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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Is There a Bad Pattern With Seattle's Gay Dance Clubs?

Posted by on Wed, Aug 14, 2013 at 11:34 AM

There's a video that's been making rounds on social media of a fight outside Q nightclub over the weekend:

It appears to show a brawl at Broadway and Pike Street that includes a bouncer backhanding someone involved in the melee. In captions, the video makers claim some folks had used anti-gay language beforehand (which I can't vouch for) and say there was another fight at Q the night before. Along with a shift away from LGBT events at the club, the fight and the changing vibe have some folks wondering if the formerly glitzy gay dance venue is on a downward slide.

If so, Q would mark a trend in the Capitol Hill neighborhood: gay clubs that open with a ton of fanfare turn into straight clubs, they become venues for violence, and then they close.

Just to be super, super clear: I'm not saying Q will close or that it's attracting violence. I'm also not saying gay clubs are safe and straight clubs are dangerous. Lots of very hetero places are super chill and plenty of gay bars have been the venue for fights between wasted, furious twinks and lumbering, angry bears. But I am saying we've seen something an awful lot like this before.

The Social on Olive Way opened with a strong queer nightlife bent, only to devolve into a straight meat-market scene, and then there was a shooting last October. The Social is now closed. Or you may remember Sugar, also at Broadway and Pike, which was flamboyantly homosexual before the programming and crowd shifted to become pretty unwelcoming for gays. A gunman opened fire inside the place in 2007, shooting three victims, and the club later closed. And Q opened last year with marketing and programming that unmistakeably targeted a queer clientele, but now a gay co-owner is out, Q's gay programming has been largely nixed, and fights are apparently spilling into the street.

I called Q owner Andy Rampl, who remains in charge after gay co-owner Scott Smith was bought out. He insisted the Q was never supposed to be a gay bar, per se. "We catered to the gay crowd and straight crowd," he said. "We catered to everyone in Seattle and on Capitol Hill." Nothing has changed, he said.

It's a strange argument. Capitol Hill Seattle reported Q's opening as a "gay" dance club. The Stranger reported it had a bathroom designated for drag queens. There were go-go boys but no go-go girls. The creative director was Kevin Kauer, a well-known gay event promoter behind nights such Dick Slap and the producer of scads of drag shows, and Q was also home to the very gay Trouble Disco. But in the last year, Kauer has left, Trouble Disco is out, the gay co-owner is out, the go-go boys are gone, and Q's Facebook page doesn't present anything remotely gay-looking. As Seattle Gay Scene recently wrote: "Q has veered from themes and nights obviously programmed for the LGBTQ community, when the club first opened, to a current line-up of events that seem to steer away from any queer content."

While Rampl insists Q was never a gay bar—even though gays were always welcome—the programming and marketing has unquestionably taken a turn to the het. And what makes a gay bar a gay bar is its promotion and programming, not just the people who show up—and the programming and marketing of Q was unmistakably gay.

It's possible that the market just doesn't support additional gay dance clubs in Capitol Hill, so owners need a broader clientele to stay afloat. For whatever reason, fancy gay dance clubs on Capitol Hill just seem to struggle (while stalwart, endearingly seedy gay dance clubs places like R-Place and Neighbours plug on unfazed).

Rampl says the other fight mentioned in the video "was an altercation, but not a full fight. There are not issues with violence. The appeal of Q should not have changed because we are still a beautiful space."

Q is a beautiful space, but it's a space that seems increasingly troubled.


Comments (45) RSS

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I, for one, never thought of Q as a "gay bar". Its one of the best bars in the city for good house music (Jimi Jaxon from Disco Droppings has spun there at least once) and it is indeed a very beautiful space. In my mind Q is a bar that supports gay rights and has plenty of gay patronage as well as straight patronage. Maybe the definition of "gay bar" is unclear. Does "gay bar" mean a bar where LGBTQ people are welcome and equal or a "safe space" for LGBTQ people and confirmed allies with implied exclusivity from non-LGBTQ people? Maybe that definition is changing? I'd be curious to find out, in general, which bars on the hill are considered "gay bars" and which aren't. I'm not sure it would be trivial to reach a consensus on that kind of list.
Posted by algorhythm99 on August 14, 2013 at 11:51 AM · Report this
"I'd be curious to find out, in general, which bars on the hill are considered "gay bars" and which aren't."
- I should add "other than the obvious of course."
Posted by algorhythm99 on August 14, 2013 at 11:53 AM · Report this
I'm not familiar with Sugar or anything on Capitol Hill,

