What's next for Camden Market? US bar chain Coyote Ugly – and its dancing women-only staff

Director of operations insists venue is a 'female empowerment bar'

Friday, 29th July — By Dan Carrier

camden28 Image 2022-07-28 at 9.17.23 PM (18)

Inside the new bar which is due to open in the Stables Market area

A US chain of bars which employs women-only staff to serve drinks and dance while dressed in skimpy clothing is moving into Camden market.

The move to introduce the world-famous Coyote Ugly Saloon to the new-look line-up at the Stables Market in Chalk Farm Road – once a bohemian haven for alternative stalls and offbeat indie music pubs – has sparked opposition from those concerned by the changing nature of the area.

The bar, which runs franchises around the US and the UK, wants to get the new venue open next month and this weekend founder Liliana Lovell will fly into London from her New York base to host what the company calls its staff auditions. Women who are picked for roles will then face a two-week intensive course to learn dance routines and practise singing together.

The Castlehaven Community Centre, situated near the entrance to the Stables’ cobbled site, has a licensing and planning committee which monitors the impact of the markets.

Castlehaven director Tricia Richards said: “Our first thoughts were: Oh my gosh, this isn’t Camden.”

The community worker said the market owners, Labtech, were at risk of creat-ing a line-up of operators which would put off people who actually lived in Camden Town from visiting.

New attractions include a basement fairground, the Lara Croft Tomb Raider Live experience and a Peaky Blinders interactive theatre show. There are also plans to build a Ferris wheel next to the canal.

Posters in the market advertising the auditions

Ms Richards warned the markets would be solely the domain of tourists who would come once and never return, adding: “This is a big company with many other branches. It would be much better if this bar had been an independent, run by a local brewery, and not have a theme of this type that may put people off going in for a drink.”

She said: “The imagery associated with Coyote Ugly, we feel, is not fitting, and we would not like the young people who come to our centre, or visit the markets, to have to walk past it. It simply does not send out a positive message, and adds to the feeling that Camden Town is becoming like Soho and Leicester Square, with big brands and bars like this one. It feels like a step backwards.”

Coyote Ugly director of operations, Chris Young, defended the firm’s business model.

He said: “We are a female empowerment bar. We have never heard criticism – just many compliments. People appreciate it.

“If my sister or daughter worked here, I’d say good for them. No one should dictate what you can or can’t do. I am all for women expressing themselves any way they want. No one is forcing them to do anything.

“We give them the freedom to express themselves. If you love performing, then this is the stage for you. In other bar jobs, you serve pints. Here you have to entertain – and have the time of your life doing it. It is hard work but all my girls say it is a life-changing experience.”

And the company told the New Journal that Camden Town was the ideal location.

Mr Young added: “Camden is a great area with so much history behind it, with its rock scene and music in general.” Mr Young said
customers coming in through the doors would enjoy the show.

He said: “The first thing you’d notice is an electric atmosphere our Coyotes create. You walk in and see the girls singing, dancing and performing routines. There is a real atmosphere.

“It is a very interactive bar – this is a show bar, and the bar staff are everything – waiting at tables, serving you drinks and then saying goodbye at the end of the night. They are multi-talented.”

LabTech director Maggie Milosavljevic said: “Introducing the London debut site for Coyote Ugly Saloon highlights the work we are doing to provide more options for Camden’s nightlife. We are excited to see them open, bringing another element to Camden Market that you cannot find anywhere else in London.”

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