City Side (3703 Henderson Blvd., Tampa) has been a well-loved and respected part of the Tampa gay community ever since it opened back in 1990. Having been a part of the community in this area for a while, I have no doubt that many people associate a lot of good memories with this establishment. For me, it was the place where I celebrated my 21st birthday. I know it means a lot to me and I’m sure others feel the same.
Owner Jim Encke was more than happy to talk to us in an exclusive Hotspots interview, even as he was participating in this year’s Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show in Las Vegas.
Are there going to be any changes at City Side coming up in the next few months?
There will be a few changes, some cosmetic, some dealing with new theme nights.
Lights, sound, entertainment and visual appeal are all key components for setting the right atmosphere for our patrons and I want to make sure that every guest takes away from City Side an experience of a lifetime. With that ambitious goal in mind, we at City Side are working on multiple fronts to provide that experience.
- By updating our internal lighting with a multi spectrum LED system, we are able to set the mood for any occasion.
- Nightclubs cannot survive long without an outstanding sound system…and City Side is no exception. With that said, our customers should expect to hear a difference in the coming months…new speakers, new amps, and a new vibe, are on their way.
- Renovations: our sports bar patio area is currently undergoing some modest refurbishing. By fencing in our marquee, we have opened up more usable space to give our customers a more relaxed open-air environment.
Let’s talk entertainment. April is a special time of the year for us as the New Miss City Side will be crowned! City Side is also proud to host perhaps two of the Best KJ’s in all of Tampa; Certified Karaoke with Frank Tanner and Stormin Normie both pumping up the crowds on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Our guests have asked for it and we’ll deliver: City Side will be hosting monthly burlesque shows featuring Raven Lunatique! And in an effort to give back to the community, City Side is offering to host local and accomplished artists. Recently we have had the opportunity to host Kim Roberts, an outstanding musical talent and performer. We have also hosted Greg Waters, who is an accomplished local painter.
Some things will stay the same. We will continue to sponsor the C-division Tampa City Side softball team, the recent winners of the Orlando Meltdown Tournament, and the D-division Tampa Bay Jokers.
If someone here in Tampa Bay hasn’t had a chance to come over to City Side in a while, what would you say to them to entice them to return?
I would simply say to them, “Give us an opportunity to surprise you…”
Tell us about the “City Side Pride” you want to organize this June. Without giving too much away, what do you envision happening at this exciting time?
I can’t wait for June. City Side will be hosting “City Side Pride” on June 21 and 22. Basically it’s going to be one amazing block party. Lets start Tampa/St. Pete Pride off right!
Knowing City Side’s long history in Tampa, what do you think is the key to the bar’s success?
One word…people. City Side has always been a place where you could just get away and be yourself, and it’s that aspect I want to keep and expand upon.