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Bloom OTR Nightclub to Open in Former Below Zero Lounge Space | Drinks News | Cincinnati

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Photo: Emma Nurre

The exterior of Bloom OTR

The former home of a beloved local LGBTQ+ institution is getting new life with the opening of Bloom OTR. The inclusive nightclub is taking over the space previously occupied by Below Zero Lounge — the nationally recognized bar that closed in April after 15 years. 



Bloom is slated to open on June 24, in concert with Cincinnati’s Pride weekend festivities.

Emma Nurre, part owner and director of operations at Bloom, says the goal of the bar is to play off the history of the building, creating a safe space that also offers drinking, dancing and drag performances.



“We really just purchased the space for our community,” Nurre tells CityBeat. “We found the right group of people who were willing to invest and keep the bar a queer space. Ultimately, it is to honor the legacy of Below Zero and the impact that has had on our community.”

But it won’t be the exact same bar patrons remember.

click to enlarge The team behind Bloom OTR is renovating the space to make it "grown and sexy," says Director of Operations Emma Nurre. - PHOTO: EMMA NURRE

Photo: Emma Nurre

The team behind Bloom OTR is renovating the space to make it “grown and sexy,” says Director of Operations Emma Nurre.

The Bloom team has flipped the space. Where Below Zero offered weekend drag shows in the upstairs Cabaret, Bloom has renovated the first floor to open it up and accommodate a slew of weekly performances, as well as the rest of the revelry that comes with a nightclub. 



And, playing off the Bloom name, Nurre says the interior decor now leans “sleek” and is dotted with floral prints by international artist Frank Moth.

“I hate to use the word ‘femme’ or ‘feminine’ too much because the bar is encompassing of everyone, and that’s who I hope to see represented, but design-wise we’ve redone the flooring — it’s all wood — (and) the back bar has this gorgeous wooden backsplash. We have a marble bar; there’s a green wall in front. It gives — to me — sexy, elegant. Grown and sexy is the vibe.”

Renowned Cincinnati drag queen Jessica Dimon has been brought onboard as show director for Bloom.

“We definitely want to be the premier show bar (and) dance nightclub in Cincinnati,” she tells CityBeat. 


Dimon says patrons will recognize many members of the house cast she has put together.

“We’re going to bring familiar faces so when you walk in it feels like same place, different name — like an upgraded model,” she says. “So it still feels like home.” 



Currently, Dimon has plans for shows Wednesdays through Saturdays, with a yet-to-be-determined concept for Sundays.

“Wednesdays will be a burlesque-type show, Thursdays are going to be like a RuPaul’s Drag Race competition-type show and then Friday and Saturday we’re having a huge (drag) show with different celebrity guests,” she says. “We’re going to have a cast featuring local entertainers — a very well-put-together, diverse cast capturing all different types of drag out right now.”

Those concepts of diversity and inclusion are buzzwords for Dimon and Nurre as they work to develop Bloom.

“My priority (is) to make sure our community feels safe,” Nurre says. “I feel there are spaces that are considered gay bars in our community, but they are less accepting of our queer family of color, our femmes, our lesbians. I’ve been saying this since the jump: The lesbians are in hiding. I really do want everyone to come out. We’re not tailoring to any certain audience, we just are tailoring to what the community needs, I think, and that is a broader space. It’s brand new — we’re about to completely shape from the bottom up what the culture is that we cultivate in our space.”

Bloom is hosting a series of grand opening events starting with DJs on June 24, followed by an appearance in the Pride Parade on June 25 and a ticketed performance by RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 12 winner Jaida Essence Hall that evening. On June 26, the bar will host a trunk show from 2-6 p.m. featuring queer artists and designers. A portion of proceeds will go to benefit Transform Cincy, a nonprofit that offers a free closet for transgender and gender-non-conforming youth.

As of now, only the downstairs portion of Bloom is slated to open this month, but Nurre says the bar is planning to open the upstairs in two to three months. While the concept has yet to be revealed, Nurre says, “All I can say is be prepared to dance.”

With the grand opening in sight, Bloom hopes to grow into and flourish into the space that was left behind when Below Zero closed — something show director Dimon says is sorely needed.

“I really went through hell with COVID, and we all kind of survived and made it through, and then we lost Below Zero,” she says. “I feel with Below Zero closing, it was like another kick in our gut. With this, it’s like a brand new, fresh start. A new era has begun, and that’s what I think we really, really need.”


Nurre agrees.

“I hope the community embraces Bloom for everything that it is and can be. The karma of this space is so beautiful,” Nurre says. “I’m really one for bridging gaps and I want everyone in the community to come and feel that they are welcomed.”

Bloom OTR is located at 1120 Walnut St., Over-the-Rhine. For more info, visit bloomotr.com and instagram.com/bloomotr.

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