LAVISH London: A safe space for all

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: DEE-DEE SAMUELS
LAVISH is a now a vibey club that offers high-art drag entertainment. Nowhere else will you get the quality and variety of drag kings and queens performing.

LAVISH London nightclub, located at 283 Dundas St., in London, Ont. has always been home to the alternative, unique, and quirky underground community of the city. It’s one of downtown London’s most unique landmarks, known particularly for being a safe but dazzling, atmospheric space for the LGBTQ2S+ community to express themselves. Zoltan Harasty recently took over sole ownership of the club pre-pandemic, and for obvious reasons, had to do some serious soul-searching as to how he was going to pivot the club while remaining true to its roots.

“We do lots of successful drag performances, we’re entering into more of like, artistic drag, burlesque, with great dance music with our DJ,” Harasty said.

Harasty even made a huge investment by adding a kitchen, so as to offer food service to the establishment. “We are now more of an ultra-lounge supper club, type of vibe,” Harasty said. “Our goal is to have an all-inclusive space for anybody, not just people from the community, but for anybody, even ‘normal’ walks of life, people feel like they don’t belong. Here, they can feel and be who they want to be, without judgment.”

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So, what does LAVISH have to offer that you can’t get anywhere else in London? The answer to that question is, a lot. The lockdown saw more and more people tap into their creative sides and so too did local drag artists, according to Kelly Roy, one of LAVISH’s club promoters. “A lot of the artists that would normally have been in clubs performing were doing video performances during the pandemic and posting videos on Facebook so they’ve evolved from pre-pandemic to being very polished drag performers,” Roy said.

Harasty said that although drag performances have become more commercialized and commonplace, LAVISH is still a cut above the rest. “We put forth that extra effort into our performances. Nothing compares to how beautiful our venue now is. We have drag kings, there’s different types of drag, we have androgynous drag, you won’t see anything like that unless you come to LAVISH.”

LAVISH is a now a vibey club that offers high-art drag entertainment. Nowhere else will you get the quality and variety of drag kings and queens performing. Nowhere else will you be able to experience well-crafted burlesque entertainment. Roy said she is super excited that the club is now also offering open mic nights for anyone who wishes to come and express themselves through music, comedy, or their own particular brand of drag. “We have the posters out on the LAVISH pages and anyone can just contact myself and say, ‘we want to come in and do a drag show,’ or, ‘we want to come in and do stand-up comedy.’ And they can just message me and say what they want to do and this is their safe space to do it.”

Although Harasty believes it will take some time to get the club back up to pre-pandemic numbers, LAVISH has come out of the pandemic in style, and perhaps some spangly high heels. The club is also fully prepared and pumped for Pride. “It’s two weekends, we’re fully slated for events with performances,” Harasty said. “We’ve got allies holding events, drag queens and kings, burlesque, music and DJs.”

Harasty’s passion for the club and creating a unique, fun and entertaining space is evident but it’s his ethos that really sets him, and LAVISH, apart.

“I don’t like to exclude anybody and there’s no point to,” he said. “Why exclude anybody, punk rockers, geeks, everybody can come and be who they want to be, without judgment.”

LAVISH is a unique gem, and home to a much-needed underground scene that welcomes everyone. Pride festivities are approaching (July 14-24) so it’s a great time to ‘express yourself, don’t repress yourself,’ as one ambitious blonde once said.