New Rockingham entertainment venue Encore set to shake up the suburb’s ‘non-existent’ nightlife
Rockingham’s newest entertainment venue is set to open next week with a hospitality veteran and famed local musician at the helm.
The city’s only nightclub space, above VAT 116 on Kent Street, has been reimagined into Encore — but it is definitely not a nightclub, its director says.
And with a $3million renovation tag, Marc Kenly believes his new late-night venue could rival any venue, anywhere in Perth, when it opens February 2.
“As much as the calibre of this venue in Rockingham I think will blow people away, I would put this venue in Perth, any given day of the week, and it would blow people away,” he said.
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“The space itself is a live entertainment venue, not a nightclub, but a club, a live entertainment club.
“What we’ve done in here competes with some of the best venues in the city — I think that we’re right up there with them.”
The upstairs venue was previously home to a string of nightclubs but has undergone a transformation by BHO Interiors.
The new looks includes a central stage big enough for a nine-piece band, a state-of-the-art sound system and dynamic lighting.
There is a large dance floor and booth seating with bottle service available.
Although the club is upstairs from VAT 116, Mr Kenly said that’s where the similarities start and end, with Encore chasing a different crowd and offering a differing vibe and even different drinks.
“On a Friday after work you will see plenty of hi-vis downstairs — you’ll see no hi-vis upstairs,” he said.
“(It is) targeting a bit more of a mature demographic, where people are looking for a little bit more of an upmarket entertainment venue, as opposed to just going to a standard pub or a basic nightclub.
“You’ll see plenty of people having Swan Draught downstairs — you will not see people having Swan Draught upstairs.”
Mr Kenly described the current state of local night-life options in the city as “sad” and his vision is for Encore to reinvigorate Rockingham’s late-night scene and pave the way for more, similar venues.
“The nightlife in Rockingham at this point is non-existent,” he said.
“There are a few pubs, one being obviously VAT 116 downstairs — they all close down at midnight.
“But there is nothing when you want to talk about entertainment or something to do.
“It has such a historically bad reputation in this area.
“Hopefully this will catapult a few other people to think maybe it is a good area to invest in, maybe this is a good area to help bring that nightlife and just change the area.
“Because it is a bit 1985 here still — there’s no question about it — but you’ve got to start somewhere.
“And if we’re that start then I’m happy to be a part of that.”
Encore is expected to host a variety of entertainment from rock bands and country music to brass bands, drag shows and magicians. It will open till 2am Thursday to Saturday nights.
Rockingham-raised musician Matt Gresham, a former contestant on television’s The Voice, will be the venue’s entertainment manager.
He wants to use his expertise to “bridge the gap between artist and venue” and book local talent.
“When you’re from a small town and you have a new song coming out or a new record coming out, there’s not many places to kind of play,” he said.
“So this place would facilitate that for sure, like if you’re a local band or a local singer, songwriter, or comic, or even a magician — a place that you can come and feel comfortable and people will come and respect your show, more than being in a dingy bar.”
Mr Kenly and Mr Gresham’s partnership came about by chance after they struck up a conversation at VAT 116. It also presents a fresh challenge for both men, marking Mr Gresham’s first time booking for artists other than himself and Mr Kenly’s first venture into the entertainment space.
The hospitality stalwart has lived in Rockingham for 12 years where he first owned fish and chip shops before opening the Latitude 32 restaurant, which he has since sold, and has worked to establish Encore for the past three years.
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