The former home of a beloved local LGBTQ+ institution takes on new life with the opening of Bloom OTR. The inclusive nightclub takes over the space previously occupied by Under Zero Lounge – the nationally acclaimed bar that closed in April after 15 years.
Bloom is scheduled to open June 24, in concert with Cincinnati Pride weekend festivities.
Emma Nurre, co-owner and COO of Bloom, says the bar’s goal is to play on the building’s history, creating a safe space that also features drinking, dancing and drag shows.
“We really just bought the space for our community,” Nurre said. CityBeat. “We found the right group of people who were willing to invest and keep the bar a queer space. Ultimately, it’s to honor the legacy of Under Zero and the impact it has had on our community. .”
But it won’t be exactly the same as bar patrons remember.
Bloom’s team flipped the space. Where Below Zero offered weekend drag shows in the upstairs cabaret, Bloom renovated the first floor to open it up to host a slew of weekly performances, as well as the rest of the revelry that comes with a nightclub.
And, playing on Bloom’s name, Nurre says the interior decor now leans to “elegant” and is dotted with floral prints by international artist Frank Moth.
“I hate to use the word ‘woman’ or ‘feminine’ too much because the bar is all about everyone, and that’s what I hope to see represented, but on the design side, we’ve redone the floor – it’s all wood – (and) the back bar has this beautiful wooden backsplash. We have a marble bar; there’s a green wall in front. It gives — to me — sexy, elegant. Cultivated and sexy, that’s the vibe.
Famous Cincinnati drag queen Jessica Dimon has been cast as show director for Bloom.
“We really want to be Cincinnati’s first show bar (and) dance club,” she said. CityBeat.
Dimon says customers will recognize many of the in-house cast members she put together.
“We’re going to bring in some familiar faces so when you walk in, you feel like you’re in the same place, with a different name — like an upgraded model,” she says. “So it always feels like home.”
Currently, Dimon has plans for Wednesday-Saturday shows, with a concept yet to be determined for Sunday.
“Wednesdays will be a burlesque type show, Thursdays will be like a RuPaul’s Drag Race competition-type show, and then Friday and Saturday we’ll have a huge (drag) show with different celebrity guests,” she says. types of drag right now.”
These concepts of diversity and inclusion are buzzwords for Dimon and Nurre as they work to develop Bloom.
“My priority (is) to make sure our community feels safe,” says Nurre. “I feel like there are spaces that are considered gay bars in our community, but they’re less accepting of our queer family of color, our women, our lesbians. I’ve been saying this from the jump: lesbians I really want everyone to come out. We don’t adapt to a certain audience, we just adapt to the needs of the community, I think, and it’s a larger space. It’s brand new – we are about to completely shape from the bottom up what is the culture that we cultivate in our space.”
Bloom is hosting a series of opening events starting with DJs on June 24, followed by an appearance on the Pride Parade on June 25 and a paying show by RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 12 winner Jaida Essence Hall that night (find tickets here). On June 26, the bar will host a trunk show from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. with queer artists and designers. A portion of the proceeds will go to Transform Cincy, a non-profit organization that provides a free closet to transgender and gender non-conforming youth.
For now, only the lower part of Bloom is expected to open this month, but Nurre says the bar plans to open the upper floor in two to three months. While the concept hasn’t been revealed yet, she says, “All I can say is get ready to dance.”
With the grand opening in sight, Bloom hopes to grow and thrive in the space that was left when Under Zero closed – something the show’s director, Dimon, badly needs.
“I really went through hell with COVID, and we all survived and made it, and then we lost Under Zero,” she says. With that, it’s like a brand new start. A new era has begun, and I think that’s what we really, really need.”
“I hope the community embraces Bloom for all she is and can be. The karma of this space is so beautiful,” Nurre says. from the community come and feel welcome.”
Bloom OTR is located at 1120 Walnut St., Over-the-Rhine. For more information, visit bloomotr.com and instagram.com/bloomotr.
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