Swinging Richards, Atlanta's legendary strip club, says farewell
Atlanta's legendary all-male all-nude strip club Swinging Richards will close on Jan. 15 after three decades entertaining LGTBQ+ residents, out-of-towners and the occasional bachelorette party that managed to slip past security.
Why it matters: The closing of Swinging Richards is another blow to metro Atlanta's once-thriving, now-fading nude-dancing industry and evolving LGBTQ+ nightlife scene.
Catch up fast: After years in a small location nearby, the club took up residence blocks away from one of Atlanta's most upscale — and ever-growing — restaurant, retail and residential districts.
- The squat corner building on Northside Drive become a favorite for locals, tourists and conventioneers — plus celebrities like Andy Cohen, Billy Porter, and Tiffany Haddish — looking for “surfers to baseball jocks and muscle men inked to the max.”
Yes, but: Before facing hardships caused by the pandemic, the club was sued by former dancers who argued that they deserved minimum wage.
- In 2019, the club filed for bankruptcy protection and added “Tara's Southern Belles, a noon-to-8pm all-women revue, to boost revenue.
What they're saying: “Our boys will miss your friendships, your kindness, your participation and seeing your smiling and excited faces especially those that frequented us,” the club said in a statement on Instagram last week. “We love our regulars. You all made us world renowned, and there is no thank you that could ever show enough gratitude.”
- Efforts by Axios to reach Cummins Beveridge “C.B.” Jones II, the club's owner, by phone and through the club's bankruptcy lawyer were unsuccessful.
The big picture: Gentrification and new development in once-thriving nightlife spots like Cheshire Bridge, plus the pandemic and advent of dating apps, have pushed some clubs to close or move, signaling a change in how the city’s LGBTQ+ mingle and create networks.
For some out-of-towners, Angel Poventud, a local community advocate who's visited the club for his birthday, tells Axios, Swinging Richards was a well-known spot on the tourism itinerary — "like the gay version of the The World of Coca-Cola," he says.
- "But nobody spends $1,000 in one visit to The World of Coca-Cola," he says.
When nightlife has a chance to rebuild after two years of a pandemic and being forced to close or change their operations, journalist Martin Padgett tells Axios, the activities will likely be consolidated in larger clubs — or just when the spirit moves revelers.
- “I don't know if anything's gonna fill that void,” says Padgett, the author of the “A Night at the Sweet Gum Head: Drag, Drugs, Disco, and Atlanta's Gay Revolution," who's also writing a book about the landmark Bowers v. Hardwick case. “But for sure, you're gonna see naked guys dancing on bar tops across Atlanta. It's just not going to be all in one place. Some of them will be doing it pro bono.”
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