but I assume when you say "the programming and crowd shifted to become pretty unwelcoming for gays" you meant, "they started playing hip-hop music"
Posted by fetish on August 14, 2013 at 11:55 AM · Report this
Dominic Holden 4
@3) Nope. R-Place has had a hip-hop rotation for years.
Posted by Dominic Holden on August 14, 2013 at 11:58 AM · Report this
As the owner and marketing confirm, it's no longer intended to be a gay club, so we should stop referring to it as one. If people want to drink and dance at a place where they can feel comfortable being out and open about their sexuality, they'll have to decide whether Q's new target demographic affects that. Incidents like this brawl, and rumors that they back out of hosting LGBT events that they committed to doing at the last minute, probably won't help.
Posted by caphill2013 on August 14, 2013 at 12:02 PM · Report this
Fnarf 6
Thirty years ago when I worked in a bookstore/coffeehouse in suburban California, we shared a building (and bathrooms, ugh) with an ultra-hetero meat market directly overhead. Every night at 9 PM the lights would start to sway back and forth to the tune of "West End Girls" by the Pet Shop Boys (oh, the irony), and within an hour of that the fights in the parking lot would start. Always two bros fighting over a chick, or a real or imagined slight. Sometimes they'd come into our store and fight; once they came through the plate glass window at 1 AM. Every goddamn night.

Can we just neuter them?
Posted by Fnarf on August 14, 2013 at 12:03 PM · Report this
fletc3her 7
The place is named "Q".

Which I guess is a Star Trek reference, but it's somewhat suggestive as a club name on Capitol Hill.

I've enjoyed going there. Unfortunately they seem to promote every artist including their resident djs as must see events so it's pretty hit or miss. Definitely a gay crowd when I've been there, but it's been a while.
Posted by fletc3her on August 14, 2013 at 12:09 PM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 8
Young males bring the threat of violence with them everywhere they go. Testosterone makes you violent, competitive, and withdrawn if left to its own devices.

Add booze and a limited supply of available mates, and fights will happen every single time.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on August 14, 2013 at 12:11 PM · Report this
AirBuddy 9
Did that fight bleed into other incidents that night? There was a crazy altercation where guns were allegedly flashed at about 2:30 AM up the street in the First Baptist Church's parking lot.…
Posted by AirBuddy on August 14, 2013 at 12:13 PM · Report this
Mittens Schrodinger 10
Maybe there just isn't enough of a shiny/sparkly/plastic gay presence here in Seattle to support those types of clubs. Maybe Seattle likes its gay with a little raunchy realness, an older venue with a bit of history, rather than a newer superficial development that has the high prices and high-gloss surfaces to match.
Posted by Mittens Schrodinger on August 14, 2013 at 12:19 PM · Report this
SpecialBrew 11
Did Q shift away from gay marketing because Seattle gays were too small town and cheap to pay the covers? Q was bringing in DJ talent that you'd pay $50-$60 for in Toronto, Chicago or SF and I couldn't believe the Seattle queer hand-wringing and kvetching over the high covers of $20 or $15!! Never mind they paid $60 to hear the exact same DJ last San Diego Pride on a sound system that wasn't quite as good as Q's (credit where it's due).

I can't blame the place if the gay community wasn't going there in the necessary numbers or if the gay community was misguidedly viewing it as
just another $5 cover alternative to Neighbours or the Cuff. It was meant to be one of those electronica/house music clubs that bring in DJSs and charges "ticket style" covers depending on the talent no? If the gay community wasn't supporting that concept in this town with their money I can't blame them for focusing on another market who might.

Posted by SpecialBrew on August 14, 2013 at 12:19 PM · Report this
Mittens Schrodinger 12
@8, young males in the het sense, yes. But I've seen more fights (meaning physical altercations) from young lesbians than from young gay men...though still super-rare compared to het boys. If you want to talk about bitchy screaming fights (non-physical), then yeah...the gay boys have everybody beat.
Posted by Mittens Schrodinger on August 14, 2013 at 12:25 PM · Report this
Timrrr 13
Why are you acting surprised? Q was always, at best, a "closeted" gay club.

