Almost exactly a year ago, Flex Cocktail Lounge poured its last drink in the West Charleston Boulevard location it had called home since 1996 (and where there had been a bar in operation since 1961). Neither a full-blown night club, nor a dive bar, nor a cover-at-the-door lounge with pricey drinks, Flex has always occupied a singular niche within Vegas’s LQBTQ+ nightlife community.
“We run into people all the time who tell us it was where they came out,” longtime manager Sean Grooms told What now on Friday. “It was where they had their first drink at a gay bar, where they saw their first drag show.”
Now Flex is preparing to make its return in a new location at 501 E Twain Ave. But while it may be moving to the other side of town, Flex is staying true to what it’s always been.
“We’ve been very focused on and have put a lot of time into picking apart the identity of the bar, looking for a progression on what it was and what it was becoming. We took as many of the old elements from the old building as we could before they knocked it down.”
The key word is continuity, from the preserved bartop to the staff, who are also returning in the new location, including Grooms, General Manager David Woodall, and a number of other familiar faces.
For the moment, at least, the smaller location won’t allow for Flex to bring along its food menu, but you can expect the same fairly-priced drinks.
“We did a lot of research for this,” Grooms said, describing a trip to the East Coast that involved visits to 53 different gay bars in a single week. “We were trying to figure out how to deal with a small space, to see what works and what doesn’t. You only get one chance. You can’t build it after you reopen.”
Opening this March next to Fun Hog Ranch, a gay bar with a laid-back divey vibe, near India Palace Restaurant and the Mixer Lounge, Flex Cocktail Lounge will soon be part of making the stretch of Twain Avenue between Paradise Road and Palos Verdes Street an exciting place to be.