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New in Rehoboth

Our annual beach preview, from a beach smoking ban to Matt Haley’s latest hotspot



Rehoboth Beach, gay news, Washington Blade
Rehoboth Beach, gay news, Washington Blade

Rehoboth Beach, Del. (Washington Blade file photo by Joey DiGuglielmo)

The long-range summer forecast from the Farmer’s Almanac predicts 2014 will be one of the hottest summers in the past decade, so expect people to head out to Rehoboth Beach in droves in the months ahead.

For those who do, some things may look a little different as a number of changes have come to the shops, restaurants and businesses in the gay-friendly beach resort town.

One difference is that smoking will no longer be allowed on the beach and only on a few designated areas on the boardwalk. While this may prove unpopular with some beachgoers, Rehoboth was the last holdout of Delaware’s major ocean resorts to ban smoking and City Commissioner Stan Mills was determined to make it happen.

First Street Station is being renovated for the first time since it went up nearly 20 years ago, with approximately 4,500 square feet of the northeast side of the building being demolished to make way for three new retail sites. Saying “so long” to the original space are Gallery Espresso and Maggio Shields Real Estate Café. Three new stores will occupy the new space — all with street-entry access.

Other renovations to First Street Station include the addition of a new roof, the installation of an HVAC system and the removal of the front catwalk, allowing a clear view to the courtyard.

Dance club Dive has opened at the site of the once-popular L Bar at 622 Rehoboth Ave.

“Yes, we are a ‘dive bar,’ but we consider ourselves a classy one,” says Christian Randolph, general manager of the new establishment and a former bartender at L Bar. “We are an ‘everybody bar’ and welcome anyone. We really see this as someplace that will be a favorite among the Rehoboth faithful.”

According to Patty Burkentine, membership representative for the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce, there are a number of new businesses and restaurants opening this summer.

Perhaps the most anticipated new restaurant of the season is Papa Grande’s Coastal Taqueria at Wilmington Ave., owned by Matt Haley who just won the James Beard Foundation’s 2014 Humanitarian of the Year award. Haley owns several popular restaurants in the area, including Lupo di Mare. Papa Grande’s will feature salads, tacos, quesadillas and more and is scheduled to open this month.

Cellar Door replaces Debacle at 20 Baltimore Ave., offering Southern cuisine with a Creole twist, according to the indispensible Rehoboth Foodie. The SandCrab Beach Bar will hold its grand opening on May 23 at 1 Baltimore Ave., situated on the ocean side of the Atlantic Sands Hotel and Conference Center, and boasting a swimming pool and sun deck.

The family-owned Ambrosia Restaurant & Wine Bar opened at 19 Wilmington Ave., and offers Italian and American cuisines; Otto’s Sandwich Shop serves up Philly-style subs at 4 North First St.; and Nonna’s Sweet Treats is taking over the Rehoboth Avenue spot next to Nicola’s that was last occupied by Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop, to dish out ice cream and delectable treats.

After several attempts, the Dewey Beer and Food Co., was granted permission to open a new brewpub at the site of the former Bubba’s Grill on Route 1, and it will be up and running in time for summer.

Changes have come to some old favorites as well.

The former Cloud 9, a beloved LGBT restaurant and lounge that closed in the fall of 2012, will find its home at 234 Rehoboth Ave., occupied by Lula Brazil, a new coastal Brazilian restaurant and Latin-flavor dance club, owned by Meg Hudson (a former partner in Wilmington’s Domaine Hudson).

Meanwhile, the Greene Turtle will find a second home on the beach at 52 Rehoboth Ave., once the home of Irish Eyes, which closed after 27 years in Rehoboth.

Specialty stores are abundant with Burkentine listing nearly three-dozen new shops opening up. Among them are the Olive Orchard, with owners Roy and Laura Eckrote bringing a fine selection of infused oils, a variety of balsamic vinegars and honey; Blooming Boutique at 216 Rehoboth Ave., owned by Michiko Seto, and offering shoes, handbags and other apparel items; and the jewelry store Shore Silver opening at 149 Rehoboth Ave., by the Gambacorta family with a mission statement that reads, “Shore Silver will do its very best to provide quality, affordable jewelry that will make you look good at prices that will make you feel good.”

Another newcomer is Miss Pixies By the Sea, a vintage store offering hard-to-find items at 40 Baltimore Ave. It’s a sister store to the D.C. location, a staple of the burgeoning 14th Street corridor.

