"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 on the space 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. Neighboring bar owners, such as Dawn Ledin of hard-rock club Station 4 and Matt Lokowich of the Bulldog, were there in support.
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman even got in on the action. In jeans and a sweater, the mayor boosted Rumours by tending bar there for a half-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."
When co-owner Sean "Mr. Gay Minnesota" Fetterman opened Innuendo in May 2007, he already had plans to expand next door with the larger dance club. But opening Rumours took longer than expected, with construction finally starting this past summer.
When the club opened last Friday, its differences were immediately apparent. While Innuendo is a hodgepodge of bright colors, Rumours is more stripped down -- concrete floors, high ceilings and exposed brick walls. It also has a larger bar.
The name lives on
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. Fetterman was a manager at Rumours back then. When Fetterman 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 and one of them, Molly Kauffman, even works in the new bar's office.
"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."
Last Friday, Rumours was filled with customers who remember those old days.
"It was the first gay bar I ever went to," said Todd Singer, 39, of St. Paul. "I came out in 1993 at Rumours."
Fetterman thinks he has the right formula to make the club last. He's already enlisted two of the scene's stalwarts.
Twin Cities drag diva Cee Cee 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!" Look for mini-productions of hit Broadway shows such as "Dreamgirls."
After the drag show each weekend, the dance floor is handed over to DJs, including DJ Naughty Boyy, also known as the rapper Tori Fixx. Naughty Boyy, who also DJs at the Saloon, is known for giving his diverse crowds a wide range of music. 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."
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