We're raising money to help us with the start-up costs of CAMP, a new bar and community space for LGBTQIA+ people in Margate.
by CAMP Margate in Margate, Kent, United Kingdom
CAMP is a queer bar and community space coming to 125 Northdown Road in Margate! We're talking queer socials, a karaoke booth, dancing, pop-culture quizzes, drag brunches, silly performance, alternative entertainers, panel talks and discussions, LGBTQIA+ film screenings and so much more. We want for CAMP to be a safe space for everyone – a home away from home.
We're a group of five friends, siblings and partners – Sophie, Jess x2, Derek and Olivia. We live and work in Margate and have seen this place transform over the past five years. We want to create the safe space that we want to go to in Margate.
In 2019, Sophie and Jess found a flat with a shop beneath it, and planned to open a queer events space called CAMP. When the sale fell through, they were given a home at Margate Arts Club to throw queer parties and kept the CAMP flame alive. When they threw the first party – the 2020 Valentine's Day Ball – it became abundantly clear that silly queer fun in an inclusive safe space was what Margate wanted (and needed). After the party, the search to find a space continued, but then the pandemic turned the world upside down and everything stopped.
Fast forward to 2022, and the five of us were talking about the space we wished existed. Drunken conversations about opening a gay bar started to seem pretty solid in the cold light of day, so we decided to do it. CAMP was reborn, this time with five queers at the helm. We all threw our life savings in a pot and started to scout out a venue.
Reader, it did not go to plan.
We couldn't compete with another offer for the first venue we found. We put a great bid in for the second premises, but were told the landlord had wanted a "more established business" to take it. The third venue's landlord said that that CAMP wasn't in line with their vision for their building.
After the third rejection, it started to feel personal. In our desperation, we put a call out on Facebook for our community to help CAMP find a home. A friend reached out and said they had a space available and the next day we had the keys in our hands at last. We started work straight away, but with the major building works kicking off, we need your help...
Good question. We should start by saying we are investing £25k of our personal savings (all we have!) in CAMP. However, the venue we've found needs much more work than the others that we'd looked at. We love our new home (and there's space for the 1m mirror ball we've been hoarding for three years!), but this place needs serious building work and a full planning application on top of all of the other stuff you need to open a space like this.
We've done so much of the work ourselves and are working around the clock to open in time for summer (and Margate Pride!), but we need some extra help to get those doors open.
We understand that Crowdfunders get people talking, especially in places like Margate, but we truly believe that we are building somewhere that's going to serve the LGBTQIA+ community in Margate (and visiting queers!) for many years to come. This isn't a business that we expect to make much money – there are five of us, for a start. We're more concerned with what we can give to the queer community in Margate, and how we can create a legacy that we're really proud of.
We'll add your donations to our savings to carry out essential building work on the venue, including installing an accessible toilet. With more cash, we'll also be able to purchase our own equipment rather than lease it – this will help us to keep our overheads low and future-proof CAMP.
We're glad you asked! We don't want you to feel like you're not getting anything for your money, but we're also aware of over-stretching ourselves when we open by offering drinks or merch-based rewards. So we landed on a raffle – where you get your name in the hat once for every £1 you donate. The prize is a £1000 bar tab at CAMP once we open. Spend it on one night, spend it over a year, use it to hire the karaoke booth and throw a party for your friends – whatever!
A little disclaimer:
We're in the process of applying for planning permission to change the use of the unit from a retail unit to a drinking establishment, and then we will need to apply for a premises license. We've sought pre-planning advice and have no reason to believe that our application will be rejected, but there's a small chance that it will be! In that eventuality, we'll use funds raised to appeal the decision or (and we really hope this doesn't happen!) find a new venue and set up CAMP.
This project offers rewards in return for your donation. Please select a reward below.