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Quieted by pandemic and trashed by break-ins and squatters, Capitol Hill gay dance club Neighbours says it needs your help to survive

(Image: Neighbours)

Break-ins and squatters have decimated the space home to Capitol Hill dance club and iconic Seattle LGBTQ venue Neighbours, shuttered for months under COVID-19 restrictions.

“After 9 years in Vancouver and 38 years in Seattle, Neighbours may have to close their doors,” performer Roxy Doll writes in a fundraiser plea launched to help the nightclub. “COVID-19 is one thing, but to have to replace and rebuild everything on top of being shut down for who knows how much longer. I don’t know if they are going to make it.”

The goal, Doll tells CHS, is to raise enough so that Neighbours can reopen again when restrictions are relaxed and to give any extra to a charity to help others.  You can give here.

But that day is currently a long way away — made even more distant by a mix of brazen and desperate actions. People breaking in cut through the fire door and even a walk-in freezer door at one point. The sound systems, all alcohol, lighting equipment, and all the cameras have been stolen, Doll said. The club has ended up filled with human waste, needles, and trash dragged in from outside. The floor and walls have been spray painted and tagged. Someone cut holes in the walls looking for copper pipes.

The performer has taken on the role of clean-up manager to help the club where she has been performing for years while the club’s owner Moustafa “Moe” Elassiouti is in Egypt due to COVID-19.

Neighbours is not alone. CHS is also gathering information on a nearby office building left empty by the restrictions that also suffered a major break-in and squat situation. By the time police acted to clear that building this month, it was trashed inside and filled with left-behind high end items including a large Apple monitor and piles of electronics.

Doll says police also didn’t do much to stop what was happening at Neighbours as the first break-in came the night of a July protest march. Over the months, Doll says police were called several times. “They just tell them to leave,” Doll said. “Not doing much about it or caring much.”

Word spread about the severity of the break-ins and squatting at Neighbours this fall after the situation worsened through summer. Egan Orion of the Broadway Business Improvement Association says his organization learned about the situation in late October as it added to an already bleak landscape for the neighborhood’s LGBTQ nightlife scene.

“Every bar and nightclub is on life support,” Orion said.

The Seattle Gay News tells CHS it is also planning to help support the Neighbours fundraiser.

Another neighborhood icon got a boost through a community fundraiser during the pandemic. E Pike’s Wildrose raised more than $50,000 to help it stay afloat. Meanwhile, another legendary Hill gay bar The Cuff found new ownership with neighborhood nightlife entrepreneur Joey Burgess to start 2020.

(Image: Neighbours)

The Neighbours property owned by Elassiouti remains for sale — CHS reported on the $6.9 million price tag placed on the property in January 2019. It was relisted last month for $5.75 million. Up the block, development of The Eldridge, an eight-story affordable housing project focused on LGBTQ+ elders, is moving forward with the city currently working through the demolition permit on the preservation-focused project.

Even if the Neighbours property somehow sells during the pandemic, the club could be in place for years to come. But only if people step up to help, Doll says.

“Once COVID restrictions lift, Neighbours will most likely be the only gay club standing,” Doll says, “and hopefully ready to open — If we get enough help.”

You can give to help Neighbours via GoFundMe here.


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CHqueer
CHqueer
30 days ago

The city council has handed the keys to the city to anarchists and drug vagrants. This is unsustainable, stupid and sad.

CD Neighbor
CD Neighbor
30 days ago
Reply to  CHqueer

The really sad part is that I’ve already seen comments from the ‘activist’ community excusing this as people doing this just for survival – explaining it away as necessary squatting not vandalism and blaming the victim (the owner) for not properly securing the building… Wow…

JerSeattle
JerSeattle
30 days ago
Reply to  CD Neighbor

I say this. Police have camera footage from the street level. Go after vandals and looters. They are not protesters when they are vandalizing and looting. They are anarchists.

But not the police are putting all their resources into gassing peaceful protestors night after night. Disappointing.

RWK
RWK
29 days ago
Reply to  JerSeattle

Your last paragraph is simply not true.

Ms Capitol Hill
Ms Capitol Hill
28 days ago
Reply to  JerSeattle

There is an eviction moratorium. State-wide and locally by our governor and Mayor and our City Council. Quit blaming the police. They cannot do anything, their hands are tied by local politicians who have mandated “No Evictions”. This doesn’t just apply to legal tenants, but to squatters too. While some have applauded this government intrusion into private rental contracts, the fall-out is that ALL evictions, legal or unlawful, have been suspended. You reap what you sow.

RWK
RWK
27 days ago

Are you sure that the eviction moratorium applies to illegal squatters? If so, that seems preposterous!

CHqueer
CHqueer
29 days ago
Reply to  CHqueer

Now Seven Gables goes up in flames. I can’t imagine how that could have happened. When will Seattle wake up and say enough is enough?

