Another nightclub opens in SoDo – Slog
Drag performs Issa Man on the opening weekend of The Comeback. Photo by Keith Johnson, courtesy of The Comeback
It’s been a non-stop party for Zac Levine since mid-July. Owner of the recently opened Supernova in SoDo, Zac strives to entertain the crowds with new nightlife.
“We have fun theme nights every two months on Fridays,” he says. “We had an event where we had fifty pounds of gold glitter in a kiddie pool on stage. … And I think we’re the first nightclub to have a Hanukkah party.
Supernova is just one of many new clubs warming up SoDo, an industrial area best known for being the place you look down on when riding through the light rail. The Comeback, a spiritual successor to Capitol Hill’s R Place, held a low-key launch last Friday with a grand opening slated for mid-February. They join longtime SoDo destinations like Monkey Loft and Club Sur — and, if local visionaries are to be believed, they’re at the forefront of the evolution of a whole new Seattle nightlife district.
Shaina Shepherd serenades the Supernova crowd. James Gerde/Supernova
“Nightlife goes from neighborhood to neighborhood,” says Scott Plusquellec, nightlife business advocate for the Office of Economic Development (or Seattle’s “night mayor” for short.) was the place of the pioneershe says, “then Capitol Hill, now it looks like Belltown.
But keep an eye out for SoDo next. It was there that Floyd Lovelady, the fondly remembered former general manager of R Place, found a home for The Comeback with his business partner John Fish.
“I started looking back in February,” Lovelady says, when he first learned that R Place would be closing. “I looked in the Central District, Queen Anne, I looked all over Capitol Hill and I couldn’t find anything that piqued my curiosity,” he says. That’s when he connected with SCORE, a national network of business mentors with a Seattle chapter. They pointed it in the direction of the SoDo Business Improvement Area, which advocates for the economic development of the neighborhood, and the BIA showed him an intriguing space. It was much bigger than anything he could afford on Capitol Hill and allowed for the installation of modular walls that could transform the space according to the needs of different events. There was a large kitchen, so they could serve food – an important feature in the age of COVID shutdowns. It was close to other venues, public transportation, and gyms (or “stadiums” for short).
At first, he feared “losing foot traffic to the Hill,” Lovelady says. But not too worried. “A lot of people moved from the Hill to First Hill, Beacon Hill and south. That’s why I wanted to make sure it was accessible by light rail.
The Comeback plan is to cater to what Lovelady calls “the game crowd” with traditional sports snacks (nachos, chicken wings, hot dogs) and team-appropriate lighting. Gay sports groups have already expressed interest in hosting pre-game events at the bar, he says.
Co-owner John Fish and Anita SpritzerPhoto by Keith Johnson, courtesy of The Comeback
SoDo has often been a more affordable neighborhood for businesses than the rest of the city. But relatively new public transit connections have prompted potential business owners to take a closer look at the neighborhood.
Additionally, according to Plusquellec, the relatively small amount of residential space reduces the risk of noise complaints from “neighborhood residents who may have forgotten they moved into a nightlife area when they signed their lease. Because most of the surrounding structures house daytime businesses, nightclubs can party without disturbing anyone’s sleep.
Building a nightlife in SoDo isn’t just a boon for business owners — it’s helped producers and artists whose livelihoods have been decimated by the pandemic.
“We really care about our local queer talent, many of whom rely on us and Supernova to sustain their monthly income,” said Wesley Fruge, co-founder and executive director of Beauty Boiz. the strangeris Jas Keimig last month. “I think we need to rethink ‘gig labour’ at the political level, but it’s starting to touch health insurance, guaranteed income and so many other issues that make my head spin…”
Comeback co-owners Lovelady and Fish hope The Comeback can help support local queer artists. “I already had relationships with a lot of drag queens in the community,” he says. “Cookie Couture is going to be my head of programming. She will take care of the reservations. … And we will continue our tradition of bringing in the stars of Ru Paul’s Drag Race.”
Half of the drag duo Lüchi, also known as Isis Photo by Keith Johnson, courtesy of The Comeback
Last weekend, The Comeback opened its doors (now that it has, supply chain issues had delayed them) for a soft launch ahead of opening. “The drag show was awesome and the stage is HUGE!” reports trail interpreter Old Witch. “My favorite part of the whole evening was that you saw the real excitement and anticipation towards the end of the drag show – when everyone floats high and the place turns into a dance club. It’s such a beautiful flow of human energy that you don’t really go anywhere but a gay bar.”
“I strongly believe that SoDo is Seattle’s next arts and entertainment district,” says Supernova’s Levine. He wants to see more murals in the area to liven it up and change the perceptions of people who only know it for wholesale flooring warehouses. “That’s what excites me. The more art I see coming in, the more certain I am that people will want to do business that incorporates art.
Universal Peoples at Supernova Supernova/James Gerde
Plusquellec is focused on expanding accessibility, and has been in talks with SDOT about expanding its Night owl service, especially when trains have to stop. “I want to see if we can expand this and add more routes,” he says, a conversation that largely depends on funding being controlled by Mayor Bruce Harrell and City Council, as well as the King County Metro. .
“It’s all about money and budget,” says Plusquellec.
He also has his eye on a less visible aspect of SoDo’s popularity: DIY nightlife spaces, i.e. someone who decides to throw a rave, rent a space, and invite their friends over. for one night. He worked with the Seattle Fire Department to improve the safety of events like these, and worked with The Vera project to create a program for event organizers to obtain a city “safety kit” with fire extinguishers, portable lighted exit signs, flashlights and Narcan kits.
At Supernova: Luis the child and What So Not Surprise Supernova/James Gerde 3
Ensuring that the nightlife thrives in every corner of the city is not just a matter of leisure for Plusquellec, for the merchants and for the workers who are in charge of creating parties every night. “It’s a major identity for the city,” he says. “We keep these places thriving and supporting them [because they are] an economic engine… We need to ensure that we provide them with the resources they need to thrive and develop.
This sentiment is echoed by Old Witch. “I’m so glad this place exists,” she says. “Floyd and John have really created something really special and I can’t wait for next weekend!”