In the spirit of context, well before Downtown reemerged as an epicenter of culture and city-life, the gay community was essentially confined to West Hollywood, and to a lesser extent, Silverlake. For years they were the de facto destinationsfor dancing and drinks, until the revitalization of Downtown quickly attracted a diverse LGBT community of its own, and heralded the arrival of gay establishments to a new part of Los Angeles. “I think Downtown is a true kaleidoscope of the gay community, it is a little bit of everything,” explains Oliver Alpuche, owner of the Redline – “DTLA’s Premier Bar and Lounge.”
Having opened in the summer of 2015, Redline was Alpuche’s solution to a lack of LGBT spaces in his own neighborhood. He set out to create an inclusive space for all, borrowing its namesake from the Metro Red line, and occupying ground floor space located coincidentally across the street from the original red cars of the Pacific Electric.
“Our mission statement was to make DTLA a nighttime destination for all. There is so much to see and we want people to have that safe space,” he says. The response was swift and positive, with packed weekend dance parties transforming the once barren corner into a lively destination for locals and visitors alike.
With a diverse clientele, creating an accessible and equal space means nixing bottle service and offering different nights for everyone. In addition to Eggplant Fridays and themed Saturday nights, Redline hosts Bottomless Mimosa Brunch on Sundays, and offers $5 drinks and bites during Happy Hour running Tuesday through Friday, 5-8pm. Drag lovers will have to reserve Wednesday nights for “Dragalicious,” while sipping $6 martinis or shooting $4 Pandora shots. Soon to come is ¡Bailando! which will feature Spanish dance pop, electro, disco and more every first Thursday.
“What really makes it different is the people. We are open to the entire alphabet here,” notes Alpuche of his regulars and visitors who range across the spectrum, defying typical norms found further west. He continues, “When we opened up we heard a lot of ‘thank you’ from people who come and just relax. I've had a lot of people tell me they get anxiety when they go to West Hollywood. It is great to have an option.” And the community extends beyond Redline itself, with Alpuche sitting as President of the DTLA Proud Festival, coordinated with the owners of fellow gay bars, Precinct and Bar Mattachine.
“What makes Downtown even more special. We have [Bar] Mattachine, Precinct, and New Jalisco. We all talk, we all have dinner together, we visit each other to say hi. Someone once said this, but as ‘the ocean rises, all the boats rise.’”
Written by Ivan Navarro
Photographed by Robiee Ziegler