UDistrictDon
UDistrictDon
29 days ago
Reply to  CHqueer

Seven Gables has been closed for many years and was slated for demolition, the squatters just hurried along the process, but it was gone already.

yetanotherhiller
yetanotherhiller
28 days ago
Reply to  UDistrictDon

There’s no record of any demolition permit.

yetanotherhiller
yetanotherhiller
29 days ago
Reply to  CHqueer

Which do you think the city building department would rather see on that corner: a small landmarked theater building or 40 stories of luxury condos for techies?

RWK
RWK
28 days ago
Reply to  CHqueer

The Seven Gables was a unique and wonderful movie house. May it RIP.

Patty
Patty
30 days ago

Let’s hope they make a come back! Thank you for sharing this story.

Eli
Eli
30 days ago

Wow! That brings back memories of what my house looked like after homeless addicts from Cal Anderson Park broke into it and trashed it while I was away on vacation.

https://www.capitolhillseattle.com/2014/02/police-looking-for-burglary-suspect-who-allegedly-trashed-capitol-hill-home/

(Also, to the best of my knowledge, the only identified burglar got a whopping 5 days in jail for it all.)

For people wanting to pretend that this is a recent problem, the above incident was 7.5 years ago.

Casey
Casey
25 days ago
Reply to  Eli

Looks like she passed away this year.

lover of the babydoll tree
lover of the babydoll tree
30 days ago

Ugh, brutal. This is a disaster. I’m so sorry Neighbours, you deserved better. I hope you can rebuild and reopen, the hood won’t be the same without you!

Brian Buck
Brian Buck
30 days ago

I appreciate you following through on this in such a thorough fashion after sending you a tweet yesterday. Great coverage of a sad situation.

Seaguy
Seaguy
30 days ago

It’s crimes like this that go unpunished that make me question how defunding the SPD by 50% is going to not lead to a steep increase in crime?

In all the councils talk about defunding and allowing misdemeanors to be dismissed if one is experiencing poverty, addiction or mental illness you never hear about the victims. Crimes are not victimless.

Nope
Nope
30 days ago

Not surprising at all. This is why I am leaving the neighborhood after 10+ years as a property tax payer and almost 20 as a resident. The city can go broke without me.

Seattle is going to continue to go down until it elects leadership that takes public and private property rights seriously. If homeless can erect parks and near structures in a park, why can’t I just fence off public land?

See Portland Downtown businesses being locked out of insurance as the future if Seattle doesn’t start to I dunno..govern? Once insurance providers either stop offering it or massively increase rates so business is not feasible, you are done as a small business and for larger businesses(Target,etc.) it becomes a risk assessment on having a presence or not.

Tia
Tia
29 days ago
Reply to  Nope

Preach

Moving On
Moving On
30 days ago

Ouch.

This is why they don’t deserve our tax dollars
This is why they don’t deserve our tax dollars
30 days ago

SPD is useless. They’ll leave 20 cops covered in riot gear guarding the street outside their clubhouse 24/7 for a week, send 20 officers to arrest people playing soccer, and show up in force if people show up at the SPOG, but won’t do anything to actually help the neighborhood.

Liveonhill
Liveonhill
29 days ago

Wrong. This attitude and Seattle city council is ruining our neighborhood

Zach
Zach
29 days ago

I’m sad this happened, however I will not further vilify people who may be homeless, poor and/or have substance abuse issues. Whether or not Neighbours was broken into, those people who did need help and something is extremely off about this capitalist society that tosses people aside. I don’t want to return to a status quo in which select people get to party in a legal manner indoors in a dance club, while others starve on the street a few feet away. It wasn’t okay before. It’s not okay now. And there needs to be a better future.

No CHOP
No CHOP
29 days ago
Reply to  Zach

They are not tossed aside by capitalism. They are anti social criminals who refuse to participate in a civil society.

If all these people living in tents, trashing parks, buildings and other open spaces were actually just good law abiding working Seattle citizens dont you think the activists would be putting those people and their stories front and center for all to sympathize with? The fact is that these people were not people that had a job and apartment in Seattle 6 or 12 months ago and then because of Amazon or some amorphous capitalists boogie man were forced to become junkie criminals living on our streets.

The policies being pursued by the city council & the professional activists class are turning this city into a magnet city attracting the worst people from across the country to come here to take advantage of our permissive environment that allows criminals to victimize hard working citizens and businesses without consequences.

Zach
Zach
29 days ago
Reply to  No CHOP

There is nothing “civil” about a society in which people are homeless, hungry, lack mental and physical healthcare and other resources. Though it’s true not all have been tossed aside because of capitalism. Some just literally tossed out of their homes because they’re LGBTQ teens and their families are bigots. Or they have mental health issues that have never been treated. Or because they’ve lost their jobs during COVID. Or they have a disability and social services aren’t enough to keep them afloat. Or they don’t have friends or family to lean on. And there are plenty of so-called junkies who you don’t see because they do drugs at home, including trust-fund condos on Capitol Hill. And plenty of anti-social criminals how participate in civil society, such as Trump. I never take the time to respond like this normally and will not reply to you again, but just know that your dismissive, ill-informed attitude is part of the problem. And you won’t find a wall or moat big enough to keep the actual world out of sight, no matter how hard you try not to care.