“You never know what interesting item you’re going to find,” says owner Pixie Windsor, who offers a laundry list of things like carnival ride seats, matchbox cars, vintage glassware and old toys. “You may find something that brings back an old memory or discover something that will lead to a new one.”

Across the street at 39 Baltimore Ave. is the fabulous gay-owned R Squared home and design store featuring stylish décor and interior design services.

No car to get to Rehoboth? No problem. The upscale bus service DC2NY has changed its name to BestBus but the amenities remain top-notch: free Wi-Fi, bottled water, power outlets at each seat, movies and more. Visit for rates and schedules to Rehoboth.

Several events will be sponsored by CAMP Rehoboth, the local LGBT community center, which is celebrating its 24th anniversary. There’s the Black & White Beach Ball on May 31, a cruise party on July 18 and the popular Sundance Auction on Aug. 30 and Sundance party on Aug. 31.

Of course, the main two beaches that attract an LGBT crowd are Poodle Beach at the south end of the boardwalk and Gordon’s Pond in Cape Henlopen State Park, north of town.

And many gay-friendly Rehoboth staples are open for the 2014 season, including Blue Moon (35 Baltimore Ave.), where “Queen of Rehoboth” Pamala Stanley opens the season on May 25; Aqua Grill (57 Baltimore Ave.), which opens May 16; Purple Parrot (134 Rehoboth Ave.), where the always-fun Biergarten is also open; Dos Locos (208 Rehoboth Ave.), with its awesome margaritas; and Café Azafran (18 Baltimore Ave.) and its incomparable, tres chic bartender Holly Lane.

Dos Locos, Joe Zuber, Darryl Ciarlante, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, restaurant, gay news, Washington Blade

Drinks at Dos Locos (Photo courtesy Dos Locos)

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Baltimore DJ on using music as a bridge to combat discrimination

Deezy brings high-energy show to the Admiral on Jan. 28



DJ Deezy has hosted multiple events in D.C. and Baltimore. (Photo by Carlos Polk from We Dream Photography and Studios)

A Baltimore DJ will conclude a month of performances in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. clubs this Friday, Jan. 28, according to the artist’s management. DJ Deezy is set to perform at the Admiral in D.C. at 9 p.m. 

Since the year began, Deezy has hosted electric events at clubs such as Hawthorne DC, DuPont and the Baltimore Eagle Bar & Nightclub. 

The Washington Blade sat down with the DJ to discuss the course of her career. 

The beginning of DJ Deezy’s infatuation with music dates back to her childhood spent between her mother’s house in Baltimore City and her father’s house in the suburbs. 

In Baltimore, Deezy was exposed to the local rap and raw hip-hop scene that inspired her to embark on a rap career in high school. 

Concurrently, she was entrenched in Motown and classic rock by virtue of her singer, songwriter, and guitarist father Ron Daughton’s involvement in a classic rock band. He is a member of “The Dalton Gang” and was inducted into the Maryland Entertainment Hall of Fame in 2015.

“Before I embarked on my DJ journey, my father let me record ‘a little 16’ on his tape recorder,” said Deezy. “Eventually, he bought me a wireless microphone that I carried around with me to performances.”

Between her experience as a rapper and watching her father maneuver the classic rock music scene, Deezy acquired varying tastes in music that have influenced how she curates her sets today. 

She “specializes in open format vibes with spins from multiple genres including hip-hop, rap, circuit, and top 40s hits,” according to a summer 2021 press release from her management.

Deezy is also a proud member of the LGBTQ community — she identifies as a lesbian — and this also informs her approach to her work.

“I’m easily able to transition and rock the crowd because I can relate to many different backgrounds,” said Deezy. “I can DJ in places that are predominantly white, Black, or gay [and still do my job effortlessly].”

Centering community

Deezy values representation. Not only because she exists in a field dominated by men, but also because DJs who inhabit other identities aside from being men are less common in the industry. 

The scarcity of Black and lesbian DJs has prompted her to use her career as evidence that people who are different can attract audiences and succeed.

“I want to put us out there especially for Baltimore,” said Deezy. “I know that there’s Black lesbians out there doing the same thing as me, but why aren’t we getting [recognized]?”

