The new co-owner of the Oasis says it will remain a gay space.
“It will be absolutely gay,” promises Vinnie Singh who, along with his brother Asish Singh and Edgar Galvan, will take over ownership of the popular Davie Village lounge Feb 1.
“It was a gay lounge. We still want to keep it that way,” Singh says.
While he notes that the new incarnation of the Oasis will be inclusive of straight customers, “the theme and everything that is going on” will still be gay.
“We’ll do drag shows and the West End model so we are looking forward to that,” he says.
Davie Entertainment Zone, the Oasis’ current owners, will retain an apartment building and the Davie St sports bar Score —formerly Sugar Daddy’s —purchased from gay-bar impresario Phil Moon in 2006.
Asked why the Oasis was put up for sale, Davie Entertainment Zone’s Jessie Ritchie says the lounge did not have as much potential as Score and the apartment building.
“We’re focusing down from expanding through Davie St into something a little more simple and straightforward,” says Ritchie.
The community has supported the Oasis and it was making money, he notes.
Ritchie says he and the rest of the Davie Entertainment Zone wanted to make both Score (originally branded as a gay sports bar) and the Oasis more inclusive of the whole West End community —not just the gay community. The group recently renovated and rebranded Score as a community bar.
“It’s worked quite well at Score and did work at Oasis but we wanted to simplify and focus and have one place for the community that people could go and it was going to be great instead of two mediocre places,” says Ritchie.
“It wasn’t public knowledge but we’ve had some discussions with our staff and our regulars about what’s happening in the West End, and obviously with the Davie Village Café closing down and the Majestic is changing over again and some other places, the trend is that gay bars aren’t doing as well as they used to,” Ritchie continues.
As society becomes more accepting, he says, more gays and lesbians are feeling more comfortable in straight spaces, and are increasingly attending gay and lesbian nights at straight clubs downtown.
“What we tried to do is make it more inclusive for everybody because that’s how we felt the community was going and that’s how I think I wanted to see our community go —as more inclusive —because a lot of places and people, your sexual orientation doesn’t mean much,” Ritchie says.
But Vince Marino, co-owner of The PumpJack Pub and Pulse —formerly the Majestic —says the gay community is not yet willing to give up its spaces.
“I’m much more comfortable going into a straight venue to see certain things,” he says, “but to the point that I would say that it’s okay not to have gay spaces that are strictly gay spaces —I personally have difficulty with that.”
Singh says he can see both sides of the argument.
“To some degree I do agree but I don’t really,” he says, adding he would consider changing Oasis in the future if there was a shift away from gay bars.
“Some of the people still feel kind of uncomfortable, whereas some people are okay. So me providing an atmosphere where they know it’s a gay bar, they will come, they will feel comfortable and if a straight person goes there and doesn’t feel comfortable, he or she will leave.”
The Oasis will keep its current staff but the new owners, a mixed gay and straight group, plan to make a few changes such as bringing back entrees and tables and adding lighting.
“We have changed our menu so it will be more like dinner, it will try to attract more of a dinner crowd and then there’s martinis and the lounge and the DJ,” says Singh.
This is Singh’s first foray into the lounge/nightclub market. He currently owns a Blenz coffee shop on Broadway and Granville Sts and set up a bartending business a few years ago.
“It’s really just the best business opportunity and destiny,” he says about the Oasis. “I was looking for a lounge for awhile. It just came my way.”
Singh is planning a grand reopening for the Oasis on Feb 5.