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The staff and clientele at BarCodes (4453 Edgewater Dr., Orlando), a fixture in the Central Florida gay scene, will be celebrating five years in business very soon. Parties and prize giveaways will commemorate the bar’s fifth anniversary weekend coming up on Friday, March 21, and Saturday, March 22.

There are many prizes on offer for the anniversary weekend. So many, in fact, that it may relatively easy for you to attend and walk away with some fine loot. First, there will be raffle drawings on Friday and Saturday nights, with winnings totaling over $500 in cash! Also, the owner has four tickets for Cher’s May 16 concert date at the Amway Center; he will be giving away a pair of tickets each night. Other prizes on offer include resort stays at the Parliament House in Orlando and the Flamingo in St. Petersburg, plus some secret prizes that will only be revealed at the bar on Friday and Saturday.

In addition, the Hope and Help Center of Central Florida, the region’s largest HIV/AIDS service organization, will be on-site Friday evening to provide free and confidential HIV testing and information to all people in attendance.

For people who have not been to BarCodes, it is a neighborhood bar where people will quickly remember your name. The dress is casual, come on in wearing jeans and a T-shirt and you’ll fit in just fine. That is, unless it’s leather night or underwear night, which in those cases you should probably show a little more skin! There is also an adjoining store, The Store @ BarCodes, so as long as you have money in your bank account, you can participate in some of the steamy leather and underwear events even if you didn’t come prepared!

BarCodes loves to give back to the Orlando gay community. They have been supporters of the aforementioned Hope and Help Center of Central Florida since BarCodes first opened for business. BarCodes also loves to give back to the Genesis Community Project, which helps to better the lives of at-risk youth. The bar has also played host venue to fundraisers hosted by the Orlando chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

In an exclusive Hotspots interview, I got the chance to speak with owner Raymond Burton.

How does it feel now that BarCodes is celebrating its fifth anniversary?

It feels rewarding. My partner David and I have worked very hard to offer a place in the community to make people feel comfortable, and at ease at BarCodes. Would we do it all over again if given the chance?  ABSOLUTELY.

Which events have made you feel happiest and proudest as owner?

Well, we really have two responses. First of all, in December 2010, we had the opportunity to purchase the land and buildings. By making this purchase/investment we became self-assured that BarCodes would be a long-term success. Second, we have striven to give back to the community. One day every week we denote a portion of our sales to go directly to charity within the Central Florida area. Both our customers and the charities are proud of how we give back.

Tell us about The Store @ BarCodes.  What do you sell there?

We sell a large variety of specialty men’s clothing. From swimwear to underwear, T-shirts, jocks, and baseball caps.  We also sell leather goods, novelties, aromas and lubes. We often describe “The Store” as the Spencer Gifts for the gay clientele.

What is unique at BarCodes that sets you apart from other bars in Central Florida?

Our customers. We get a nice group of customers who are willing to talk to newcomers, and we make them feel welcomed.  If you’re single or attached with someone, everyone has a good time at BarCodes.

We have different theme nights, from underwear nights, to karaoke, to leather nights (the last Saturday of each month). Both BarCodes and The Store @ BarCodes are open from noon until 2 a.m. 365 days of the year.

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