Swanage nightclub transforms into top new venue

Under new management and totally refurbished, The Fonc Lounge in Swanage has opened with a fresh new look in time for the summer season.

Formerly known as The Club, the cavernous entertainment venue now features a jukebox, table football, a shuffleboard, a stage for gigs, as well as a well stocked bar with popular local brands.

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The Fonc Lounge with gig by Galaxy Thief

Space for gigs, DJ sets and comedy acts as well as a place to chat and have a few drinks with friends

“Chat, drink and enjoy”

Although it has Swanage’s only licence to open to 3 am, the vision is to promote the place as a bar where people will come to spend some time, chat, drink and enjoy the facilities, rather than dance to the early hours.

The Fonc Lounge is located in the cellar of what was the Royal Victoria Hotel on the lower High Street. The Grade II listed building dates back to the 16th Century although The Fonc Lounge part is an 18th Century addition.

The hotel was visited by Queen (then Princess) Victoria in 1833 and renamed in her honour.

The Fonc Lounge with gig by Galaxy Thief

New owner Will Rudge behind the impressively handcrafted bar

The Fonc Lounge with gig by Galaxy Thief

A family affair with Will’s mother Gina (left) helping to serve customers

“Create a more social space”

The bar is next door, within the same building, to the East Bar, which now operates separately. The Fonc Lounge’s new owner is Swanage resident, Will Rudge.

Will said:

“I got a phone call back in March 2023 asking whether I’d like to take the place over. I could see the potential so I said yes and was running it by the following month. We kept it as The Club for last year but over the winter we have been able to completely refurbish the whole place.

“There’s a new name now as well. We would have probably called it The Cellar Bar because of our amazing brick barrel vaulted ceiling, but of course that name in Swanage has already been taken, so we went for something completely different.

“Fonc stands for the Forces of Nature Company and it’s a bit of a talking point, especially when people ask, ‘Why The Fonc?!’

“The important thing is, we want to create a more social space for the benefit of the town. We may still open late occasionally, but only on special occasions like New Year’s Eve.”

The Fonc Lounge

A selection of the drinks on tap

The Fonc Lounge

Purbeck Cider available including the pun-tastic Katy Perry

Will Rudge in The Fonc Lounge

Will Rudge combining his love of music and his skill at restoration

DJ-ing for Prince Albert of Monaco

Will moved to Swanage with his family about eight years ago. He was working at the time for an events company and travelling around Europe.

A highlight of his career was DJ-ing for Prince Albert of Monaco during the Formula One Grand Prix.

He then opted to work for Swanage Railway for several years, restoring the heritage carriages including the railway’s much admired Pullman observation car.

The Fonc Lounge under renovation
Will Rudge

The building was completely stripped back before being restored

The Fonc Lounge

And after the work was completed, the brick barrel vaulted ceiling is shown off to good effect

The Fonc Lounge

Plenty to amuse people on a night out, including a shuffleboard – believed to be the only one in Purbeck

“Love people to pop in”

Will added:

“The chance to take over The Fonc Lounge has allowed me to combine both my love of music and my passion for restoration.

“Along with my family, we’ve built everything in the bar ourselves including the new bar with a solid wood top made from the trunk of a local oak tree, which my brother Jamie, who’s a tree surgeon, was able to organise for me.

“It’s been a real bonus to have the space to have a small stage, where we can have comedy acts, DJ sets and bands. It was brilliant to have the local band Galaxy Thief here and on Friday 12th April from 9 pm we’ve got Abba’s Angels.

“We’re really friendly and would love people to pop in, even if it’s only to see what we’ve done with the place, but it would be great if they stayed for a drink too!”

The Fonc Lounge with gig by Galaxy Thief

Local band Galaxy Thief perform at The Fonc Lounge

The Fonc Lounge with gig by Galaxy Thief

A great venue for intimate gigs

Further information

  • More on The Fonc Lounge Facebook page
  • Tickets available on Eventbrite for tribute band Abba’s Angels, performing from 9 pm on Friday 12th April 2024

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