On Saturday, everyone's fears were confirmed when the bar announced in a Facebook post that they would be permanently closing the nightclub's famed Denny Triangle location due to the pandemic.
"Right before I hit that send button, I was in the venue and did a little walk around," said Re-bar co-owner Dane Wilson over the phone today. "It definitely felt like a grief from losing a loved one or a partner. It was like a breakup."
But Re-bar will not be gone for good.
Wilson says that they are going on hiatus for the next 18 months and looking to reopen the club in 2021 somewhere in south Seattle—like Georgetown, South Park, or Columbia City—where he says many of Re-bar's patrons are currently living. And with the reopening, he's also hoping to have a space to accommodate food and bar service any night of the week, a concept that didn't quite get off the ground in the Denny Triangle location.
They had just celebrated their 30th anniversary with a big blowout party featuring legends like DJ Riz Rollins, Sherry Vine, and Joey Arias—two weeks before being forced to shut down alongside other bars, clubs, and performance spaces. While some sort of change was certainly on the horizon for Re-bar after their landlords decided to put the property up for sale last year, this unexpected crisis turned everything upside down.
In December of 2019, Re-bar created surveys and gave them to their patrons, asking if Re-bar should stay, move, or go away. Of the 5,000 responses they received, Wilson said most wanted the club to "dig in" to their current location. "A lot of people, and myself, feel like a lot of the energy and the ethos of the Re-bar is based on where's it [located] and the physical structure," he said.
But the new social distancing rules mandating that nightclubs are not allowed to reopen until Phase 4 of the governor's plan seriously threw a wrench into that idea. The venue is spending $10,000 a month to stay closed, and with no financial relief from the city or vendors coming their way—Wilson said the only grant they've received was, funnily enough, from Amazon's Neighborhood Small Business Relief Fund—the decision was made to move from the Denny Triangle location.
For now, the venue is focusing on keeping their popular dance nights like Flammable and DnB going as well as other one-off events, turning to Twitch to connect with their community as other bars—like R Place—have done during this shut down. While they receive some donations during the stream (there's no entry fee), these nights are mostly a chance for the regulars to reconnect in the comment section and for viewers across the world to tune in. Wilson tells me that when the bar reopens, they'll try and continue these livestreams "indefinitely."
Though upset at the ending of this chapter in Re-bar's history, Wilson sounded hopeful for the venue's future. "I think that we're strong enough and the Re-bar brand is strong enough that we can carry through that 18-month gap that's going to happen before we open up doors again," he told me. Let's hope.