In 2018, Deezy rented out a “Lez” lot at the Baltimore Pride block party where she set up a tent and played a set for the crowds tailgating around her. While entertaining them, she distributed her business cards — an act she believes yielded her the contact who eventually got her booked for a residency at the Baltimore Eagle.

While this was a step forward in her career, Deezy acknowledges that it wasn’t without challenges. She likened entering the Baltimore Eagle — traditionally a leather bar frequented predominantly by men —to navigating foreign territory. 

“When I first got there, I got funny looks,” she said. “There’s a lot of these guys who are like, ‘Why are you bringing a lesbian DJ to a gay bar?’”

But Deezy powered through her performance, lifted the crowd from its seats and “rocked the house [so that] no one will ever ask any questions again.” 

She admits that she’s an acquired taste but believes in her ability to play music infectious enough to draw anyone to the dance floor.  

“Feel how you want to feel about a Black lesbian DJ being in the gay bar,” said Deezy. “But music is a bridge that [will] connect us all, and you’ll forget about your original discrimination when you [experience] me.”

While Deezy has mostly performed in the DMV, she has also made appearances in Arizona where she hosted a family event and also in clubs in Atlanta and New York City. 

Her work has also attracted international attention and she was the cover star of  French publication Gmaro Magazine’s October 2021 issue

Looking to the future, Deezy’s goal is to be a tour DJ and play her sets around the world.

“I had a dream that Tamar Braxton approached me backstage at one of her concerts and asked me to be her tour DJ,” she said. “So, I’m manifesting this for myself.” 

In the meantime, Deezy will continue to liven up audiences in bars and clubs around the country while playing sets for musicians like Crystal Waters and RuPaul’s Drag Race celebrity drag queens like Alyssa Edwards, Plastique Tiara, La La Ri, Joey Jay and Eureka O’Hara — all of whom she has entertained alongside in the past. 

Outside the club, Deezy’s music can be heard in Shoe City where she created an eight-hour music mix split evenly between deep house and hip-hop and R&B. 

DJ Deezy (Photo by Carlos Polk from We Dream Photography and Studios)
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Rodriquez scores historic win at otherwise irrelevant Golden Globes

Award represents a major milestone for trans visibility



Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, on right, and Billy Porter in 'Pose.' (Photo courtesy of FX)

HOLLYWOOD – Despite its continuing status as something of a pariah organization in Hollywood, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has managed to cling to relevance in the wake of last night’s behind-closed-doors presentation of its 79th Annual Golden Globe Awards by sole virtue of having bestowed the prize for “Best Leading Actress in a Television Series – Drama” on Michaela Jaé Rodriguez for her work in the final season of “Pose” – making her the first transgender performer to win a Golden Globe.

The ceremony took place as a private, no-press-or-audience event in which winners were revealed via a series of tweets from the Golden Globes Twitter account. No celebrities were present (not even the nominees or winners), although actress Jamie Lee Curtis participated by appearing in a video in which she pronounced her continuing loyalty to the HFPA – without mention of the  longstanding issues around diversity and ethical practices, revealed early in 2021 by a bombshell Los Angeles Times report, that have led to an nearly industry-wide boycott of the organization and its awards as well as the cancellation of the annual Golden Globes broadcast by NBC for the foreseeable future.

While the Golden Globes may have lost their luster for the time being, the award for Rodriquez represents a major milestone for trans visibility and inclusion in the traditionally transphobic entertainment industry, and for her part, the actress responded to news of her win with characteristic grace and good will.

Posting on her Instagram account, the 31-year old actress said: 

“OMG OMGGG!!!! @goldenglobes Wow! You talking about sickening birthday present! Thank you!

“This is the door that is going to Open the door for many more young talented individuals. They will see that it is more than possible. They will see that a young Black Latina girl from Newark New Jersey who had a dream, to change the minds others would WITH LOVE. LOVE WINS.

“To my young LGBTQAI babies WE ARE HERE the door is now open now reach the stars!!!!!”

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As You Are Bar and the importance of queer gathering spaces

New bar/restaurant poised to open in 2022



As You Are Bar had a pop-up venue at Capital Pride's "Colorful Fest" block party in October. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

More than just a watering hole: As You Are Bar is set to be the city’s newest queer gathering place where patrons can spill tea over late-morning cappuccinos as easily as they can over late-night vodka-sodas.

