by Kathleen St. John on April 30, 2010
There’s always a lot going on in LoDo. Bars, clubs, restaurants, professional sporting events, huge concerts — most nights, it’s a pretty busy place, packed with activity. There’s one thing missing, though: a decent gay bar.
Gay megaclub Tracks (3500 Walnut St.) isn’t too far away, but it’s more in the hip River North district. Right now, there’s nothing in LoDo, the heart of downtown Denver’s night life scene.
Bill Ward is looking to change that. The owner of LoDo lounge Below (1422 Larimer St.), Ward is taking Below in a new, gay- friendly direction starting this weekend. “From what I know, there’s never been a gay club in LoDo,” Ward says. “There have been gay nights … (but) we’re thinking this is going to be a good move, especially on Larimer Square.”
Below is in an alley just behind the tony shops and restaurants of Larimer Square, and Ward hopes the same clientele will want to hang out and have a drink after their downtown activities. “It’s very underground, very dungeon-ous,” he says. “It has a very cool feel … It’ll provide a more intimate space. (There are) places for dancing, but also a little bit of lounging.”
Ward points out, too, that the new Below isn’t going to be exclusive. “We’re not alienating anyone,” he says. “It’ll just be predominantly gay.”
On Thursday, Below hosted its grand reopening celebration with local DJ extraordinaire Rockstar Aaron. Over the coming weeks. Ward says his team will be working on bringing in similarly popular DJs and promoters to find the right tone.
“We really have to integrate the market and let everyone find out about it,” he says. “We want it to be a nicer establishment, and we really want to get a good crowd down there.”
The crowd may be changing, but Ward says Below itself will be about the same. Why mess with a good thing? “Our changes are going to be limited to décor, lighting and furniture, plus making a bigger dance floor and opening up areas,” he says. “The changes will be minimal but for people who’ve been down there it will noticeable.”
With all that goes on in LoDo and downtown, it was only a matter of time before someone took up the challenge to create a gay-friendly hangout. Below is outside of the usual gay enclaves, but it’s right in the middle of the action.
“I can’t believe that there hasn’t been something like this in LoDo up to this point,” says Ward. “I have so many gay friends it’s ridiculous. The audience is there … I think it will be awesome.”
For now, Below is open Thursday through Saturday nights, with plans to expand hours soon. Enter through the alley between Larimer and Lawrence on the 1400 block.
– What’s better than one piano? –
The Chez Cirque (7600 Landmark Way, Greenwood Village) dueling-piano bar hosts its grand- opening celebration tonight and Saturday. Located in the busy Landmark development, Chez Cirque promises a full night of entertaiment, with pounding pianos, comedy and dancing.
The two-level venue has a main floor with tables and the stage, and a second-floor mezzanine with rows of seats and a VIP area. Make sure you come thirsty: In addition to a full bar and bottle service, Chez Cirque has a list of “Buckets of Booze”: Long Island Iced Tea, margaritas and something scary called “Tutti Fruitti.”
Learn more at lecirqueduelingpianos.com.
– Kathleen St. John