A Look Inside The Sail Inn's New Look, and Why The Door in Tempe Went Gay

I was fortunate enough to be in attendance last night at an invite-only preview of The Sail Inn, which is re-opening to the drinking public this weekend after a three year absence from the Tempe music and nightlife scene.

It really couldn't have come at a better time, as I've been hearing numerous bitchings lately from local musicians about how there's a dearth of venues booking shows around the Valley. This certainly is the case for downtown Tempe, where there's little live music to be had these days along the danceateria-heavy Mill Avenue.

With this thought in mind, owner Gina Lombardi, invited plenty of Valley bands and musicians out to the party. The place was packed and I spied members of The Noodles, Chocolate Fountain, Sole Function, The Carey Slade Band, Bargrass Revival, and others from the rock scene. (Click here for a slideshow of others who were in attendance at the fete). Lombardi says she's also hoping to book more hip-hop along the lines of Antedote and other backpack rappers like him at the place, as well as some funk acts.

So what else has changed at the place?

As I mentioned last week, the Sail's digs are looking much cleaner than when it was a shabby dive-like place back in the day. Lombardi's kept some of the décor touches from Trax, the dance club that took over the spot after she left, including some of the silky curtains, leather couches, and colored glow lights illuminating the walls.

She also spruced up the outdoor stage, which now boasts a separate bar for when patrons get thirsty after hearing a 15-minute guitar solo by Xtra Ticket during the three-day re-opening party this weekend. The venue's Web site has all the details.

Elsewhere in the Tempe nightlife scene, I received word that dance spot The Door has been transformed into a gay bar. For those who never got a chance to visit the place, it was a rather tiny nightspot that's tucked away in a north Tempe strip mall next to a Pure Fitness.

The Door originally launched in 2005 as a member of the Dos Gringos chain of bars and restaurants and had something of a speakeasy set-up, where patrons could get in by gleaning a password from the bar's web site or having a special "key" (For "the door," get it?). The shtick wore off after awhile and the club became more of a hip-hop hangout (it was the original home of Karlie Hustle's Groove Candy night) and changed ownership a few times.

Jim Vigil and Chris Smith, the new managing partners of The Door, decided to see if it would be more successful as a gay spot and re-launched the establishment a few weeks back. They 86'd all of the red-drenched décor and sexy pin-up posters that dominated the bar, replacing it with more of warm-toned color scheme and large abstract paintings by local artists. It's currently Tempe's only gay joint, and has started hosting amateur stripper night on Thursdays.

Peep the web site for more weekly events, like a cabaret night that's starting soon.

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.