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Rehoboth warms up

After frigid winter, bars and restaurants prepare for summer madness



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

The ocean froze this winter, creating an eerie site along deserted Rehoboth beaches. Now that summer is nearly here, the crowds are back. (Washington Blade photos)

Despite one of the coldest Rehoboth Beach winters in recent memory, during which even the ocean froze, LGBT businesses flourished and are now heating up in preparation for the onslaught of summer visitors from D.C. and elsewhere.

Gone from the scene are Big Sissies (37385 Rehoboth Ave. Extended), replaced by The Swell Tiki Bar and Grill, which may be open by mid-May, and, on Wilmington Avenue, Planet X and Cypress (former home of Café Zeus and Yum Yum, known for its Sunday teas), which will be replaced by an extended Avenue Hotel.

Most of the stalwarts remain in place. Blue Moon (35 Baltimore Ave.), now in its 34th year, will continue with summer entertainment, award-winning dining and its popular Sunday brunch. You can hear Pamala Stanley perform in her tenth fabulous season from Sunday to Thursday, “Rehoboth Idol” will continue and you will be able to see the original Chantels and other performers during the summer, as well as popular female impersonators.

Rigby’s (404 Rehoboth Ave.) will focus on live entertainment on most evenings and a fine menu, bar food and happy hour.

Aqua (54 Baltimore Ave.) reopens on May 15 and will continue to sponsor special events and provide entertainment with music by Kathy Gorman, John Flynn and others. According to owner Bill Shields, Aqua also plans to “do something to celebrate CAMP Rehoboth’s 25th anniversary of serving the community.”

The Purple Parrot’s (134 Rehoboth Ave.) popular outdoor Biergarten is open for the season and features a familiar face behind the bar — Christopher Chandler, who moved from Blue Moon to the Parrot during the off season.

The Double L Bar (37300 Rehoboth Ave. Extended) is scheduled to reopen on May 16 after a short-lived stint as Dive Bar. The owner, John Meng, promises to bring back the popular ManDance on Saturdays.

After about 25 years at the corner of First Street and Baltimore Avenue, Adriatico’s has been replaced by another Italian Restaurant, DiFebo’s, which was established in 1989 in Bethany Beach.

Lori’s, open for breakfast and lunch is located in the CAMP courtyard and is beginning its 19th season. There will be several new items on the menu, including a 4 B salad (Bleu, Blueberry, Bacon and Balsamic on greens). Breakfast sandwiches have been added to the menu.

Although under new ownership, Rehoboth Ale House (15 Wilmington Ave.), a popular bar with the lesbian crowd, but still under the management of the two previous owners, Betsy and Jodi, promises to continue its successful formula by providing live entertainment by Viki Dee.

A popular lesbian-owned bar, Seafood Shack (42 1/2 Baltimore Ave.) returns for its 9th season and will continue to offer live music. Dos Locos (208 Rehoboth Ave.) continues to offer some of the best margaritas in town. The Pond’s (3 S. First St.) speed bingo on Tuesdays is popular with locals and the gay-owned bar/restaurant also hosts live music throughout the season.

Leo Cabrera’s Modern Mixture (62 Rehoboth Ave.) continues to grow, adding an outdoor café and a bar area. Many remember Leo as a waiter at Crystal’s, Blue Moon and Cloud 9.

One of the area’s few remaining independent bookstores, Proud Bookstore (149 Rehoboth Ave.), provides a venue for local artists to display their works and writers to hold readings and signings. On May 16, Jonathan Harper, author of “Daydreamers” will hold a book signing, and later in the summer, John Simpson and Roberts Cummings will read from their gay anthology. Owner Jocques LeClair says to expect more readings this summer.

Rehoboth Beach, gay news, Washington Blade

Proud Bookstore (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Gidget’s Gadgets (123 Rehoboth Ave.) has a new look and now offers an extensive array of vinyl records as well as continuing to provide retro toys, games and even candies.

Snyder’s Candies (60 Rehoboth Ave.) celebrates its 75th anniversary. It has been owned for the past nine years by Jeff Balk, a gay man who formerly owned Rehoboth Gayzette. Balk has changed the store’s logo to include the rainbow colors and among other things sells plush toys, collectibles and retro candies, as well as chocolate delicacies. As part of the anniversary year, it will have specials featuring the number 75.

Now in its 23rd year as a gay-owned coffee shop, and a favorite stop for “Today” show host Hoda Kotb, The Coffee Mill at Rehoboth Commons (127 Rehoboth Ave.) has several special events scheduled this year, including a fundraiser for Breast Cancer Delaware featuring Kotb, who is a regular customer.

The owner of the Coffee Mill will also celebrate the first year of BRASHhh (1 N. First St.), a shop featuring men’s fashions and swimwear.

Yes, there are a few businesses in Rehoboth that aren’t gay owned. A few highlights of the new season: the former Stoney Lonen is gone and replaced by 208 Social (208 2nd St.), featuring Eastern Shore-inspired cuisine and comfort food. The always-packed Bramble & Brine (315 Rehoboth Ave.), which closed abruptly last year, is slated to reopen May 15. And perhaps the most buzzed about addition to the local food scene isn’t in Rehoboth but just down Route 1 in Dewey, where Dewey Beer Co. (Route 1 and Saulsbury Street), a brewery and restaurant, is scheduled to open for Memorial Day Weekend.

There will be an art walk held the second Saturday of each month when most of the numerous galleries in Rehoboth invite you to visit. Most will also have special shows throughout the summer.

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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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