An acclaimed gay bar in the Old Town that closed at the start of the pandemic is one more step towards reopening its doors. And while the potential new owner is considering dropping the Spiral Dance Bar name, he wants to keep its inclusive theme as a haven for the LGBTQ + community.
Lansing City Council on Monday approved a liquor license transfer in the old Spiral building to Lorenzo’s LLC – a company owned by Adam Brewer, a local owner and resident of Okemos who has been negotiating a purchase contract since the summer. Now, the transfer only needs the approval of the Michigan Liquor Control Commission before the sale is finalized.
“We thought we could open in October, but now we’re not totally sure,” Brewer explained. “It depends on the liquor license. It may take a few weeks or it may take a few months. We have a new name and we could open as early as four weeks after we got the license.
Brewer has said he will not release the club’s new name until the $ 800,000 sale is finalized with current owner Tom Donall. But he stressed that very little will change about the place – it will still be marketed as a gay bar. There will always be drag shows. There will always be live entertainment.
Brewer’s lawyer Amanda Dernovshek said the club – whenever it reopens – will continue to operate “the same way” on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays with dancing and music. She called the plans a “continuation” of the old spiral, with a new owner and a new name.
The purchase agreement between Donall and Brewer is based on the transfer of his liquor license and provides for the payment of $ 60,000 at closing and four additional lump sum payments of $ 20,000. The remaining balance of $ 460,000 – which includes the liquor license – will be paid monthly.
“The spiral closed at the start of the endemic and the new owner is looking to reopen it with some minor changes in store,” said Vice Chairman of the Board, Adam Hussain. “The types of licenses are historically what Spiral already had. They just want to continue the same operations.
Spiral closed last March due to the pandemic and has never reopened. Brewer, from Leslie, said he made a non-refundable deposit on the property in September. He’s planning some renovations, but he said guests can still expect an LGBTQ +-focused entertainment destination, with lots of music, dancing and live entertainment. The latest city license transfer still calls for ‘topless’ dancers – that is, half-naked men in banana hammocks.
Donall, who originally brought Spiral to market in April 2019, said maintaining the central theme of the old nightclub and dance bar was an extremely important aspect of the potential sale. The only other specifically designated LGBTQ + bar in Grand Lansing is Esquire Bar, one block from the Old Town. However, this club does not allow people under the age of 21 to enter. And while there is a small dance floor, it’s mostly just a neighborhood bar designed for socializing.
In a world where the LGBTQ + community is increasingly accepted and defined sexual identities become less and less rigid, Donall recognized that almost any bar can now be considered a gay bar. Still, he thinks it’s important to carve out a specific space for yourself.
“I think a lot of people like to come to gay clubs – and not just gay people,” Donall said. “The music and the people are fun. People love to spend time with the gay community. I also think that with all the crazy things going on in the world, it’s important to keep our community together.
Spiral opened in 2000 as part of an influx of new investment in the Old Town. It was also a time of upheaval for the city’s gay bars, which had been ousted from Michigan Avenue to make way for the baseball stadium. Its creation helped anchor Old Tovwn as an LGBTQ + stronghold.
Donall also owns and operates The Palace, a leading gay bar in Miami Beach. He told City Pulse that he decided to sell Spiral to focus his attention on his other business activities.
“I’m not in Lansing anymore and it’s just difficult to run the business there. The whole time I was hoping someone would take it over and keep it as a gay bar, ”Donall said. Brewer said he owned several other properties in the Old Town. He owned Brewer Iron and Metal, a local recycling business focused on recycling and selling used cars. He sold the business to Padnos and now tows vehicles to them for recycling with his towing company, Gigi’s. He also owns rental properties under various companies: Old Town LLC; Drew LLC and Brewer Housing LLC.
More than 100 people shared a post on Facebook saying he was looking for employees for the new club. Brewer told City Pulse this week that hiring was going “well” ahead of launch.
Rodger Geissman, also known as DJ Lipgloss, has also been hired as Entertainment Director and Show Director for the new gay club. Geissman has a long history in Michigan’s LGBTQ + community developing and promoting drag shows from Lansing to Grand Rapids.
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