Davie Street’s new Playhouse makes gay appeal

New owners not deterred by ‘get out of our gaybourhood’ comments

Nathaniel Christopher Xtra [Vancouver, B.C.]
“We’re doing our best to fit in with the neighbourhood and want gay customers to feel that this it their home,” says Playhouse manager Carl Hermansen. “We’re willing to do anything to make that happen.”
Photo: Nathaniel Christopher

The operators of a new nightclub in the former Oasis space say they’re willing to do whatever it takes to secure the trust of the gay community.

“There’s a divide between gay spaces and straight spaces in the nightclub industry and we would like to bridge that,” says Playhouse Lounge manager Carl Hermansen.

“We’re doing our best to fit in with the neighbourhood and want gay customers to feel that this it their home. We’re willing to do anything to make that happen.”

Playhouse Lounge, which is located at 1240 Thurlow St just off Davie Street, in the space that formerly housed the Oasis Lounge, held its grand opening Oct 24, 2015, and is currently open two nights a week.

Operations director Adam Blender says some area residents have complained about the fact that the club is not a dedicated gay space.

“When we opened we were trying to say that we don’t care what gender or sex or anything, just have a good time and have a drink. But [we] quickly realized from comments in the gay community that they weren’t interested in coming to it,” he recalls.

“It had to be more catered to gay community for them to come.”

“People have driven by and yelled, ‘get the fuck out of our fucking gaybourhood,’” he adds. “It’s weird as hell.”

Playhouse doorman Nikita Kremlev says he first heard about the drive-by insults from contractors who were working on the renovations before witnessing it himself.

“The guys were telling me a story from the previous weekend about somebody who walked by and shouted ‘get out of our gaybourhood’ and I was like, ‘no way! That’s pretty random.’ And then a few minutes later someone drove by and yelled it out of a car. I heard it but didn’t notice the car driving by.”

Some residents have expressed concern about the perceived noise and violence of a new nightclub, he says. When the building was being renovated, contractors were approached by an older man who reportedly said, “fuck you, we’ll have you shut down in a month.”

“I believe they had such a bad experience with the previous tenant,” he suggests. “I’m not sure the previous owners were considerate with neighbours about noise complaints. We’ve insulated the hell out of the rooms so the sound doesn’t travel outside and bother the neighbourhood,” he adds.

On another occasion, Kremlev says, a woman came to the nightclub to say that a straight nightclub would be louder and more violent than a gay establishment. “She was accusatory in a sense that apparently we, as a new club, brought some sort of violence or hateful behaviour or something,” he says. “It was very random. She seemed intoxicated and said she was a community activist, but I don’t recall her name.”

Blender invites gay customers to visit the space and make up their own mind.

“There’s no cover charge, so come in have a drink, enjoy the room and you might enjoy yourself,” he says. “The design is inspired by the Great Gatsby era with lots of gold, emerald and black, which is meant to display a much higher-end type of look. It’s the only nightclub in Vancouver with a year-round patio,” he adds.

Blender says they are searching for a gay promoter who is available for weekly gay nights or one-off events.

“We’re really trying to find a gay promoter to bring gay men to enjoy the space and room,” he says. “Our Friday night would be gay and the Saturday would be mixed. I wouldn’t even care if we eventually turned it 100 percent and catered to a gay demographic, but right now we can’t find a gay promoter who is available.”

I am a resident of Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, who has been blogging here for nearly 25 years. I enjoy sharing my thoughts and feelings on my own online platform. From 1998 until 2017, I worked as a journalist, and I have posted most of my articles in the 'News' section of this website.