UPDATE: Heart WeHo, the new nightclub partially owned by Lance Bass and located inside the space that once housed Rage, officially opened Friday.
Lance Bass plans to bring a “big, gay fun time” to nightlife in West Hollywood.
The former NSYNC member has signed a long-term lease to rent the space on Santa Monica Boulevard that once housed the famous gay nightclub Rage, which closed in September after being in business 37 years.
Bass, 41, also is an investor in another West Hollywood space, Rocco’s WeHo, the restaurant-bar across the street from the yet-to-be named club at the corner of Santa Monica and San Vicente boulevards.
News of the nightclub was shared on social media last week via a photo of Bass and the property owners, Monte Overstreet and husband John Cole smiling and showing paperwork to the camera.
Paul Nicholls, who will be in charge of promotions at the new club and handles promotions at Rocco’s WeHo, said the nightclub will focus on the “wow” factor.
“WeHo is more known for bars and restaurants than clubs. This will be a multi-sensory, immersive nightlife experience from the moment you arrive til the moment you head home,” Nicholls said in an interview. “We are bringing the wow.
“We will have a heavy focus on the dance floor and that over-the-top club experience that was made famous by places like Studio 54,” he said.
The space will have two levels and two dance floors, along with a kitchen, patio, and state of the art sound and LED lights, Nicholls said.
A post on Instagram last week teased, “The biggest gay nightclub in the USA is coming to WEHO this year.” The site, which encourages people to sign up for their newsletter, doesn’t give any details, but Nicholls confirmed it’s a promotion for the new space. The nightclub will focus on having the biggest gay experience, not the biggest venue. Though he said the space is larger than people realize because Rage was sectioned off.
“We are ready for the roaring 2020s in a big way,” Nicholls said. “It will be a very big and gay nightclub experience. It will be a big gay fun time.”
Bass and the other investors, who also are partners at Rocco’s WeHo, have made a “significant seven figure investment” in the space, which they hope will be open by the end of the year, Nicholls said.
“We are making a huge investment in it and not shy about it,” he said. “It’s very exciting given the long history of that space that we can move it into a new decade in such a big way.”
Rage had been waning in popularity in recent years. Rage owners Robert Maghame and Saeed Sattari have said that they couldn’t agree on the terms of a new lease with Overstreet.
Overstreet also owns the property of two other West Hollywood bars and one North Hollywood club that were forced to close during the pandemic: Flaming Saddles and Gold Coast and Oil Can Harry’s. Owners of all three establishments said they couldn’t reach an agreement to stay open.
Q Voice News has not been able to reach Overstreet for comment.
Gym Bar, which closed last year, will open next door to Bass’ club later this year.
News of Bass investing in the nightclub comes as the Los Angeles area queer nightlife scene has been devastated by the pandemic and the forced closures.
Apart from the above mentioned, a couple of other places have permanently closed. Club Cobra in North Hollywood, one of the last Latino gay clubs in the region, said in May that they would not be re-opening. Cuties in East Hollywood, L.A.’s only queer focused coffee shop, went out of business in August.
Several places have GoFundMe pages to help them stay open:
Bass helped launch Rocco’s WeHo in May 2019. Recently, the restaurant-bar has completed a makeover to their back lot. The conversion includes cabanas and tables and a food menu. The food offerings have allowed it to re-open during the pandemic.
Bass will be heavily involved in the new club, Nicholls said.
The club also will be inclusive.
“We are not gay friendly. We are gay wanted,” Nicholls said. “This will be a space for the entire community to come together and have an unforgettable time. The guest experience is everything.
“We don’t just want our guest to feel welcome. We also want them to feel wanted. We genuinely want to share this experience with them.”