Halloween New Orleans Preview: An Interview with Nightclub Impresario Sandy Sachs
Next to Southern Decadence, Halloween is New Orleans' biggest gay event of the year and it promises to get even bigger come September 2. Sandy Sachs - the owner of West Hollywood's largest nightclub The Factory - looks to bring lots of treats to New Orleans' largest gay nightclub: The Bourbon Pub & Parade as new owner.
She was named one of the 100 Most Inspiring Individuals by OUT Magazine, and she's the inspiration for L Word character Dawn Denbo, played by Elizabeth Keener. EDGE caught up with Sandy as she gets ready for the big re-launch.
Destination New Orleans: Travel Tips
EDGE: First of all, Sandy, congratulations on your venture. This is was the first gay nightclub you attended back when you were nineteen. You must be excited.
SANDY: It’s hard to describe how excited I am about being the new owner of the Bourbon Pub & Parade (www.bourbonpub.com). I feel like I have come full circle since this was the first gay nightclub I had set foot in when I first came out in college. New Orleans is an amazing city, full of energy and life and I’m just thrilled to be a part of it.
EDGE: Great time to launch with Halloween coming up. What is it about Halloween in New Orleans that has always made the city a destination for so many out-of-towners?
SANDY: Halloween in New Orleans is a great destination because people here are used to dressing up in costume (like for Mardi Gras) and with the fact that there is no last call, people can party into the wee hours of the morning and really blow it out. The French Quarter is a great walking area so people can just walk back to their hotels or take cabs so it makes drinking responsibly much easier.
EDGE: Any travel advice for first-timers?
Sandy: A couple of things: Buy a weekend pass because it ensures that you will be able to get into the Bourbon Pub without waiting in line. Then make sure you book a hotel room early as there is a lot going on in New Orleans that weekend. Between the Saints game on Halloween night, Voo Doo Festival and then Halloween festivities, the city will be packed.
Making an Impact
EDGE: You’ve made quite an impact in Los Angeles as the owner of Factory - the largest nightclub in West Hollywood - and Girl Bar - the country’s largest dance and entertainment group for lesbians. How are you looking to differentiate the Bourbon Pub & Parade?
SANDY: Well, I don’t think I’m looking to differentiate The Bourbon Pub as I am trying to put it more on the gay map as a premiere destination like I have done with The Factory and Girl Bar.
EDGE: What’s the single most important factor in opening a club? Is it celebrities, press, exclusivity, service?
SANDY: I would have to say all of the above and to have a good game plan as to who your target market is going to be.
EDGE: The Bourbon Pub & Parade is the oldest continuously operating gay nightclub in the country. What do you see as the biggest opportunities for improvement as you re-launch?
SANDY: There is a lot of room for improvement which is great for me because I can really let my creativity loose and revamp the current concept. For instance I will be redoing the back bar of the Parade upstairs and creating more of a lounge bar atmosphere. The working name is S Bar and the intent is to draw in a slightly more professional crowd that doesn’t necessarily like loud nightclubs.
Adam Lampbert, Southern Decadence, & More
EDGE: It seems like the West Hollywood scene is constantly introducing new parties, new themes, and new events. Do you think New Orleans will appreciate a similar approach?
SANDY: What’s great about New Orleans is that it is entrenched in tradition and New Orleans doesn’t like a lot of change. New promotions are good, but not as necessary as is needed with the short attention spans of Angelinos.
EDGE: The Factory has also been a hotspot for special events. Do you see a similar potential for the Bourbon Pub & Parade?
SANDY: I totally intend to make The Bourbon Pub/Parade & S Bar a hotspot for special events. It’s the largest club in the French Quarter and the perfect place to be able to do special events like the official after party we just did for Adam Lambert after his New Orleans concert.
EDGE: Southern Decadence is coming up September 2-6. What do you have planned?
SANDY: Well, Decadence has come and gone but I did want to mention that it was a record year. I did lots of marketing nationwide and I feel it really paid off as the numbers of attendees were the highest since Katrina.
Girl Bar New Orleans
EDGE: You bring a unique perspective having worked in so many different positions from bartender, to manager, and even a DJ. What do you think are the two or three most important things that make a successful club?
SANDY: There is definitely a formula when creating a successful club. A few of those components are a capable and friendly staff, great music, and a fun and sexy ambiance.
EDGE: Girl Bar has built a worldwide reputation for featuring incredible special events, hot music and the sexiest clientele. On Friday nights in Los Angeles, it is THE place for women to be. What can be expected for the launch of Girl Bar New Orleans?
SANDY: Girl Bar has unique qualities as you mentioned which we will be bringing to New Orleans. Special events like live girl bands, drag king shows, and some hot new go-go dancers are some of the enhancements we will be incorporating into Girl Bar New Orleans. The visibility from our website www.girlbar.com, which gets over 2 million hits a month will also increase the overall awareness.
EDGE: Might you be making any guest DJ appearances at the Bourbon Pub & Parade?
SANDY: I actually will be doing a couple of spots mainly on Saturday and Sunday afternoons where I will be introducing lounge music along with a little Beach House to give the upstairs on these afternoons a nice lounge feel.
"I would like to make New Orleans America’s hot new adult gay playground"
EDGE: Last year marked the 20th Anniversary for your Girl Bar Dinah Shore Week in Palm Springs. www.dinahshoreweekend.com It has grown to become the largest lesbian event in the world with blockbuster talent including Kelis, Kelly Rowland, Samantha Ronson, and Jennifer Coolidge, how do you keep the boys from sneaking in?
SANDY: You know, in this day and age we don’t actually mind the boys attending. We get many women now who want to come to the event with their gay friends and we just feel that if they want to come, the more the merrier!
EDGE: More than 10 events over 5 days. It’s quite a production. How did you come up with the idea for Girl Bar Dinah Shore Week?
SANDY: We didn’t actually come up with the original idea since there have been events going on since the early 70’s. We decided that we could improve on what was going on out their and we brought our flair and vision and put the event on the global map.
EDGE: Do you see any potential in a Girl Bar Week on the East Coast?
SANDY: At this time our focus for another Girl Bar Week is in Europe for 2012. We are working with the premier women’s promoter in Germany Karin Kauffman of Alpha Girls and a few others to put together a European Girl Bar Dinah style week.
EDGE: Anything else you would like to add?
SANDY: One of the most exciting parts of my new venture is that I get to go back to the city I came out in and help the City of New Orleans get back on its feet. Since the catastrophic effects of hurricane Katrina, New Orleans has been in a struggle and I am happy to now be a partner in helping New Orleans get back on the map and to help get tourism back up which is the lifeline of New Orleans.
My new pitch to the LGBT community is that I would like to make New Orleans America’s hot new adult gay playground. We have the criteria with no alcohol curfews, wonderful restaurants, beautiful architecture and most of all a spirit of the people that will warm anyone’s heart. I hope to see an increase in attendance for Halloween as New Orleans is simply, the place to be.
The Bourbon Pub & Parade is located in the heart of the city’s historic French Quarter at the corner of Bourbon and St. Ann Streets at 801 Bourbon St. 504.529.2107. Ages 18 and over to party. 21 and over with ID to drink.
For more, check out the www.bourbonpub.com