Anderson’s Fifth Estate, which had a 25-year run as a downtown Scottsdale nightclub and was most recently known for its ban on transgendered patrons, is now a gay dance club.
Club Forbidden opened its doors Friday evening in the same building that once housed the rock, comedy and dance club at 6820 E. Fifth Ave.
“This will be more like a New York nightclub, and I couldn’t do that under Anderson’s Fifth Estate,” owner Tom Anderson said.
Anderson, who recently lifted his ban on transgendered customers and settled a discrimination dispute with transgendered woman Michèle deLaFreniere, said the club’s change is a business — not a political — decision.
“Politics has nothing to do with it at all,” said Anderson, who was putting the final touches on the club’s face-lift Friday afternoon. “It gives the people a place in the East Valley to come and dance.”
Equality Arizona, a gay rights group that pushed for changes in Scottsdale over the past year to protect gays and transgendered people, sent a letter to its members telling them about the new club.
“I think this is really exciting, very ironic and kind of humorous,” said Sam Holdren, a spokesman for Equality Arizona. “What a great way to end the year.”
DeLaFreniere, chairwoman of Scottsdale’s Human Relations Commission, and her friends were banned from the club in the fall of 2006 after clubgoers complained about “men dressed as women” using the women’s restroom. Anderson recently relabeled one of his club’s restrooms as unisex.
The incident, coupled with attacks on gay men elsewhere in the city and a watered-down mayor’s proclamation meant to honor gays, gave momentum to an ordinance change to protect city employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The City Council approved the new regulations earlier this month, but chose not to pursue placing similar regulations on businesses.
Anderson said the yearlong dispute did give him a new business perspective.
“If anything, it gave me a better understanding of their needs,” Anderson said. “I’m a businessman in the entertainment business, and I want to provide the best entertainment that’s out there for markets that don’t get what they need.”
Forbidden will be open Thursday through Saturday nights.
Previously, BS West was the only gay bar in downtown Scottsdale.