An abandoned Edinburgh lap dancing bar is set to re-open as the capital’s newest comedy club after the council approved a request to serve alcohol at the premises earlier than was previously allowed.
Dubbed ‘one of Edinburgh’s premier gentlemen’s clubs’ before it shut its doors, The Liquorice Club in Tollcross has lain empty for almost a decade but will finally take on a new life after the building was bought-up.
In place of the former strip club will be Hootenannys comedy club, which will be run by one of the founders of Monkey Barrel, a popular stand-up venue off the royal mile.
After securing a building warrant to begin making internal changes to the premises on Home Street, new owners Netherview Limited sought licensing variations to allow alcohol to be served from 11am, changed from 5pm, to accommodate earlier shows during the festival and at weekends.
Councillors sitting on the Licensing Board granted the application on Monday despite opposition from the local community.
Representatives from Tollcross Community Council attended the meeting and argued as the club is located within an area identified as having too many places that sell or serve alcohol that the licence should be refused.
“I cannot stress this enough, over provision means too much provision, it doesn’t mean just enough – it means too much,” community councillor Roger Colkett said.
“I can see absolutely no good reason not to [refuse] in this case,” he said, adding there is “nothing special about this premises”.
Councillor Chas Booth challenged the applicant on the matter, highlighting that the amended licence would increase the hours of alcohol sale which he said is “contrary to our policy”.
However, Cllr Booth recognised there are sometimes “exceptional cases” and asked what was exceptional about the application.
Alistair Macdonald, licensing agent for Netherview, replied: “We’re getting rid of a lap dancing bar – I would see it as fairly exceptional.”
He added: “Surely having a comedy club there is better than having a lap dancing club there.
“Secondly, the only change therefore that’s really been made is we’re asking for the hours to start earlier and that is simply because it was a lap dancing bar and it wasn’t licensed until five o’clock and we’re bringing that forward to normal hours from 11 o’clock policy hours which practically every licensed premises in the town has.
“That is because there might be shows allowed in the day, weekends or particularly during the festivals and festive period and it’s just to cover that.
“We’re doing away with the adult entertainment, it won’t run as a lap dancing bar, it will hopefully run as a comedy club with an experienced operator.”