Ku 20

Ku just turned 20 and to celebrate the team have launched their all new Ku 20 campaign, complete with new uniforms for the boys behind the bar. QX caught up with promoter Nieko and owner Gary to find out more.


Hi Nieko! How are you hun?

Incredible, thank you boys! It’s all happening at Ku at the moment. We’ve had a record-breaking year across the group, and are in plans for further expansions and re-investments throughout the next year. But right now, we’re gearing up for our World AIDS Day auction, and our big birthday.

What’s this Ku 20 campaign all about then?

Our “Ku 20” campaign is our latest, and most fashionable yet. It’s the launch of an entire year of “Ku 20” themed events, and upgrades, to Ku. “Life Is Your Catwalk” is our latest slogan, reflecting what we want our customer to feel from our bars. “Ku 20” is a celebration of being at the heart of gay London for TWO decades, and raising a glass to the next two. We’re pulling out all the stops for our Ku 20 World AIDS Day auction (30 Nov), where we hope to raise £20,000 for The Food Chain, followed by THE Ku 20 birthday bash on Saturday 5 December.

We hear the Ku boys have got a sexy new uniform?

Oh yes, they have! Continuing our partnership with CloneZone, hot Australian brand BCNÜ are the brand behind our new uniform – kitting all the Ku Bar Boys in premium (and very fitting) vests and sleeveless hoodies, adding to our more “catwalk” style.

Ku Bar is obviously a special place. What do you think makes it special?

I’ve always thought of Ku not just as a bar, but as a lifestyle, as a comfort, a “my first gay bar” and “we first met there”. Our priority is our customers, end of. We want to give everyone the best memories of Soho possible, and the ‘Ku Family’, from our DJs, to bar backs, managers and bar staff, everyone is a part of that experience – thank you to all our loyal customers to allow us to do this every day!

So, you’ve got three venues, and Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Britney are visiting London for the weekend. Who do you take to each one, and why?!

Lindsay would definitely be for KuKlub – late night clubbin’, topless bar boys and dirty music sounds right up her street. Paris for The Light Lounge – diamante and champagne? And Britney… well she’s got kids, so a little “heart of Soho” soiree at Ku soho, then home!

Sum up the Ku brand in three words.

Avante-Garde. Innovative. FABULOUS.

Lovely chatting! Thanks Nieko!

Gary Henshaw on Ku 20:

It’s something I am very proud to have achieved, 20 years is quite a milestone. I have lived in this great city for 25 years and most of my time here has involved running Ku. Ku opened its doors back in December 1995 on Charing Cross Road. We struck a cord with the young gay people at the time and Ku became ‘the’ coming out venue. Remember in those days there were no mobile phones or dating apps, so if you wanted to meet other gay people, bars were the only place to do so. Ku became known as ‘My First Gay Bar’ to a generation of gay people.

Of course our big change happened 12 years later, when on Valentines Day 2007 we moved venues, lock stock and barrel, to our current flagship venue behind Leicester Square.

From, my very first manager Emma, to the most recent bar-back Gabriel, it’s the staff that make Ku a success. My staff love their job and are very proud of the brand. This comes across to our customers and makes their experience more enjoyable. Unusually in this business we have many long-term staff and almost all of the managers have worked their way up. My business manager Scott, and my maintenance manager Michal are both ex Ku Bar Boys from over 10 years ago.

Who knows what the future holds? If you told me 20 years ago how successful Ku would become, that we would today have grown to 5 distinct and diverse venues and employ over 60 people, I would have been incredulous. So who knows, the young team behind me are ambitious and The Ku Group is at the top of its game and moving forward. Watch this space.

The Ku World Aids Day Auction will be held on Monday 30th at Ku Bar Lisle Street, 30 Lisle St, WC2H 7BA. 6pm-3am.



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