Nik Epifanidis Photographer/Director
Stills & Video

The story of Hugs & Kisses is beautiful enough in its simplicity. A queer club offering a safe and supportive space for a generation of mainly LGBTIQ+ people and their allied friends to gather together and make it their own.

Another way of saying it: Hugs was an iconic underground queer club hidden down a laneway in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD, famed for its craziness, creativity, fashion, debauchery and of course, music. Perhaps the grandchild of Leigh Bowery’s (in)famous London Club Taboo, it thrived by unashamedly pushing boundaries and breeding self-expression to a thumping musical beat – a beacon of anything goes for those in the know or wanting to find out.

A compendium to the upcoming documentary, 'Love, Hugs + Kisses', this photography exhibition is a love letter to (and a celebration of) Melbourne’s iconic underground queer favourite, Hugs + Kisses. Captured over the final, unforgettable night before ‘Hugs’ closed its doors ending its legendary nine-year run for good, the exhibition documents a raw moment in the rich history of underground queer clubbing in Melbourne.

More than that, the exhibition captures an intersectional point of music, identity, culture, fashion, performance and design – everything that is critical to Melbourne’s identity as a true cultural and creative city.

The perfect photographic portrait can take hours in a single sitting. Melbourne photographer Nik Epifanidis had no such luxury. With a little more than five minutes per portrait, he persuaded each subject to focus simply on one thought – the emotion they wanted to convey to the camera. The results are stunning in their beauty and humanity as much as they are cheeky and fun. The subjects knew it was their moment – that they were going to play a part in the history of Melbourne’s cultural queer journey. And they didn’t disappoint.

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