"Rumours" turned out to be the perfect name for the new dance club attached to gay bar Innuendo in downtown St. Paul. For the past year its opening has been rumored, but construction kept getting pushed back.
Last Friday, the rumor finally came true. Innuendo, which sits across 4th Street from Union Depot, doubled its size with Rumours -- adding the only other dance floor in downtown next to Camp's. The opening completes the establishment's full name: Rumours & Innuendo.
The debut marks another step in St. Paul's quest to become a nightlife player. By the looks of last weekend's party, a lot of people want it to succeed. St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman even got in on the action, tending bar there for half-an-hour on Friday night.
"For downtown to be successful, you have to have critical mass," Coleman said. "You have to have options. You have to have nightclubs."
Innuendo has prided itself on being a crossroads of sorts for people in the GLBT community. Just look at its monthly events schedule. There's a drag night (plus a drag king night), a Bear night, a bi night, a leather night, a rugby night and a country night.
"Each bar has its own identity," said Innuendo's lead drag queen, Cee Cee Russell. "The Gay '90s is drag, the Eagle is leather, the Saloon is young. But here we bring it all together."
The name Rumours is a tribute to a gay bar by that name that operated on Robert Street in downtown St. Paul from 1986 to 1997 (it became Trikkx and is now Camp). Rumours' original owners also had a small piano bar down the block, called Innuendo. When Sean Fetterman, a manager at Rumours back then, decided he wanted to open a new gay bar in St. Paul, he asked his old employers if he could use the names. They agreed.
"The old Rumours was a place where men and women, gay and straight, could come together and just have fun," Fetterman said. "I want the new bar to be just like it was in the old days."
Fetterman thinks he has the right formula to make the club last. He's already enlisted two of the scene's stalwarts.
Drag diva Russell recently left her longtime home at the Gay '90s to head up Rumours' Friday and Saturday night shows, called Stiletto (starting next Friday, 9 to 11 p.m.). Russell and her cast of queens want to retool the average drag show with more theater, more comedy and, as she puts it, "more Carol Burnett!"
After the drag show each weekend, the dance floor is handed over to DJs, including DJ Naughty Boyy. Don't be surprised if you hear Shania Twain, Nine Inch Nails and Rihanna in one mix. The DJ is also behind "The Gay View," a biweekly talk show he'll host at the club, a la ABC's "The View." He and three other guys (one is a gay black Republican) will talk about current issues with a sense of humor. "It's not watered down like television," Naughty Boyy said.
Naughty Boyy knows that much of the club's weekend success rests on his ability to keep people moving in a downtown not known for late-night dancing.
"I know St. Paul is a tough sell," Naughty Boyy said. "But I'm telling people: St. Paul is hot. So hopefully in the future when people talk about the Saloon and the Gay '90s, they'll mention Rumours, too."