Even straight people know that the gay scene in Fort Worth is tiny, especially when compared to the Big D, whose scene is much older, more established, and diverse.
The rule of thumb for gay-club owners here has been to offer something different, namely something Fort Worth specific, namely something countrified. The proof that there’s some merit to the rule is in Stampede, the countrified gay club that opened a couple of years ago around the same time as another Southside joint, Hot Shots, but that has stayed open while Hot Shots – basically, a go-go bar – closed after a short run. Not only is Stampede still open and becoming a perennial Fort Worth Weekly Best Of winner, but it also is solidifying its toehold in the gayborhood. In December, club owner James Allen will open another bar, this one in the space formerly occupied by The 651 Club, a couple of blocks away. The new bar will keep the 651 name officially but to promote itself will use the 651’s old nickname, The 6. “About 90 percent of the gay community here goes to Dallas,” Allen said. “We wanted to offer them more variety.”
The primary way in which The 6 differs from Stampede is in size. The 6’s dance floor, Allen said, is bigger than the entire Stampede club. The 6 also has a back patio and a capacity of 250; Stampede’s overall is 85. Allen got the idea to expand about eight months ago. He had his eye on the area adjacent to Stampede, called “North 40,” essentially three lots on Hemphill Avenue. But the day before he was about to close on the property, Allen discovered that it had already been purchased.
He has heard that multi-family housing units will be built there.
As soon as the deal fell through, Allen consulted with his manager at Stampede and decided to take over 651. Allen currently leases space at Stampede and will lease space at The 6, though he owns the paved parking lot near Stampede. One of the reasons he moved on 651 is that he’ll get to keep the old club’s phone number. “When I opened the Stampede, if we had lost the phone number [used by the previous occupant, the gay club The Corral], we would have lost about $100,000 of business,” he said.
Part of opening a new club involves hiring staff. Allen expects to hire a half-dozen workers, increasing his total number of employees to about 20 or 25. Allen’s new club probably won’t hurt the old one’s business. The clubs are almost wholly different and will have different hours. Stampede will remain open from 10 a.m. ’til 2 a.m. daily (except on Sundays, when it opens at noon), and The 6 will be open only Wednesday through Sunday and only in the evenings. (Patrons at The 6 also shouldn’t expect to see Stampede’s famous or infamous – depending – cheap beer specials.)
Also, Allen hopes to create some synergy between the two clubs. He wants to have golf carts and drivers on hand to ferry party people back and forth. Not back and forth between Fort Worth and Dallas. Just back and forth between the clubs.
21 Hemphill St, FW.