Dec 7, 2021 - Business

Swinging Richards, Atlanta's legendary strip club, says farewell

A squat building with no visible windows and a neon sign that says "Swinging Richards"
Photo: Thomas Wheatley/Axios

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.

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