Gene
Gene
29 days ago
Reply to  Zach

It’s a crap hole worth 6mil $. I think the foreign owner will be fine.

RJxx
RJxx
29 days ago
Reply to  Zach

No we don’t need to vilify homeless…. but can we not “vilify” (does that mean hold accountable?) those who do these crimes? Being an addict… should not give anyone a pass to do crime… that is not a better future for anyone.
Also, There is literally no one starving in Seattle…. sucks to be homeless, but lack of food is fortunately not a problem.

Zach
Zach
29 days ago
Reply to  RJxx

Re: “There is literally no one starving in Seattle”. https://www.northwestharvest.org/about-us/hunger-facts

Nope
Nope
29 days ago
Reply to  Zach

Starvation is rare to nonexistent here. If you follow NW Harvest links you’ll see that the focus nowadays is on “food insecurity. From NW Harvest: “Food insecurity refers to USDA’s measure of lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members and limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods. Food-insecure households are not necessarily food insecure all the time.

Patty
Patty
29 days ago
Reply to  Zach

Last I checked, socialist and communist countries were not doing better. Check out China, Russia and India before holding capitalism as a problem. Feel free to move to these countries if capitalism isn’t your thing.

Tom
Tom
27 days ago
Reply to  Patty

According to right wingers, any Democrat is a socialist/communist these days. All the developed countries in Europe and Asia have affordable healthcare. Do you consider that socialist/communist?

CD Neighbor
CD Neighbor
25 days ago
Reply to  Tom

Yeah… and according to anarchist and marxist activists out here any Democrat is a far right winger…. 🙄

Do you believe that what the activist community out here is actually advocating for is a European style social democracy?

I’m all for affordable health care and lots of free education – I believe that we would all be better for having a smarter and healthier society. What I don’t believe in is the anarchist/libertarian idea that people should be able to do whatever they want to, no matter how destructive it is, to themselves and/or the community and I don’t think that simply implementing a few more social programs will ever help the subset of people that are the ones that are most visible, most disruptive and that we are spending a lot of our resources maintaining right now.

Will
Will
29 days ago
Reply to  Zach

Heavy drug users are in a altered state of existence, and need help to regain themselves, if possible. They can not manage housing and will likely resort to ripping out copper and anything of value to support their habits.

csy
csy
27 days ago
Reply to  Zach

But why then the grafitti? Why would “starving” people give any time/thought to procuring cans of spray paint and tag cryptic messages all over the place? Same goes for all the graffiti left by the “desperate starving” under/along our freeways?

Reza
Reza
29 days ago

multimillionaire owner doing a GoFund? Wow!

CHqueer
CHqueer
29 days ago
Reply to  Reza

The performers that value this 38 year old LGBTQI space are organizing the go fund me, not the owner. The owner is a person that has supported gay spaces in Seattle for decades, not just a “foreigner” as someone said above. It is disturbing how the leftist extremists have become a mirror of the alt right. Both are intolerant and destructive to the social fabric of the country.

RWK
RWK
29 days ago

This is yet another example of the dystopia that Pike-Pine has become.

Adam
Adam
28 days ago

An LGBT community space being destroyed by anarchists and addicts is a good summary for the overall neighborhood lately.

C Doom
C Doom
27 days ago
Reply to  Adam

Adam, so true. The protest tourist contingent, petulant white kids from Eastside, come here and destroys what Seattle’s Capitol Hill community built. SPD lets it happen. Jenny turns her back on the community that launched her political career. The fake-woke protest community only knows how to destroy others’ property, invoking Soviet slogans and convincing each other they’re making a difference.

Joe
Joe
26 days ago

The place was already trashed and an unsafe fire hazard. We need vibrant safe queer gathering spaces. If the owner is crying about remodeling, then they are not the one to seize this opportunity to uplift the space and make it safe. They didn’t put any effort into protecting or monitoring the property during a global crisis. They didn’t put any effort into utilizing the property as a source of income. I’m not convinced they would use my donations effectively.

C C
C C
26 days ago
Reply to  Joe

Agree 100%. Too many of my friends and myself have had unpleasant experiences at Neighbors, it’s hard to feel sorry for this place.

32queer_onthehill
32queer_onthehill
23 days ago

Who cares…. Cap Hill has long been over run by the bourgeois pseudo queer(at best) or STR8 transplants. I say let us relocate the gay ghetto to a new place. The bohemian lifestyle is totally a prefab concept that is bought and sold on Amazon.

Alal
Alal
23 days ago

If people would just stop resisting and embrace Marxism all our problems would be solved.