Move to 24 hours leads club to take off
Backstreet was purchased by Vicki Vara’s father in the mid-1970s and the club was first named Encore. Before it became a 24hour club in the mid-1980s, Backstreet was known for its Sunday T-dances, Vara said.
“We would bring in big entertainers. Sylvester came. I thought it was just wonderful,” said Vara, who later owned the club with her brother, Henry. “It was strictly gay and exclusive in the beginning.”
When Backstreet became a private 24hour club around 1985 or 1986, the club truly took off, Vara said, and on a good weekend, some 6,000 people would pass through the front doors.
“When we went 24 hours, crowds sorted and the straight people went upstairs,” Vara said. “I loved it because we finally had such a good reputation … it always had been like a family.”
Backstreet earned national and international acclaim during these years and attracted some of the hottest acts of the time – Sylvester, Gladys Knight, the Weather Girls.
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October 14, 2016