By Randall Jobe
Few clubs catering to the LGBT community have the history of the expansive and newly redeveloped Rich’s.
Standing proudly on a corner with front door and upstairs windows facing the picturesque Houston skyline, Rich’s spearhead Jeff Harmon has taken his decade-and-a half as a bar owner (Halo in Bryan/College Station) and his 23 years of experience as a bartender and created an upscale dance/party/social atmosphere that has in a few short months garnered a large popularity.
“ Although we welcome the diverse clientele that we see in clubs today,” says Harmon, “ Rich’s continues to cater to a decidedly gay crowd with energetic atmosphere, friendly bartenders and the best DJs to be found.”
The statement is easily attested to on any given night by a dance floor bursting at the seams with a bevy of fabulous fashionistas side-by-side with shirtless dance enthusiasts. Rich’s opened on Pride Saturday 2016, when club-goers were treated to elegant draperies, lighting effects, beautiful seating areas and multiple VIP areas. One such area boasts art deco peacock lamps and a huge Oriental screen—all meticulously hand-painted—plus plush seating and an enormous crystal chandelier the likes of which LGBT club enthusiasts have not seen.
Originally the plan was to create a nightclub atmosphere through New Year’s Eve and then to continue as an event venue, but the demand has been such that the plans have changed after the club was named About magazine’s Nightclub of the Year, OutSmartmagazine’s Favorite Dance Club and Best Gay Bar by Houston Press in 2016. Harmon has worked extensively with the owner of the property who gave carte blanche to the reconstruction and development. Improvements will continue with some yet-to-be-announced exciting and daring internal and external projects.
Rich’s opens its doors to the 1000-plus capacity (not including the patio) on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, with Sundays currently reserved for special events. Each night, three DJs play in three separate areas of the club, anchored by favorites Joe Ross, Melle Mel and Johnny Vibe with Patrick Ukemi and Tad Dvorak added for good measure. National and International DJs will be booked, including spin masters from exotic locales including Barcelona and Berlin.
Downstairs, a 17-by-10-foot video mapping wall continually transforms the huge dance floor as do the multi-colored light grids that can create various colors that re-imagine the atmosphere and the floor-to-ceiling plush draperies in countless variations.
Upstairs hosts more VIP areas (nine in total) and a large video lounge/show bar with a stage for drag events on Friday and Saturday nights. The room is accented with white leather sofa cushions and a beautiful view of downtown Houston. There is also an entire room featuring the video mapping and a separate DJ. White leather sofas overlook the
dance floor from several strategic viewpoints. Rich’s will also host numerous upscale drag pageants and an eight-week vocal competition called Rags to Rich’s Season 2.
Despite large crowds, waiting for a drink is not an issue. Eleven bar stations keep the pace while almost 40 staff and security persons keep things moving along. Managers Chris Tyer and Eric Ervin, along with Harmon, are responsible for all aspects of this well-oiled, fast-paced and exciting entertainment venue. A parking garage, a private lot and off-street parking provide plenty of spots for partygoers’ vehicles. On any night, those who travel by Uber are offered free cover.
It is difficult to find a long-term member of Houston’s club community who doesn’t have a favorite anecdote involving a special outing to Rich’s. Remembering events from the Garden Party, Mint Julep pageant and countless theme parties, to special guest appearances by national and local entertainers and DJs, or just dancing into the early hours of the morning, past patrons see the venue as part of their personal history. Now a new generation will experience the thrill of making new memories. “ The overall goal is to give a modern day spin to Rich’s legend of the past,” Harmon states.
Rich’s is located at 2401 San Jacinto and is available for private events, celebrations of any size, community events and fundraisers. VIP bottle service can be arranged for any number of guests. For more information go to RichsNightclub.com., or call 281-846-6685 and watch for regular print advertising MONTROSE STAR.