Dolce Bar is up for sale - and you could buy in for $300
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Dolce Bar is up for sale - and you could buy in for $300

Could 2019 be the year you become joint owner of East Row nightclub Dolce Bar?

Yes it could, according to Canberra siblings Rohan Proctor, 23, and older brother Dallas, 28.

Rohan Proctor wants to establish a co-operative to buy Dolce Bar.

Rohan Proctor wants to establish a co-operative to buy Dolce Bar.Credit:Sitthixay Ditthavong

The brothers want Dolce Bar in Civic - formerly Shooters - to be owned by the Canberra community and are attempting to form a co-op to buy and manage the club (capacity 250).

In the model proposed by the brothers, 200 Canberrans would buy into The Dance Co-op at $300 each and have complete ownership and control over the venue - from a potential events program and the drinks menu to operating hours and security.

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Dolce Bar, currently listed for sale on Gumtree,  is located upstairs at 27 East Row and has been an iconic nightspot in the Sydney Building since the 1990s.

The bar is "fully fitted with top-of-the-range sound and lighting equipment for DJ and live music" according to the Gumtree advertisement and is "priced to sell", the ad claims.

If the proposed co-op works, the nightclub would become a strictly not-for-profit venue operating at hours determined by the 200 new owners.

"[Dallas and I] saw that Dolce was for sale and we thought, 'Wouldn't it be cool if you gave people who are out for a night out a piece of the venue they're attending?'" Rohan said.

"We thought it would have real implications because instantly you'd have a community.

"And they'd feel a level of responsibility to make sure the people around them were having a good - and safe - time too."

The brothers are experienced in both 'crowdsourcing' business solutions and in hospitality.

Dallas was a founder of the Canberra Student Housing Co-op seven years ago (still operating today), and the siblings launched mobile cocktail business Capital Cocktails and social dining business Table Tattle in Canberra. Rohan also helped Uber establish the Uber Eats service in the ACT.

If a financial commitment from 200 Canberrans is secured, The Dance Co-op will incorporate as a registered co-operative under the Co-operatives National Law (ACT) Act 2017, similar to the ANU Food Co-op and Canberra Student Housing-Co-op.

"The first thing we do after we get 200 people on board is run a general meeting - call everyone into the room, elect office bearers and they'll be the ones ultimately responsible for how it all unfolds."

Rohan hopes the new nightclub will foster local musical talent, following the lead of Transit Bar, and have the same vibe as a very young Mr Wolf club when it first opened in 2015.

He said key learnings could be taken from the ANU's student-run, not-for-profit club Uni Vibes as well as live music co-op The Red Rattler in Sydney.

"With a co-operative you can put on acts that aren't commercially viable for profit-driven venues," he said.

"We want to bring something different to the table. Not just your standard Canberra night out."

All things going to plan, The Dance Co-op would look to open the club's doors as soon as late February.

For further information or to express your interest in joining the co-op head to the Facebook page or www.dancecoop.com.au

Bree Element is the life and entertainment editor at The Canberra Times

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