A few hours before they set up URGE Christchurch, URGE Events owner-operators Paul Heard and Alan Granville meet Oliver Hall in a sunny brewery courtyard to get grilled on why, 25 years on, they still have the Urge to put on a party!

It’s 25 years since K Road’s URGE Bar opened its doors at 490 K Road, opened by Peter Taylor, Larry Quickenden and Phillip Stack. When they all respectively moved on, Paul and Alan took it over, until URGE permanently closed its doors in 2014. While it has never returned as a venue, within a few months of the closure, Paul and Alan started URGE Events, bringing their bearish brand to parties across the country.

I say ‘bear-ish’, the two have opted to drink wine not beer when we meet at Christchurch’s best brewery, I guess you can’t be on-brand all the time.


“It’s just celebrating all that URGE has been over the last 25 years. All the people who we’ve affected one way or another… that little bar was meant a lot to a lot of people who are still supporting us, so it’s a celebration of them,” says Alan Granville, an Irish-born Kiwi with a cheeky grin, who has resided in NZ for 18 years (17 of which have involved running URGE).

“You will get a mix of people that you probably won’t get at many other gay events in New Zealand, a very friendly welcome at the door and great DJs. It’s fun, dirty and sexy.” He concludes.

Granville is sitting next to his husband Mick, and opposite his business partner and ex, Paul Heard. The two were together for eight years, when they decided to go their seperate ways but remained in business together. 

“It was our eighth anniversary meal,” Alan tells me, as I pry into their personal lives while tucking into some calamari. “We just looked at each other and asked, ‘do you want to do this anymore?’ We mutually agreed to move on.”

“He really wanted to go live in Australia, and fair enough, but I didn’t, and we just thought, ‘this is the end’, adds Paul, a Kiwi so synonymous with Auckland’s bear community, even before he took over the bar.

While in Australia, Alan still coordinated events and promotions for URGE; in Auckland, Paul continued to run the bar. 

“Australia didn’t work out and I came back,” says Alan matter-a-factly. “So we picked back up but not too long after, the bar had to close.”

At URGE Events’ inaugural party following the closure, Alan’s future husband was the first person to walk in the door. 

Alan labels the relationship the three now have as ‘wonderfully weird.’

“It’s amazing to be still with my business partner, and former partner, and actually still communicate. I couldn’t have imagined doing this with anybody else!” He tells us warmly. 

That warmth is reflected in Paul’s voice as he describes their relationship with their patrons.

“They’re really supportive and caring. During COVID that was quite amazing. We kept canceling parties. Ticketek gave people the option to donate some of the ticket back or get a full refund and it was amazing how many people gave something back!” He exclaims.

URGE Events has transcended an audience of who fondly remember the bar.  “There’s a whole new generation of people that come to our parties. A whole heap who have never been to 490 K Road. They seem to love them, because they keep coming back,” says Paul.

Which begs the question, is there an appetite for one of our major cities for a men’s bar like URGE again?

“There probably is in principle,” theorises Paul, before providing a breakdown of the reality of hospitality’s current plight.  

“Ask your friends in London. Soho has cheaper rents than Auckland. An 89 square meter space in Soho is around 50,000 pounds a year to rent. It’s $160,000 in Auckland. And in New Zealand, you pay for all the outgoings. Over there the landlord pays for everything!”

“It’d be great if somebody wanted to set one up,” chimes in Alan. “It’d be quite brave. They’d have to have some very good financial backers, and we would certainly support whoever would like to do that. Good luck to them.”

I press the question if Alan’s hometown of Wellington would make a better spot, but the answer remains: “We personally would never do it again.”

“I’m enjoying the pop up URGE parties,” admits Paul. “There’s less pressure on us not having to worry about rent, wages or stock.”

“And these days, when we have a party, I have to have at least the Monday off work because I can’t keep up otherwise,” laughs Alan.

If you buy a final release URGE 25 ticket from express recommends taking the Monday off. URGE 25 takes place on Saturday 12 November at Auckland’s Phoenix Cabaret with shows from Anita Wigl’It and Ivana Drink and DJ sets from James Leuii, Everett Wayne and WinnerMick.

Urge 25 Poster design | Simon Stockley.