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New gay bar set to open in Ottawa

Arts & Entertainment

New gay bar set to open in Ottawa

Drag Queen, Steve Andrade as Cher appearing at the Flamingo BarPierre Fitch - appearing at the Flamingo Bar IMAGE 1 OF 2
The Flamingo takes over space at Elgin and Gladstone

Think cabaret. Think cocktails.

At the end of January, a new gay club in Ottawa will flash its tail feathers, according to Sebastien Provost.

Provost is one of three producers — along with Chris Murray and Doug Muir — who have worked for the past three months preparing for the debut of the Flamingo on Jan 28.

The bar has the financial backing of Ottawa entertainment guru Aydin Kharaghani, of York Entertainment. York Entertainment is one of the city’s club powerhouses, with a stable of nightclubs that includes The Cabin, The Drink and On Tap in the Byward Market.

The Flamingo marks Kharaghani’s first foray into gay clubs.

“The idea for the Flamingo came from one of my visits to Montreal, my hometown, where I saw the variety of entertainment that was available to gays there. I realized that gays in Ottawa did not have the same kinds of options, so I decided to partner with people who knew the community and create a bar experience like no other in the city,” writes Kharaghani in an email.

Kharaghani approached Provost, Murray and Muir in November 2010 and offered them roles in the Flamingo. As producers they helped conceptualize the bar’s theme and will program events on each of the four days a week that the Flamingo will be open.

“What we are most proud of is that we are doing things differently. We want to have a program that appeals to a broad audience,” says Provost. “We have put a lot of time and a lot of thought into it, and we will be bringing in regional, international and local talent — something every night.”

The programming runs the gamut, from dance to live acoustic music. Each producer has his own night. Provost was tapped for Flamingo Live on Fridays, where, he says, the club will turn into a jazz lounge, echoing the main concept behind the bar.

“We wanted to bring back, not only a club or a bar but more of a lounge place,” says Provost.

Provost thinks Ottawa is ready for a new scene. He feels that no gay club has been able to fill the gap left by the demise of Icon in 2004.

“I think that when Icon closed down there was a sense of loss in the city,” he says. “That’s what we are trying, in essence, to capture — a place to call home for everybody: have some dancing, lounge and bring back the show.”

It’s certainly a gamble, and the Flamingo is betting big. Among the plans? A boys’ night on Thursdays, which will compete directly with The Lookout’s long-running Thirsty Boy Thursdays.

The Flamingo will be situated at the corner of Elgin St and Gladstone Ave, in a space that has seen many bars open and close over the years. But for Provost, the location’s hit-and-miss history is not a problem.

“It was never done gay,” says Provost. “I think there are a million straight bars in town and so there is a lot of competition there. I think that when you are opening something such as we are, competition shrinks. I think Ottawa is really craving something new, and we are going to do things differently.”

Provost promises that guests will leave the club wanting to come back for more. He believes that success will rest on two core factors: excellent service and the experience.

“You are going to have a different experience every time you come into the bar because of the way it is going to look,” says Provost. “There will always be something stimulating happening there.”

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It's about damn time someone opened up a new gay nightclub here in Ottawa. The scene hasn't been the same since Icon closed it's doors seven years ago. In my opinion there are three main factors that will determine whether a club is successful or not, music/talent, atmosphere and staff. Flamingo will do well if they focus on those three things. I look forward to checking it out. Peace!
Assumptions Don't Make Friends
J, maybe you shouldn't jump to conclusions - au contraire, at least 75 per cent of the bar's staff are queer.
Straight bar?
They should hire some gay staff. I think almost every single staff member I saw was straight. Straight owned and operated :(
Can't wait...
I will be moving back to Ottawa in the summer, and am looking forward to checking this place out. Hoping a monthly "event" will persuade me to attend often... Cheers...
Coming around full circle
Some of you may not even be aware back in 1990-91 that exact same location was a lesbian bar called DV8's.. that did fine business. I wish them all the best success and am looking forward to spinning there Sunday Feb 13th
its about convenience, not homphobia
I agree with you Johnny, and I will go check it out for sure, but damn it would be convenient if this bar was more in the so called gay area. If I am at one of the other gay bars and I want to switch venues just to browse it would be nice if they were all within easy access of each other. I dunno, it works for retail.
Elgin St
I live on Elgin street and I think the fear of homophobia isn't valid. I walk down the street at anytime and I never feel threatened, I never feel like I'm going to be mugged ever. I know plenty of straight folk who are very gay friendly in this area and are looking forward to the change. If there is homophobic idiots out there, we just show them we are normal people like them and there is nothing to worry about. I highly doubt there will be any problems considering the youth of today all know someone who is gay and most don't care. Just be a normal respectful person guys, they'll treat you the same way back.
I think a lot of lesbians are looking for a place to call there own Flamingo should use Thursdays to cater to them as LookOut's Lesbian night seems to be over fun by guys.. That would be a smart idea give the lesbians a place once a week to do there thing... Ottawa will have 3 great bars once Flamingo Opens..

LookOut, CP's & Flamingo.
Thursday Boys Night = BAD DECISION
Not to bitch, but why is it that whenever a new gay bar opens in the city, it immediately has to "go to war" with another one.

To compete with the Lookout on Thursdays for boys' night is an ABSOLUTELY STUPID idea. There are 7 days in the week. Surely the city is big enough for two "boys' nights" during the week!!!

Why make us choose between Lookout and Flamingo on Thursdays, when we could have the option of going to Flamingo on Wednesdays and Lookout on Thursdays?

If the goal is to get people back in the habit of going out and re-building a scene in this city, dividing the group that currently goes out between two locations is just not a smart idea at all and could lead to the eventual financial downfall of both establishments.

It just doesn't make sense, or cents.
End of Elgin is a great location
I am so excited that they are doing something new! I checked out the website and they have a month of shows and great talent coming in. I don't think I've ever seen a gay venue do anything quite like this in Ottawa! As for safety they have Second Cup, a gay owned salon and Elgin street diner as neighbours which are all gay friendly. I work at the second cup which is always full of gay clientelle and I feel 100% comfortable. A gay bar can be anyhere in this city. We are not limited to certain "zones" and anyone who thinks that is still living in the dark ages. Lookout is packed and they are in the Market next to a bunch of straight bars. Keep up the good work flamingo!


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