On 24 July 2015 a windowless, empty room behind The Groove Cafe on Golden Four Drive in Tugun gave birth to a prohibition style bar known as Hidden. Since then the venue has gone about steadily building a profile among discerning Gold Coasters in the know. And on the occasion of the venue’s one year anniversary, Anthony Gebhardt chatted with venue (and Groove Cafe) owner James Park about the journey so far and what the future holds in the world of Hidden.
Entertainment is in the blood for Groove Cafe and Hidden owner, opera performer and singing barista James Park. Borne from his love of performance, James saw an opportunity to give something back culturally to the area outside of just another run of the mill bar. And to do something with the hole in the wall that was once a clothes shop sitting behind his cafe.
Says James; “Live music and the arts is what I love above all, and the space lent itself ideally to a Prohibition Bar style set up, no windows, down a back alley, that sort of vibe. I felt that it’s stylish, boutique nature was something that people on the Gold Coast were looking for. Cultural diversity and the feeling of belonging to a location because of unique venues, is I think what the Gold Coast desperately needs, forever.”
I asked James to encapsulate the Hidden experience in a sentence; “You walk into the place and immediately feel the special atmosphere, a one of a kind on the Gold Coast, like something straight out of Melbourne or New York.”
Prohibition Bars are a throwback to the hidden drinking spots and ‘speakeasies’ of the 1920’s prohibition era. James embraced the look and feel of these establishments when creating Hidden, from the classic decor to the sharply dressed attire of larger than life barman Tony Curtis. From antique mirrors and fringed lampshades through to tables made from old church doors, the venue oozes its own special charm. Adds James; “A lot of the artwork in there I’ve done myself, like the piano cut in half. There’s bits of it all around the place and some of the keys have turned up in the artwork itself.”
Hidden is open from Thursday to Sunday from 4.00pm to 11.00pm. Jazz, latin and blues-based live music feature prominently in the Hidden oeuvre, with acts such as Matty Rogers and Steve Lovelight typically playing the room on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday night.
I ask James about what other sort of entertainment Hidden put on.
“I’ve done 50 singing barista shows in Groove/Hidden in our first year – a three course meal and a couple of hours of singing, with a piano accordion player. We put on two burlesque shows recently, one in May and one in June, which were sold out. They were great events and obviously the style of the place suits burlesque performance really well.”
Tugun is still somewhat of a sleepy enclave, but James is keen to be in it for the long haul and establish Hidden as an iconic southern Gold Coast locale with a difference.
“This is a standalone venue that needed an angle that would draw people to a location like Tugun, where you can shoot a gun down the street at 7.00pm at night and not hit anyone! And we don’t have any street frontage, people actually have to come and seek us out. So in order to succeed it needed to have a unique style and character of its own.”
With the venue recently celebrating its one year anniversary on 24 July it seems that James is onto something. And over the coming 12 months, as well as continuing with the singing barista, burlesque and live music events, James is also keen to diversify into the realms of comedy and poetry nights.
And backing up its magical ambience and quality entertainment, Hidden also delivers culinary delights such as scrumptious tapas, courtesy of Spanish chef Antonio Martinez, an extensive range of wines and cocktails and a killer craft beer range. So if you’ve yet to experience the thrill and delights on offer when you step through the old doors and enter the bygone world of Hidden, be sure to schedule in a visit soon!
PHOTO CREDIT: Lamp Photography