Comptons of Soho is known as the Grand Dame of Soho and has been serving the gay community for 31 years. It’s now entering an exciting new era with a new General Manager Matthew Evans joining the Comptons team from the Duke of Wellington. Dave Cross spoke to Matthew about his new role at this much loved venue and also to Deputy Manager James Bartlett about the bar’s music and DJs.
Matthew Evans, General Manager
Hi Matthew, how has your first month at Comptons been?
The first month has been great. I worked in Comptons over 10 years ago, so it is nice to be back after all these years. It is such a great pub, and such a special place with so many memories for me; it is amazing to be back as the General Manager!
How did you get to be the new guv’nor of Comptons?
I started my career in Soho at Comptons over 10 years ago, and over the years worked at the Admiral Duncan, and the Duke of Welly where I was General Manager for the last 5 years. I love working in Soho and when the opportunity came up for Comptons I jumped at it. I am proud to have contributed in some small way to gay Soho over the years and I am very excited to take Comptons into the next stage of its journey.
Have you made any changes or are you planning to?
The great thing about Comptons is the atmosphere and if ‘it aint broke don’t fix it’ as they say. The team in Comptons are great and I believe our customer service is one of our strongest assets. There have already been changes with new products and some repairs to the ‘engine’ of Comptons. All I can say is watch this space…
Can you talk us through the team?
There is Grant, James, and Gavin who are my right hand men. Grant came with me from the Welly and James and Gavin are stalwarts of Comptons. The bar team at Comptons are fun and always make it a good time!
How would you describe Comptons to someone who’s never been?
Comptons is the Grand Dame of Soho. She has been serving the gay community since the 80s and is an essential hub in the West End. You can watch the boys go by outside on Old Compton Street, have a boogie in the main bar, or chat with a group of friends upstairs.
Who are your customers?
Obviously we get hardcore loyal Comptons customers. We are very thankful that so many people visit us so regularly. The great thing is how varied the customers can be and everyone will get a warm welcome here. Being one of the oldest and most famous LGBTQ venues, it is important to me that we are a friendly place for people to be themselves!
How much of its history do you know?
Comptons was built in 1857, and was the Swiss Hotel until 1986 when it became Comptons. It was rebuilt to its former glory in 2014 when the two top floors were restored which were blown off from a bomb in the Blitz. It is such an iconic venue in Soho steeped in history.
What’s coming up that we should know about?
We have lots of exciting events coming up! All will be featured on our new website – and you should follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep up to date with our hot bar boys and news!
James Bartlett, Deputy Manager
Hi James, how would you describe the music policy of Comptons?
The policy has always been uplifting house music. We have made a few exceptions especially on Mondays, to accompany Happy Hour Alex Eugenio plays an uplifting blend of classic and soulful house with a bit of disco and funk. Our weekends are all about house music, and with over 10 DJs on rotation, it’s always fresh. I’m not too strict, as long as it’s vocal and gets people in the mood to go to the clubs, I’m happy.
A lot of other Soho bars play pop music, why did you decide to go for house music?
As long as I’ve been here we’ve never had pop DJs. No discredit to pop, but I’ve just always found house a bit more uplifting and varied. Without sounding like my mother, pop music seems to be a bit samey these days. I find it works best when a DJ brings their own style of music and doesn’t just play what’s in the dance charts. I wanted us to be a bit different, but I am really pleased to see other venues embrace a much broader range of dance music.
Can you tell us about Thursdays with Tasty Tim?
Thursdays came about around three years ago. We were looking to make them a bit more interesting, and looked to none other than the legendary Tasty Tim. Tim’s reputation amongst four decades of customers made her the perfect choice to get on board. Her knowledge of what makes people dance is incredible, and obviously she looks amazing on the DJ pedestal from anywhere in the bar.
Talk us through the Friday and Saturday DJs…
In order for us to appeal to customers across a much wider age range, I found it was best to introduce DJs that are recognisable from the clubs. I am really proud of our line-up which includes no less than Zach Burns, MisWhite, Louis Chatten, Matt Bogard, Lee Harris, Yvette Lindquist, Fat Tony and Brent Nicholls amongst others.