Co-owners and founders Jo McDaniel and Rachel Pike built on their extensive experience in the hospitality industry – including stints at several gay bars – to sign a lease for their new concept in Barracks Row, replacing what was previously District Soul Food and Banana Café. In a prime corner spot, they are seeking to bring together the disparate colors of the LGBTQ rainbow – but first must navigate the approval process (more on that later).

The duo decided on this Southeast neighborhood locale to increase accessibility for “the marginalized parts of our community,” they say, “bringing out the intersectionality inherent in the queer space.”

Northwest D.C., they explain, not only already has many gay bar options, but is also more difficult to get to for those who don’t live within walking distance. The Barracks Row location is right by a Metro stop, “reducing pay walls.” Plus, there, “we are able to find a neighborhood to bring in a queer presence that doesn’t exist today.”

McDaniel points out that the area has a deep queer bar history. Western bar Remington’s was once located in the area, and it’s a mere block from the former Phase 1, the longest-running lesbian bar, which was open from 1971-2015.

McDaniel and Pike hope that As You Are Bar will be an inclusive space that “welcomes anyone of any walk of life that will support, love, and celebrate the mission of queer culture. We want people of all ages, gender, sexual identity, as well as drinkers and non-drinkers, to have space.”

McDaniel (she/her) began her career at Apex in 2005 and was most recently the opening manager of ALOHO. Pike (she/they) was behind the bar and worked as security at ALOHO, where the two met.

Since leaving ALOHO earlier this year, they have pursued the As You Are Bar project, first by hosting virtual events during the pandemic, and now in this brick-and-mortar space. They expressed concern that receiving the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) liquor license approval and the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission, or ANC, approval will be a long and expensive process.

They have already received notice that some neighbors intend to protest As You Are Bar’s application for the “tavern” liquor license that ABRA grants to serve alcohol and allow for live entertainment (e.g. drag shows). They applied for the license on Nov. 12, and have no anticipated opening date, estimating at least six months. If ABRA and the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board give final approval, the local ANC 6B and nearby residents can no longer protest the license until the license comes up for renewal.

Until approval is given, they continue physical buildout (including soundproofing) and planning their offerings. If the license is approved, ABRA and the ABC Board can take action against As You Are Bar, like any bar, at any time if they violate the terms of the license or create a neighborhood disturbance that violates city laws such as the local noise ordinance.  In the kitchen, the duo snagged Chef Nina Love to develop the menu. Love will oversee café-style fare; look out for breakfast sandwiches making an appearance all the way until close. They will also have baked goods during the day.

McDaniel and Pike themselves will craft the bar menu. Importantly, they note, the coffee bar will also serve until close. There will be a full bar as well as a list of zero-proof cocktails. As with their sourcing, they hope to work with queer-, minority-, and women-owned businesses for everything not made in-house.

Flexible conceptually, they seek to grow with their customer base, allowing patrons to create the culture that they seek.

Their goal is to move the queer space away from a focus on alcohol consumption. From book clubs, to letter-writing, to shared workspaces, to dance parties, they seek an all-day, morning-to-night rhythm of youth, families, and adults to find a niche. “We want to shift the narrative of a furtive, secretive, dark gay space and hold it up to the light,” they say. “It’s a little like The Planet from the original L Word show,” they joke.

Pike notes that they plan on working closely with SMYAL, for example, to promote programming for youth. Weekend potential activities include lunch-and-learn sessions on Saturdays and festive Sunday brunches.

The café space, to be located on the first floor, will have coffeehouse-style sofas as well as workstations. A slim patio on 8th Street will hold about six tables.

Even as other queer bars have closed, they reinforce that the need is still present. “Yes, we can visit a café or bar, but we always need to have a place where we are 100 percent certain that we are safe, and that our security is paramount. Even as queer acceptance continues to grow, a dedicated queer space will always be necessary,” they say.

To get there, they continue to rally support of friends, neighbors, and leaders in ANC6B district; the ANC6B officials butted heads with District Soul Food, the previous restaurant in the space, over late-night noise and other complaints. McDaniel and Pike hope that once nearby residents and businesses understand the important contribution that As You Are Bar can make to the neighborhood, they will extend their support and allow the bar to open.

AYA, gay news, Washington Blade
Rachel Pike and Jo McDaniel signed a lease for their new concept in Barracks Row. (Photo courtesy Pike and McDaniel)
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