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Templo Theatre Bar is coming

Canberra’s new three-level pleasure palace has a surprise waiting on its first floor – and it’s decidedly queer. Danny Corvini took a sneak peek with its designer, property developer Nik Bulum.

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Nik Bulum is the interior-designer of a gorgeous new tri-level venue on London Circuit. It’s owned by Rulla Bakri, who also owns Zoo Bar and the Mile High Club next door, and it consists of the ground level Saint Malo, Templo Theatre Bar on the first floor and Rito Functions on the top floor.

Sydney’s IVY comes to mind.

We meet in the white-washed Saint Malo bar and restaurant, which has been open since August last year. “Rulla wanted me to create something that has a little bit of a Mykonos or Ibiza feel so you can have an escape,” says Nik. “It’s Spanish and Mediterranean food-wise and the garden (backing onto Hobart Place) has a nice Mediterranean vibe.”

Opening in February is Templo, a theatre/performance bar with capacity for up to 100 people. The hope is for it to become a new home for the LGBTIQA+ community and our performers.

When you create something after COVID, it needs to be new and refreshing

“It’s an intimate little art space where people can perform,” says Nik. “It will have a lot of queer performers but it will be for everyone. There will be drag bingo, drag kings, well-known artists, burlesque, cabaret.

“We’re theming it so it changes weekly and each stage show will have a themed menu. It will be R&B one week and like a big camp festival the next. After some of the shows there’ll be a DJ so you can party.” They have booked some high profile queens for their Xmas party.

Like the new Transit Bar on nearby Bailey’s Corner, the operators used the COVID downtime to dream up – and crucially, to invest in – a fabulous new nightlife option for Canberra.

“I think that’s how Templo got created,” says Nik. “During COVID, you’d go to bars and clubs and people had to be seated. It was a bit boring because you’d have to listen to music sitting in a chair. Whereas seeing something visual to go with that music is little bit more exciting.

“At Templo, everyone will be sitting on a lounge; it’s more like a bar than a nightclub. You can come and have dinner or drinks at Saint Malo prior to going upstairs to watch a show or you just come here sit in the garden and have a drink and then go see the show upstairs. You can come back down and have drinks or eat after.”

On the top floor, Rito is a space for weddings, birthdays or other functions and has capacity for 250 guests. The entire venue is over 600sqm and can accommodate some 990 people.

“When you create something after COVID, it needs to be new and refreshing just to get people out,” says Nik.

“I did the interiors and I’m helping to get the concept going, but then I’m letting go because I’ve got too many things going on,” he laughs, no doubt with his next property development in mind.

Opening details soon. Find it at 23 London Cct, Canberra.

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