Dreadful Awful Rubbish : My friend Simon

Simon3On Sunday, our friend, Simon died unexpectedly, an hour or two after we last saw him.

I’m not going to go on about how he changed the landscape of clubbing and life for so many people. You can read that in other places. I want to remember my friend Simon, the guy who wasn’t just our boss, but a man we respected, a man we cherished, a man we loved and pretty much over the last 6 months, the centre of our universe.

I started going to Popstarz soon after moving to London in around September 2004. James and I always noticed this tall, omnipresent guy with black hair who was obviously involved in the club in someway. He was constantly there, and we found him quite a scary, foreboding prescence.

Roll forward and it’s May 2005. James & I arrive back from New York and head in a deleriously jetlagged state to Miss-Shapes at Ghetto, run by the same man. We see a poster saying there will be auditions for a DJ for the club and I’m straight on the case. We applied, headed down to Trash Palace to do a set and got the gig, all while nervously speaking to this guy we now know is Simon. He compliments us on our set, gives us some drink vouchers, and later not so subtly hints that the job is ours, though he’ll have to confirm that with Sandra. James and I look at each other amazed that this guy is even talking to us.

And that was that. Suddenly we were thrust into the spotlight, and into the world I fondly called The Hobart Empire. We were living out some of our dreams, DJing in a place we loved, meeting fantastic people and getting us and our friends into Popstarz for free. How cool was that!

We spent the next 6 months getting to know him. Both of us still in awe of him, but wondering how on earth we ever found him scary. He was so generous, letting us in everywhere for free, plying us with free drinks, and talking to us, telling us his fabulous stories of days gone by.

It was probably in the last 2 months, as he and J became closer, that I got to really know him and he changed from being the awe-inducing Simon Hobart, to being our friend Simon, Suddenly I was playing cupid, determined that these two great guys should be together. I helped J pick nice restaurants and filled Simon in on Js’ quirks and eccentricities.

Going to Ghetto was something I knew I could always do happily, even by myself. A few weeks ago I showed up after another party by myself at 1 in the morning knowing that inside I’d be able to enjoy myself even if I didn’t know anyone there. But I did, Simon of course was there, and we drunkedly spent the next 3 hours drinking and gossiping. It was great fun, and a far cry away from my fear of the immortal gothic prince that we used to see from afar. Similarly I could show up at Trash Palace, hook up with Simon and then head to Ghetto with him where we’d buy each other drinks and have a good gossip. In the last month or so, we were pretty much a regular feature at Ghetto from Wednesday til Saturday and we certainly wouldn’t have been there that much if Simon hadn’t been there.

And so to the final night. After having been out all day, James & I eventually rocked up to Ghetto at 12.45 just in time for Simon’s set at 1am. We greeted, we danced and then at about 3, we left. I told him to call me when he woke up about DJing on Sunday, and kissed him goodbye. And that was that.

I feel a bit embarassed at myself. Last night a group of his friends all got together and went out. There are people who have known him forever and there I am bursting into tears every two minutes. Perhaps I’m just not very good at coping with grief and being strong, but I do need to be strong for everyone else,.

I feel so sad and devastated. It doesn’t feel real, we showed up to DJ, made a phone call and got this terrible news. I can’t imagine walking down those stairs at Ghetto and him not being at the bottom. I can’t imagine going into Popstarz and looking forward to seeing him at the first bar and realising he’s not there and never will be. I’m just walking round my flat crying in a permanent state of disbelief. We walked from Wardour Street up to Falconberg Court when we got the news, and walking down Old Compton it felt like the world should stop. Why are there people walking round doing their usual business. It felt like Soho should be still.

I, like a lot of people, loved that man, and it’s near impossible to describe how great he was to people who didn’t know him. He was funny, intelligent, inspiring, handsome and kind.

He was so important to the way we operated that it’s even more impossible to imagine how our world can carry on without him.

Simon, please come back. I miss you.

6 thoughts on “Dreadful Awful Rubbish : My friend Simon

  1. Just wanted to say thanks for putting this on your blog. I was really shocked to find out earlier today that Simon had died. I first met Simon back in the late 90s. I’d lived in London a few years, been really disappointed by the gay scene, broken up out of my first relationship, and one night I decided to give Popstarz a try. I met Simon that very night, and we had a quick thing which didn’t really work out, but I was always pleased to see him around, and go to his new ventures and I loved to talk to him. I was doing some work today that didn’t require my brain and got to thinking about times I spent with Simon, and it made me really smile to remember sitting in his flat with an ex-boyfriend of his (maybe called Simon too, or Will or something?). We drank Red Stripe and chatted and played Catatonia’s Dead From The Waist Down about 100 times. I remember being in a cab with him and listening to him talk about Liquid Lounge before he even had a name for it. I remember being told about the Kit Kat club, I think he had a press cutting or something on the wall in his hallway, and I remember being blown away by all the stuff this guy had done (and how gravelly his voice was!). I didn’t see him at all for the past three years for various reasons, but I’d promised myself I’d go to Popstarz sometime soon to catch up with a few of the people I spent so many nights there with. Simon, I’m so sad to think it’s over, and I hope that you realised how much we all appreciated everything you did. Rest in peace and thankyou for some fantastic memories. Matt x

  2. Just to say that like Matt i met simon in the late 90’s after moving to London from The midlands.I had heard about this mythical place where you could go and meet other gay guys and girls who liked indi music it seemed incredible!! a place you could go and enjoy yourself feel at home love the music and snog hansome boys,get drunk fall over and then do it all again next week i was in my mid 20;s at the time but seemed to have a second flush of my teens where i got drunk danced snogged and felt really alive and happy things i never really felt able to do the first time round.I had a a druken snog with simon and felt the thrill of being chatted up by this succesful yet shy man who had created this great place where the misfits of the normal scene could get together and not feel isolated and cut off from life.
    As i said i was a teenager again and their were too many boys yet to be snogged for things to develop, but i will alawyd have great effection for a kind unselfish individual who gave me this place to be young and happy and meet loads of wonderful people, people who have now become family thank you simon.

  3. Darling Talia, this is a beautifully written tribute. He was so lucky to have friends like you and James. Somewhere he is reading this and crying himself. Be strong xx

  4. Hiya,

    Its really obvious that lots of ppl cared greatly about this man and as a writer of the LCC News, Id love to do a feature on him..even more, id love if you would help me understand what he meant and stood for and why his legacy will live on…if you can help, and id really appreciate it! please email me at zozo1232@aol.com,

    many thanks and all the best,

    Zoe 🙂 xx

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