Dr Kate discusses a recent and very significant acquisition of the State Library – a collection of 270 posters relating to Connections Nightclub – the longest running LGBT nightclub in the Southern Hemisphere.
Located at 81 James Street Northbridge, Connections Nightclub exists in a building that had originally been used as a cabaret club called The Top Hat. In 1975 it re-opened it as a gay nightclub. Tim Brown began managing the venue in 1991 and instigated the venue's rebranding by regularly redecorating it, including more diverse staffing and in diversifying the entertainment in the club.
Tim Brown recorded an oral history with Criena Fitzgerald in 2019. Tim speaks about his experiences of the club as a young gay man attending the club for the first time, as well as his growing involvement in it as a staff member, manager and then owner, and the steps he took to shift the club’s brand and image towards a more inclusive and welcoming space for all, including staffing and entertainment. Listen to the recordings or read the transcript of Tim Brown’s oral history.
A strong element of Connections’ legacy within the broader cultural scene of Perth and Northbridge is the music that is played at the club. Electronic and dance music has always had a strong link to various LGBTQIA+ communities as nightclubs have often been the spaces in which those communities have been able to safely gather and express themselves, and whilst Connections has championed musical movements and styles readily associated with queer culture, it has also incorporated broader trends in dance music culture into its soundtrack. This fluidity in terms of not only the musical breadth that the club music programming covers, but also the diversity of the entertainers who work in the club are arguably part of its success as an inclusive and welcoming space.
The acquisition of the Connections posters is a significant addition to the State Library ephemera collections. The Connections poster collection includes hand-drawn graphics, gritty photo-realism, slick digital art and a huge range of visual styles in-between. Similarly, the range of events captured in this sample epitomizes the club's ethos of diversity. Search for PS02423 on the State Library catalogue to see the full collection.
The State Library is determined to diversify its collections with the many voices and stories of the WA community. The collection currently holds few stories representing LGBTQIA + communities, and we'd like to call on you to help us rectify this by donating your photographs, videos, posters, flyers and other material to the collection. If you can help, contact us via our Collections Offers Form.
Recorded live on ABC Radio Perth on 24 November 2020.