When legendary London rock haunt the Crobar announced its closure, fans around the world contributed to an online raffle to win big prizes like Dave Grohl’s drum cymbal to help pay the bar staff who found themselves permanently out of work, raising £20,000.
It kickstarted the campaign to reopen the bar, collaborating with the #SaveOurVenues, #WeMakeEvents, #SaveSoho and #LetTheMusicPlay social and community movements. As the pandemic continues to claim the existence of many more beloved music venues and bars across the country, The Crobar fan base is doing all it can to meet the target, as many see it as a ‘home-away-from-home.’
Documentary filmmakers Lucy Brown and Andrew Wildey put a callout to people about their time in Soho and The Crobar to discover what the area and the bar means to them. They were joined by fellow filmmaker and community activist, Paul Atherton, who gave a brief tour of Soho’s prominent sites, adding to the #SaveSoho conversation and movement.
The documentary – Music When the Lights Go Out premiered on Wednesday 27 January and you can check it out here:
“We had a huge response of photos, videos, and stories from people who miss The Crobar and who used to party in the ‘Golden Triangle of Rock ‘n’ Roll’,” says Lucy. “Reading the messages from people remembering better times really struck us with what was being lost to the pandemic. I think everyone knows and loves a place like The Crobar.”
“As Richard says in the film – it’s not about the four walls, it’s about the people, and I think now we should take an “all hands on deck” attitude when it comes to supporting the live music venue industry.”
From its legendary jukebox, to the “best corridor that is a bar”, the quirks of The Crobar made it a popular hotspot for even the most unlikely of visitors – like Justin Beiber and Lady Gaga – and members of Iron Maiden and Metallica, Sourvein, Down, and Kid Rock.
And who can forget those toilets?
Everyone who ever went to The Crobar always had a tale or two to tell and it was always easy to make friends. So much so that The Crobar hosted three weddings and had to start selling Crobar baby grows and bibs.
Richard Thomas, the proprietor of The Crobar, adds: “I’ve been here for 20 years and am so overwhelmed by the support. When Lucy approached me to do a documentary about the bar and Soho, I was overcome with emotion as it just demonstrated to me again exactly how important it is to reopen in this area so that people can see their friends and rock families again – and get home safely.”
“Soho is the epicentre for many to travel to their respective homes, safely, which is another reason why The Crobar needs to remain here.”
“I have to admit, I did a little dance when we hit £40,000, as it gave me hope and more determination to save Soho and reopen The Crobar,” continues Richard. “I know we meant a lot to our customers, but I didn’t realise just how much! People want a proper Rock ‘n’ Roll bar to remain in Soho. Otherwise, where else will they go?”
“There is so much history here and it does feel to many that all roads in London lead to this area,” concludes Richard. “Rock and Roll will never die, but if we don’t fight to keep its integrity and quirkiness, then we will just fall victim to faceless gentrification eradicating everything Soho has stood for: tolerance and individuality, love, and Rock ‘n’ Roll for all.”
To donate to the Crobar Crowdfunder click here.