It was gay enough on the inside and to those in the know, but it always wanted to act & look straight to the outside world - so's not to make the straights uncomfortable or scare them away.

(I remember talking to a bouncer soon after it opened who was in complete denial about the gayness of his workplace. "It's not a gay club, it's a dance club that's all. And a lot pf gays like to dance."
Posted by Timrrr on August 14, 2013 at 12:25 PM · Report this
"I'm also not saying gay clubs are safe and straight clubs are dangerous. Lots of very hetero places are super chill and plenty of gay bars have been the venue for fights between wasted, furious twinks and lumbering, angry bears."

Sorry, but while nothing is absolute there are a lot more fights per capita at straight venues than gay venues, especially when it comes to dance clubs.

There's just something about the dynamics of everyone being a potential lay vs. a binary gender situation where males compete for females.
Posted by decidedlyodd on August 14, 2013 at 12:29 PM · Report this
Last of the Time Lords 15
Q has always had the same mix as Neighbors: it's the "gay" club straights hang out at to show they like the queers.

That being said I think the days of an all gay dance club are dying out. And that's both good news (we have arrived babe!!) and bad news (the clubs that like us attract the 20-somthing male assholes who like to get into fights)
Posted by Last of the Time Lords on August 14, 2013 at 12:42 PM · Report this
Dominic it really reads like you are more worried about clubs becoming "hetero" than the actual violence.
Posted by Zander on August 14, 2013 at 12:43 PM · Report this
I find it interesting that they omit all the
Posted by verbinfolly on August 14, 2013 at 12:58 PM · Report this
This Rampl guy is in serious denial when it comes to how poorly marketed/managed his place is. He needs to say something that doesn't reek of BS if he wants any chance at repairing relationships with the neighborhood. Otherwise Q will just be another Social.
Posted by dak7e on August 14, 2013 at 1:03 PM · Report this
As a Club dyke out frequently; to both Gay and lesbian clubs, I have certainly seen my share of girl-girl "fighting", this usually consists of some tiresome fronting; *maybe* a shove or a push. Name calling...

The same with the twinkies. Shoving.
BFD...someone's Prada glasses fly off their carefully coiffed hair...

Interestingly enough' despite my hours and hours in Bear bars I have never even seen that.

I have NEVER seen true violence, as described in this article; ANYWHERE BUT STRAIGHT CLUBS. Period. I have been going to clubs; not just in SEA; but world wide; for 20+ years; and this is true...
Posted by Haulie on August 14, 2013 at 1:06 PM · Report this
Ok, so it's not following the gay-to-straight trajectories of Sugar and The Social. Then is it going way of Club Lagoon.
Posted by CommonKnowledge on August 14, 2013 at 1:24 PM · Report this
Fred Casely 21
...and plenty of gay bars have been the venue for fights between wasted, furious twinks and lumbering, angry bears.
That sounds like such an unfair matchup. As far as I'm concerned, Gay Fight Club ought to be all about the hot wasted-twink-on-wasted-twink action anyway.
Posted by Fred Casely on August 14, 2013 at 1:24 PM · Report this
@11 only losers, posers, and scenesters pay cover for recorded music.
Posted by fetish on August 14, 2013 at 1:44 PM · Report this
SpecialBrew 23
#22 No people who want to dance on ecstasy or other club drugs do. You can't expect a place to put that kind of money into a soundsystem, bring in a DJ from Montreal or Miami, and then think they are going to make their money on $4 bottles of water. Hence a cover of 20$ or more which is par for the course in other cities.

I moved to Seattle in 1998 and the cover for Neighbours was $5. It's still $5. They make their money on the drinks. Now some nights Q is more about the drinks I'm sure but I'm referred to the specifically gay-themed events where they brought in DJs with a gay, circuit party following and people still seemed to think it was a $5 alternative to Neighbours or the Cuff.

