Awhile back, things weren’t looking too great for LUSH. The once vibrant queer nightclub, bar, and restaurant was seeing a drop in attendance, and the murder of LUSH’s co-founder, Kelly Phillips, seemed to mark the club’s end. A year later, now with a new owner and a complete refocus, business might be turning around.
The new team behind LUSH has expanded the nightclub into a two-room venue, complete with an event center ready for everything from weddings to burlesque shows. The additions mean more diverse programming options for LUSH, like an in-house drag show, movie nights, and a piano bar.
“The industrial space is really great, but we’re doing a lot with lighting to make it more comfortable,” says James Nelson, former general manager of The Independent and a consultant hired by LUSH’s new owner, Kenneth Darling.
“The two-room concept gives us more opportunity,” Nelson explains. “There’s a lounge-y, quieter, more restaurant-focused side, and now there’s an event center where we can provide a variety of entertainment.”
That event center, which includes a flexible stage, high-tech lighting options, a bar, and thrust seating, soft launches this weekend with the opening of Little Cabaret of Horrors. The show, spearheaded by local legend Victoria DeVille, will be filled with Twin Cities actors, burlesque performers, and drag queens. "[There will be] amazing costumes,” Nelson adds.
The internationally acclaimed burlesque duo Kitten N’ Lou will star in the show. The couple is based out of Seattle. Little Cabaret of Horrors marks their Minneapolis debut. “Kitten N’ Lou’s energy together as a couple really comes out onstage, and these are great campy roles to throw them into,” says Nelson. DeVille will also perform, supported by Foxy Tann and Randy Dandy. While many of these talents have worked together in the past, this will be the first time Twin Cities audiences can see all of these legends in one room.
Beyond cabaret, Darling and Nelson aim to provide a variety of entertainment that strives to serve diverse interests within the queer community. “We’re in Northeast, not downtown, so we’re staying really event-focused,” says Nelson. “That can be as simple as piano and cabaret stuff on Wednesdays, or as big as our CRUSH night on Fridays.”
CRUSH is a new ladies-focused night at LUSH. The name was chosen through a community-based online poll, and Nelson says the event strives to include a wide spectrum of Twin Cities women. Black Hearts Burlesque, who just signed an exclusive contract with the nightclub, will kick off the evening each week. Shannon Blowtorch is helping with the music programming, and the popular DJ will be spinning at CRUSH bi-monthly.
The recent energy behind LUSH is a refreshing change for the nightclub. The team is ready, now it’s just time to make it happen.
IF YOU GO:
Little Cabaret of Horrors
Through November 1
990 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis
$20, VIP tickets available
For tickets and more information, visit online.