New dance spot may open at former blues club<BR>The Maine Archive on the Queer Resources Directory

Monday, February 3, 1997

New dance spot may open at former blues club

A dance club that may feature male exotic dancers and female impersonators plans to open in Portland this month in the building that housed Morganfield's blues club.

The nightclub at 121 Center St. would be named Millennium and cater primarily to Portland's gay and lesbian community. The club is tentatively scheduled to open on Feb. 28, said Andrew P. Rogers of Scarborough, one of the club's three investors.

The City Council will consider the club's request for a lounge license during its meeting at 7:30 p.m. today at City Hall.

The club's plan to feature male exotic dancers and ''live novelty shows'' on Friday and Saturday nights comes at a time when some elected officials are looking to ban topless dancing citywide. As a prelude to that effort, the City Council voted Jan. 22 to prohibit topless dancing in the Old Port.

However, it appeared Friday that the activities planned at Millennium would not run afoul of that ban.

''We're not saying you can't do anything that's exotic or sexual, you just can't go nude,'' said Councilor Charles W. Harlow, a longtime opponent of nude dancing. ''I can't imagine any problems with the license.''

Rogers said there would be ''absolutely no nude activity'' at the club. He said the ''live novelty shows'' could include female impersonators - men dressed as women - but he noted that none of the entertainment has been finalized.

''We're not even sure that's going to fly,'' said Rogers, who would manage the club's bar. ''We just wanted to make sure we put everything in the proposal to cover our bases.''

The shows are planned to attract a crowd to Millennium, which would be an ''upscale'' nightclub marketed ''primarily for gay, lesbian and bisexual clientele,'' according to a proposal filed with the city.

Other nights would be geared toward heterosexuals, as well as ''chemical-free'' events for all ages, the application states.

''This structure is planned to take advantage of a niche market in Portland, namely the gay, lesbian and bisexual market which currently has a strong need, if not a mandate, for an alternative to their usual weekend entertainment,'' the application states.

In addition to Rogers, the club would be run by Bruce W. Wild of Old Orchard Beach and Derek S. Morris of Boston. Wild would manage the facility, while Morris, a former jail guard, would be in charge of security.

The three men plan a lounge and atrium on the first floor, and a dance floor on the second floor.

Morganfield's blues club closed in May. Its owner, Ed Noyes, put the building up for sale in December. The asking price for the two-story building at Center and Free streets was $650,000.

Several parties reportedly were interested in the building, including Zootz nightclub, which must move from its home on Forest Avenue as part of an agreement with the city.

Rogers said Friday that the Millennium investors are leasing the building with an option to buy. He declined to disclose terms of the deal.

They say they chose the Morganfield's location, near the Cumberland County Civic Center, to ''minimize complaints and potential trouble from neighbors.''

Councilor Cheryl A. Leeman, whose committee wrote the Old Port topless dancing ban, said Friday that it ''would be nice to have somebody take over that building.''

Also Monday, city councilors will vote on a liquor license for the new owner of Granny Killam's on Market Street. The popular live music venue has been closed since August.

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