Thinking about it, it might not be that Seattle gay boys were cheap maybe the club just didn't do a good enough job making it clear that's the type of place they were. Or maybe they never were that...but it did seem that was the schtick they were attempted based on the promotions. If for whatever reason the gay community in Seattle weren't looking for that I can't blame them for trying another model.
Posted by SpecialBrew on August 14, 2013 at 1:54 PM · Report this
This clusterfuck was brought to you by Chase and Dominos.
Posted by ja onpnthr on August 14, 2013 at 2:05 PM · Report this
brandon 25
I'll stick to the bear-friendly bars, thank you.
Posted by brandon on August 14, 2013 at 2:35 PM · Report this
SchmuckyTheCat 26
Q probably made more money on Saturday night than any night since they opened. Celebrity cameos, furries, stilt walkers... sounds like fun. And furries are pretty gay, usually.

Didn't the Neighbours security get in a brawl with off-duty cops last year? There simply isn't an argument that one catfight is all that interesting except the "gay" community is upset that Q had a format change on a weekend.

I choose my nightlife based on the type of music I want to hear. "Gay" isn't a music genre. If "gay" is your criteria for where to go, then don't go. Why all the hand wringing over a format change?

Posted by SchmuckyTheCat on August 14, 2013 at 2:45 PM · Report this
As someone who worked clubs for a few years it's kind of shocking to see security hit people in this video. Regardless of who the aggressor is it's the stupidest thing you can do. And a sure way to get charges or law suits brought against you and the club. That this security guard felt that hitting was a legitimate go-to move tells me this club has shitty management and even rookier security. Somebody has seen Roadhouse too many times. So there is that.

Second. THIS is what you get, Capitol Hill, when you want to become the hip party destination corridor that attracts twenty somethings every weekend night. Guess what? Once you reach a critical mass you can't control who those people are or how they will behave.

Now do you understand when every other neighborhood got tired of being over saturated with nightclubs and bars? Because this shit is inevitable and it only gets worse.

Posted by tkc on August 14, 2013 at 2:48 PM · Report this
SchmuckyTheCat 28
The Social closed because they were operating under a provisional liquor license. They didn't get a permanent one because WSLCB wasn't convinced the ownership wasn't a proxy for something shady. It didn't close because of noise, or violence, or whatever. It was a WSLCB issue. It was incredibly successful when it closed. That promotion team took over the Saturdays at Q, and it looks like a successful choice.
Posted by SchmuckyTheCat on August 14, 2013 at 3:02 PM · Report this
very bad homo 29
I'm sure Q would do well in L.A. It seems really out of place on Capitol Hill.
Posted by very bad homo on August 14, 2013 at 3:03 PM · Report this
I've seen many grand openings and many grand closings on Capitol Hill. Q would be a better fit in Jersey. Fuck Q for bringing this culture clash to Capitol Hill. I predict they will be shut down by the end of the year and It won't be pretty. That's what they get for inviting homophobes to our hill!
Posted by Erok on August 14, 2013 at 3:44 PM · Report this
Q is a horrible excuse for a "dance" club. The music is horrible. that is why it attracts horrible people. It's not rocket science people. Re-Bar has had the longest running electronic music scene on the west coast. It's dark and smelly the bathrooms are disgusting, but guess where I go to dance to good music? I'll give you a hint.. Not Q!
Posted by Cymaticus on August 14, 2013 at 4:29 PM · Report this
Thank's DH for looking into this but TKC's second point is the real story. Bars/night clubs in the Pike/Pine corridor now program their music to attract and satisfy the new, younger bridge & tunnel crowd that takes over the area on weekends and creates all of these disturbances. It's simple profit over community.

