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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Disco Brunch Draws a Crowd

BTW Lounge invites everyone to let their hair down

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When Dominic Kissinger opened the BTW Lounge this January in the Third Ward space formerly occupied by Soho 7 (231 E. Buffalo St.), he retained Soho 7's sophisticated décor but dropped the previous tenant's veneer of exclusivity. Unlike Soho 7, which kept limited hours and a low profile to cater to an elite clientele, Kissinger designed the BTW Lounge as a place where neighbors could grab cheap drinks at happy hour or shoot pool after work, but also dance on the weekends.

“I had been working in the Third Ward for about three years, and I realized that no place was offering younger crowds a place where they could let their hair down and relax or dance,” Kissinger says. “Most of the restaurants here don't attract crowds young enough for that kind of environment, so I saw that there was a market for an upscale corner bar.”

Inclusiveness is a mantra at BTW Lounge. Kissinger says he modeled the bar after clubs he frequented in Los Angeles, which he says attract a more diverse clientele than those in Milwaukee, where there's often an unmistakable division between gay bars, lesbian bars and straight bars. Kissinger, who identifies himself as bisexual, wanted to create an environment inviting to all crowds. His staff includes men and women of all sexual orientations.

“I wanted to make this a comfortable place where five straight guys could walk in and not even realize this was an LGBT bar,” he says.

Of course, an obvious exception to that scenario is the BTW Lounge's Sunday disco brunches. Hosted by female impersonator Anastasia Deverreoux, a comedian with an unabashed raunchy streak, the brunches have become one of the venue's bigger draws. After debuting as a monthly event, they'll run weekly through the summer, with two programs each Sunday, at 11:15 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. In addition to the entertainment, the $30 admission includes a meal of made-to-order pancakes, French toast and eggs, as well as bottomless mimosas.

BTW will keep a full schedule during PrideFest, running shuttles to the festival grounds all weekend and hosting a Saturday morning edition of its disco brunch (this Sunday's disco brunch will be a bit scaled back, Kissinger says, because of the Pride Parade that afternoon). Deverreoux will host a drag show Friday night, and the bar will hold a PrideFest wrap party Sunday night.
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