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Chapter closes on The Society Club in Soho

Independent literary venue to shut up shop due to rising rents and rates

05 May, 2017 — By Alina Polianskaya

Fans of The Society Cub in Ingestre Place say it ‘felt like old Soho’

IT was a place for literary minds to meet, debate and form friendships over a cocktail in the heart of Soho. But next month the Society Club will be shutting up shop in another blow to independent Soho.

Babette Kulik, who set up the specialist bookshop in Ingestre Place, said: “We wanted a place where creators could meet, a place where minds can meet and things can happen. And things did happen.”

While it had only been there for six years, fans had said “it felt like old Soho” and praised it as an intimate venue with real atmosphere. The Soho Society’s David Gleeson called it “a model bookshop”, adding: “It really punches above its weight for literary events, without in any way infringing the residential amenity of the area.

“As a nearby resident and as head of the licensing group of the Soho Society, I have to say they have been an absolute model premises, a really unique kind of venue which we want more of in Soho.”

The shop played host to many literary events and poetry nights that attracted many well-known names from the book world. By day, it sold second-hand books specialising in art, design, poetry and literature, along with tea and coffee. By night it became a literary members’ club, hosting talks and events.

Babette Kulik opened The Society Club in 2011

One highlight for Ms Kulik was a talk by photographer Leee Black Childers. She said: “He was part of the Warhol Factory, he captured some very magical moments in history and that world. It was fascinating to hear him speak here, it was such an honour.”

Ms Kulik, who previously worked in fashion, said: “My passion was books and literature, I was always collecting books from my teenage years.” She said the area has changed “dramatically” since they moved in six years ago. “I get it. I see how Soho is changing and all the luxury boutiques coming in and pushing the rents higher. They have money. We are not the first to go and we won’t be the last.”

Running the store with her partner Michael, she said that they had put all their savings into the venue, but rising rents and rates meant the business was no longer able to continue in Soho. “We are too small a business so it is not viable,” she added.

They hope to make another go of it in Shoreditch, but the new venture is likely to focus on book sales rather than the events.

Ms Kulik said: “I am going to miss everyone. They made The Society Club.”

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