Columbus has a new gay bar, and even though it’s only been open a month, word has spread across the region.
“Last Saturday we had people driving all the way from Albany and Auburn to come to the club,” said “Lady” Latweet Weldon, co-owner of The Velvet Room at 1818 Midtown Drive. “They’re loving it. They’re loving the music, they’re loving the atmosphere, they’re loving the drinks.”
Weldon says that The Velvet Room is simply meant to be a safe and fun place for the entire community.
“My goal is to get the club off the ground and running and to have a safe place for everybody to go. And it’s for everybody — it’s a gay club, but if you’re straight and you want to come, there’s no problem about it. You just know what you’re getting into.”
The Velvet Room is open Friday and Saturday nights from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. for those 21 and older.
Co-owner Jeremy Hobbs says he plans to add a Wednesday night Mature Audiences Only event soon.
“That doesn’t mean strippers,” he quickly pointed out. “It means people who don’t want to go out to the loud club. They just want to come out, enjoy company, and sip a few cocktails.”
Later, Hobbs and Weldon plan to hold karaoke nights, comedy stand-ups, drag shows and many other events. They say they are also trying to figure out how they might do a weekly youth night for those under 21.
“I want everybody to come,” Weldon said. “We’re trying to get everybody involved.”
The Velvet Room is located in the same parcel as the old Club Medallion, a nightclub that was plagued by reports of criminal activity before closing.
“The area does have some bad rap in the past,” Hobbs said. “But we have good security — we have two security guards — and that’s very important.”
Hobbs says that he hopes the area could eventually become “an LGBT safe zone and shopping strip,” and he says he has been talking with Columbus Councilor “Pops” Barnes about the possibilities.
“I want to make sure that our LGBT community has everything that they need to be successful,” he said. “The money that we raise from this just goes right back into running the bar.”
While they are optimistic, Hobbs and Weldon say the are worried about whether there is enough community support to sustain the club in the long term. Hobbs named eight gay bars in Columbus that have opened and then inevitably failed.
“It’s so hard to get people to invest, and it’s even harder for the LGBT community to come together and support things to keep them open,” Hobbs said. “The Columbus LGBT community should be very proud to have this opportunity. They have an option here — they can either support it or go on for the rest of their days griping.”
Scott Berson: 706-571-8578, @ScottBersonLE