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allons acadiana

Volume 15/Issue 23

by J.D. Norris

Three's No Crowd For
Lafayette's Jefferson Street

H alloween came and went for the Hub City two weeks hence and it was nothing scary for revelers along Lafayette's Jefferson Street. For the first time in any local's memory, three major nightclubs have opened within mere blocks of each other giving the local gay community something to crow about. And with the local economy pumping right along and a major choice in nighttime entertainment, the official war of the nightclubs is on!

At least it would seem that way with club owners nearly stumbling over themselves with revamping this, remodeling that, paying top dollar for some of the most sought-after DJs in the state. Forget the dinner parties, krewe socials and quiet Saturday nights in front of the space heater gorging on Ben & Jerry's; go party girl! If you've been hermiting your ass the past few weeks keeping off the dance floors and away from the barstools, it's time you get a little tutoring on what's going on.

I'll start my little review with the most recent site to open its door, the Sound Factory! Say it loud! John Gilland has turned the less-than-energetic former "Quarter" into South Louisiana's newest dance emporium. John bought the building after bowing out of Images a couple of months back. The Sound Factory has obviously had the biggest workout of a rash of recent remodeling since Gilland completely gutted the place and started all over again, from the carpet up. SF has plenty of room, enough to rival that of Images and many New Orleans nightclubs, to socialize and dance, dance, dance. He's also brought over the Sunday evening drag and talent competition that other clubs are doing now, so there's something for everybody here. I love the look, (apparently, so does big daddy Gilland. He's confessed to spending plenty of time & money recently eyeing nightclubs from Texas to New York for decor and design ideas).

Of course there's a hint of the familiar regardless of all the new styles, toys and people. Ms. Connie and Lady Debra are managing Sound Factory and have added their own touches while John was fixing up. Music wise, SF is most excellent, especially the spins from the crew of DJs John has hired. You go big daddy G, (who, by the way, recently turned a mere 30-something.) John has made exceptions for almost every mood in his newest club keeping the popular, weekday-inhabited card table for the locals who enjoy a little poker with their gin, as well as a huge, darker and oh-so-cozier area for playing pool-pocket or table varieties, if you know what I mean. I still can't get over that laser mural thing that keeps circulating on the big tin wall. Vogue! While The Sound Factory may not be a small cozy hideaway kind of lounge, it does give a little taste of almost everything you'd want while spending a night out. And check out those Herb Ritts-inspired ads they've been running!! Congrats to John, Connie & Debra, and to the (literally) hundreds of folks that packed the club on its inaugural night, Oct. 31st. C'est bon!

Jules Tavern has opened across from Images. Owners Ron Vincent and Randy Templet have brought a little bit of the San Francisco eclectic style to the gay strip with a cruisey, social & dance club mix. I love the Spanish-styled suit of armor standing gallantly behind the bar shining from flares of neon lights. What I've seen from this new favorite spot is the mixed crowd and an almost constant flow of interesting folks pulling up to the bar. Of the three clubs now open along the way, Jules quite likely will provide the most comfortable setting for hanging out and having a beer with friends and acquaintances. Not that it out-does its downtown competitors, but Ron & Randy have gone to great lengths to set a comfortable, mixed atmosphere for the club and that's exactly what they've accomplished.

Making use of the more private city parking garage helps attract even more, not-so-out clientele to the spot with a backdoor entrance. Oh, and there's something else here you're not going to find at any other club or bar in Lafayette, straight or otherwise-a back courtyard complete with little bar. Ron says the area will expand and hopefully attract those Sunday-afternoon margarita drinkers!

You could say I've saved the best for last. But you could be wrong, I'll leave it up to you. What I will tell you about the city's most senior and popular nightclub is that owner Lori Wheat and manager Augie have made some tremendous changes to Images, arguably (but just barely) the largest nightclub in the state of Louisiana. Home of everything from the Ms. Gay Louisiana America and Mr. & Ms. National Apollo pageants, Images is working hard at keeping up with the Gillands, the Vincents and the Templets by doing some revamping of its own, and the outcome is dramatic.

If you're planning on dropping by the bayou dance capital anytime soon, or have stayed away during all the remodeling, it's okay to come back now. Aside from new carpet, restrooms and other choice decor revamps, Images has added something a lot of us have been howling for in a nightclub for a long, long time. The club's west side, once reserved for pool tables and a retreat from the dance floor set, has been transformed into a huge, semi-soundproof quiet area. Yours truly got to take peeks every now and then at what the workers were doing and, as of last weekend, Wheat and company have opened up the social setting to the general public. Complete with sofas, soft carpeting and mood lighting, Images is giving us a break from all the high energy dance music DJ Alyson spins almost nightly (for those of us who want a break, that is), very sheik and a fresh idea we older girls might remember the old Neimen's in Baton Rouge that was all the rave in the early to mid eighties. Neimen's had very much the same idea which worked well with the club's clientele.

If that isn't enough to get you pumped over Lafayette's night life, check out the zillion-dollar light show the club has installed-lasers going everywhere, new fog machine-incredible. And DJ Alyson, one of South Louisiana's most popular spin divas, is running the show. You geaux girl! And here's a little dish you probably haven't heard yet concerning the club. Lori and partner Dawn are adding a gift and novelty shop to the club Manifique! Dawn says she isn't sure yet what the name will be, if there is one, but they've already got plenty of stock on hand-T-shirts, freedom rings, cards, stickers and other novelties-what a plan!

Ball Season Heats Up

With Big R.O.U. Announcement Party! We're one step closer to the carnival season as the Royal Order of Unicorn will officially announce its king and queen of Ball Masque XIV this weekend, (Saturday, Nov. 15), at the home of krewe member Ted Gallagher. My sweet baboo John (Breaux) and I met up last week with queen-elect Stephanie Stevens who threatened us with a heel to the forehead if we didn't show up. It's been a while since I rubbed elbows with the ROU gang, so I'll post an update on the fashionable evening in the next issue.

Scene & Noted

What a show we saw during the Sound Factory's Sun day night show two weeks ago watching local favorites Tori Taylor, Tayler Stevens, Savannah Lee and the incomparable, inspirational and hair-raising Chilipepper, the reigning Ms. Port-o-let. If you haven't seen Chili's rendition of Ms. Loretta Lynn's trademark "Coal Miner's Daughter," you haven't seen nothin'. Chili and friends were vying for the top prize at the weekly search for the stars hosted by Raycine Ross.. Unfortunately, Chili came in a close second, missing the top prize by a clap or two. I hear she could have used the cash for some tooth work but I clapped the loudest. Also seen, Jody and Jason, hamming it up for the Ambush cameras. And Ms. Valerie Sugarbaker over at Images. Over at Jules we ran into Mike, but I promised not to say where he's from. Dear old Bootsy, how are you my love?? Augie, could you wear that Roman guard outfit one more time? My old, old, old friend Ms. Mike was out and about last weekend as was Randy Bond whose always a good conversation buddy. Look for our favorite pics from the National Mr. & Miss Apollo competition in the next issue and even more Halloween freaks! Until next time...

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