There’s a new cowboy-themed drag & karaoke bar opening on Smith Street this Friday

lyrics by sidonie bird of the heart

Ahead of the launch of his new bar on Friday, we talk to Nicholas Jones, the owner of Wows, about camp, cowboys and queer parties.

If you go up the stairs next to Yah Yahs next Friday, you’ll find yourself in a Western-themed hyper-camp saloon, complete with drag queens putting on karaoke performances, bartenders dressed as cowboys, and DJs spinning tracks late into the night.

This is Wows, the new queer-oriented venue owned and operated by Nicholas Jones, who currently owns Yah Yahs and Cherry Bar. “It’s going to be camp,” Nick says when asked what a typical Wows night will be like, “I wanted to do something silly and fun. I wanted the drag queens to lead the karaoke [because] I think it will be really disarming – everyone loves drag queens and they really make you feel comfortable. We said to ourselves: how to make karaoke even more fun and even more camp? Let’s have drag queens.

What you should know

  • Wows is a cowboy-themed drag and karaoke bar on Smith Street
  • It’s a queer space that will be open late all weekend
  • The opening is on Friday evening!

Stay up to date with what’s happening in and around Melbourne here.

Designed to look like an old western saloon, but with a lot more glitz, guests are encouraged to dress to fit the theme. When asked about the cowboy theme, Nick says, “I love queer spaces when you flip the script – drag is about flipping gender norms, giving the middle finger to what society says you should be – and what better way to do that than with something as hyper-masculine as a cowboy?

“Wows is…100% my biggest passion project, it’s about me trying to give back to the community and trying to create a space that I wish I had existed when I was 18,” continues -he. “I haven’t lost sight of the fact that the clubbing experience can be daunting and that’s particularly relevant for young queer kids – so creating spaces where they feel safe to express themselves and feel safe to explore yourself, I think that’s really important.”

“This project is probably the project I’ve spent the most time on. I’m here on the strip every Thursday night meeting people…talking to young gay people who come here on a Thursday night and it was really obvious to me that there was a big void in the market for a space for these kids come Friday or Saturday night on Smith Street.

If you’re looking for a place that’s a safe space for anyone who identifies as LGBTQI+, whether you want to sing a few karaoke tunes, or really like to wear big hats, leggings, and spurs – check out Wow. “Let’s just be camp,” Nick says, “and camp is about being irreverent, fun, silly – we all take ourselves far too seriously and I think we have the best nights when we don’t.”

Visit Wows, the yee-haaa Karaoke Bar, at 97B Smith Street Fitzroy, or follow them on Instagram by visiting here.

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