It should also be noted that the Saturday night party that was happening at the Social when it closed, Kingdom, now happens at Q and was happening the night that video was shot.
Posted by whosehillisit? on August 14, 2013 at 7:03 PM · Report this
Don't forget Blue! The exact same thing happened there. It was in the 95-Slide (War Room) space 10 years ago. It was truly a gay bar. Then they started having promotional nights that catered to out-of-towners via radio advertising. The folks that showed up weren't expecting gays and too many of them were openly homophobic. The gays showed up as usual on these nights, were made to not feel welcome, and stopped going there. It quickly went downhill and out of business.
Posted by gar on August 14, 2013 at 8:02 PM · Report this
Q is sponsoring AMDEF at Neumos next Saturday which is a benefit for Social Outreach. Just because the "gay" nights and DJ's they had there weren't drawing so they got rid of them doesn't mean they're abondoning anybody or any scene.
Posted by Boingo on August 14, 2013 at 10:44 PM · Report this
@28, if you think the WSLCB doesn't pay attention to such things, then you are woefully misinformed. The reason the Social couldn't get a permanent liquor license is not just because of potentially shady business dealings. They had had many, many incidents resulting in calls to the SPD. That shit goes on your record if you are applying for a liquor license. Constant fights? Overserving? Shootings? Many repeat noise complaints and violations? You got that, you ain't gettin' a liquor license, honey. (PS they only had one "successful" night, Kingdom, which is also primarily the reason they got shut down).
Posted by Fuster on August 14, 2013 at 10:49 PM · Report this
Q started with a pretty fey name for a club, tragically hip decor lifted from a 90's film version of what "edgy gay clubs in an Araki movie would look like", and very bored, beefy bouncers who tried to convince me to come in on an off night when I walked by. I dunno, as much as I want to blame the encroaching "heterosexualization" of the Pike/Pine corridor - I just see really bad business planning underneath a veneer of "vision". Anyone who knew the story of the Social was that it already started in the hole.
Posted by Geodes on August 14, 2013 at 11:26 PM · Report this
To add to #27 comment. One if the rules of working the door "If the fight is outside the club do not go outside the club. Now you are down three bouncer outside the club and things are going to pop off inside and black Kojak is backhanding kids outside. I hope there is no cameras around? Oh wait never mind. As far as straight vs gay the straights fight 1000 times to 1 fight with gays I think it's because if your gay you get laid more and your not a drunk asshole.
Posted by sugarbear on August 15, 2013 at 12:50 AM · Report this
SchmuckyTheCat 38
@35 - it's a matter in the public record. Look it up. Those things may have contributed, but weren't the primary.
Posted by SchmuckyTheCat on August 15, 2013 at 12:34 PM · Report this
#34- Nothing has been drawing at Q because they refuse to advertise anything. The most recent Saturdays at Q were drawing fine...Politics & internal incompetence. And wow! What a coincidence that out of the 5 dj's that no longer work at Q ALL WERE GAY.
Posted by FuniKomi on August 15, 2013 at 3:11 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 40
@3: "but I assume when you say "the programming and crowd shifted to become pretty unwelcoming for gays" you meant, "they started playing hip-hop music""

More ignorance from Fetish, what a surprise.

No, they likely meant "broish club kids" and the douchiness they bring.

Back to the topic. I wonder what this shift to straight programming had to do with Nark's exit. It's a shame, I like the venue, but haven't really dug all the crowd they've had lately.
Posted by undead ayn rand on August 17, 2013 at 12:28 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 41
@36: "Q started with a pretty fey name for a club"

You must not be a fan of electronic music-
Posted by undead ayn rand on August 17, 2013 at 12:30 PM · Report this
reverend dr dj riz 42
@40..i think @39's observation is key
'What a coincidence that out of the 5 dj's that no longer work at Q ALL WERE GAY. '
you don't really need gay dj's to insure a crowd, but if you start with 5 and 9 months later end up with none.well ...
Posted by reverend dr dj riz on August 17, 2013 at 3:23 PM · Report this
Neighbours is still a gay club? Since when? Last time I went in there years ago, all the rainbow stuff had been taken down. I remember getting patted down for there for the first time ever, AND the staff gave my guy friend and his date shit for making out, told them they were being too "racy"? Really? WTF?! That's not the Neighbours I remember back in 2002 when I was making out with a guy with our hands down each others pants and the staff didn't lift an eyebrow. Unless they queered it back up in the last few years, Neighbours long since went the way of Sugar and Q. Maybe part of it is the gentrification of Cap Hill anyway, and the end of gay culture. The straight yuppies who want to think of themselves as hipsters move in while the gays integrate into the suburbs. Gays and straights seem to be trading venues amusingly, or sadly enough.
Posted by hifiandrew on August 17, 2013 at 11:02 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 44
@42: Oh yeah. I'm sure there's no coincidence there. If it slides into yet another Jersey-Shore/South Beach/Vegas-style club for straightbro douchers, I won't be sad to see it go. I just like their sound and light system :(
Posted by undead ayn rand on August 18, 2013 at 5:29 PM · Report this
@26 - says the hetero creepster dude who has never even lived on Capitol Hill.
Posted by Bugger off, broseurs on November 14, 2013 at 1:39 AM · Report this

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