At the core of the My Lover Cindi ideology is a commitment to accessibility. This is on display as soon as you enter the building – a new stage with a wheelchair ramp has been tailor-made for the club, and the co-owners have altered the height of the bar to ensure that anyone can order a drink.

“One of the main reasons we opened in the first place was that we would try and plan nights out with friends that use mobility aids and it was just so limited in what they could physically access,” Toone said.

“There wasn’t a place we could go where we could dance to the music that we wanted to hear and feel safe with our community and all of our friends.

“We strive for accessibility for the most people possible – having things like a separate wheelchair-accessible toilet and the ramp up to the stage…we didn’t have the room to do that in the previous space.”

The new My Lover Cindi stage

The new My Lover Cindi stage. Photo: Christoper Arblaster / CityMag

With this move, My Lover Cindi also hopes to be more accessible in terms of simply being out and proud on Pirie Street, rather than tucked away at the end of an alley behind a co-working space.

The venue’s capacity will expand from 120 at the current site to 200 on Pirie Street. It’ll also open on Sunday nights, and the duo even plan on doing some daytime trade for those that crave an LGBTQI-friendly space but would prefer to head out while the sun’s out.

“We’ve jumped on a couple of markets and clothing swaps – community events that appeal to people that maybe don’t necessarily want to go out and experience nightlife or they want to take a break from nightlife,” Toone said.

“Historically, queer spaces have been night spaces and that’s shifting which is really nice. We’re looking at doing things in the daytime so that people have somewhere to go during the day because not everyone likes to go out at night.”

My Lover Cindi co-owners and David Simmons

My Lover Cindi co-owners sit down with CityMag’s David Simmons. Photo: Christopher Arblaster / CityMag.

Rachel and Kate are also keenly aware of the legacy of the space they’re inheriting. Shotz was a beloved venue, known for dirt-cheap beers and its sticky floors, and was a place that revellers would head to at the end of the evening.

The iconic black and white floors remain (“they’ve never been cleaner”), and the pair plan on combining the spirit of the venue with what My Lover Cindi has created.

“We’d like to have a bit of nostalgia – a bit of a nod to what this space was,” Hosking said.

“It was such a formative time for a lot of us young emos and young queers, and we’d like to pay homage to that, expand on that as well with our events.”

My Lover Cindi is hosting a Flinders Street farewell fundraiser on 19 August before the final move to Pirie Street. Get your tickets here.

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