RBARR Grand Opening

By : Samantha Rosenthal
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Orlando – RBARR, formerly Revolution, opened its doors May 15, reviving the famous Southern Nights Theater. Crowds lined up outside the newly painted building were greeted by stilt walkers as they were led into a fully redecorated venue, complete with topless cocktail servers and dancers throughout.

VH1’s Master of the Mix Brian Dawe deejayed the night with help from national touring deejay and RBARR’s music/entertainment director Justin James.

“The problem with a lot of the gay nightclubs or bars before is they weren’t really talent-centric,” James said. “They weren’t booking any names outside of Orlando. My goal, and the goal of RBARR, is to showcase local, national and international talent.”

With a local DJ lineup for the grand opening weekend, James said people are going to be delightfully surprised by the talent and different celebrities that they are going to bring to RBARR, something he mentioned not many other Orlando clubs or bars are doing. He hopes this too will draw in people of all demographics—LGBT and straight alike.

“I’m taking it upon myself to help change people’s perceptions of ‘gay clubs,'” James said, mentioning that for many straight DJs, playing at a gay club isn’t always received very well.

The weekend of May 17 also marked the return of the Southern Nights Theater at RBARR. Danielle Hunter, the entertainment director for Southern Nights, was a part of the original cast when the theater originally opened. She said she hopes to bring back to life that image and the appreciation of the art of drag, where people took “the time to go to a show and sit down at table, and it was like going to a Broadway show or a theatrical show.”

“We want people just to have a good time and reminisce what Southern Nights used to be like, and the RBARR aspect of having something new that Orlando already doesn’t have to offer,” Hunter said.

She recalled when she first began performing almost 20 years ago, the perception of doing drag and being gay was pretty much taboo. Clubs and venues like Southern Nights allowed for people to be themselves and freer, and Hunter said she hopes to bring that same feeling back with RBARR and the reintroduction of Southern Nights Theater.

“There’s a certain time in your life when you’re prime and you can do anything, and we want to capture that here,” said Wild Bill, manager of RBARR. “We want to bring out that feeling with music and entertainment, bring something new to the community that they haven’t seen before — like the Southern Nights Theater.”

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