Heretic celebrates 30th anniversary with gay dance legends

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As Atlanta’s gay nightlife landscape and the scenery on Cheshire Bridge Road constantly morphs, one LGBTQ spot remains constant. The city’s longest-running home of gay male dance parties, Heretic turns 30 this month.

When Bev Cook opened the place in 1991 in the former home of lesbian bar Sportspage, no one could predict 2021 and all the changes the bar has seen — least of all current general manager Alan Collins.

“Insert Head exploding emoji here,” Collins laughed. “I don’t think any of us imagined we would last this long.  It’s a big deal for any business to be open after 30 years, but a gay bar? Incredible.”

With an open door policy to LGBTQ party planners of every ilk, serving as a special event hub and huge collaborator with other bars, as well as being home base for Atlanta bears, Heretic is one of the longest lasting gay bars in Atlanta.

Only a blowout party would do to celebrate that kind of longevity and commitment to community.

Naturally, Collins pulled out the stops for the Big 3-0. DJ Joe Gauthreaux headlines with local favorite Mike Pope opening. To top it, Kristine W. flies in to perform a set of her club hits.

“We’ve been fortunate enough to have Joe and Mike spin for our anniversary party the last several years, and they are both are so talented,” Collins said. “And I’ve been a Kristine W fan as long as I can remember.  We’ve all danced to her hits on the Heretic dance floor over the years.”

Collins wasn’t even sure he could get the singer to come before a silver lining showed itself during a tough time last year.

“I never thought in a million years she would actually perform at Heretic.”

In 2020, DJ Tony Moran got Kristine to perform a pandemic lockdown-era benefit for displaced Heretic employees. That event, which raised an amazing $15,000 for out-of-work staff, also included singer Debby Holiday.

“After working with Kristine on that event, I promised myself I would hire her one day,” Collins said. “Well that day has come, and it’s our 30th Anniversary.  I can’t tell you how excited I am.”

Just as excited as he is about the event, he is as touched by the customer loyalty that the bar inspires. He said he owes customers “a huge heartfelt thank you.”

“Our patrons are the reason we do what we do, the reason I get out of bed every day,” Collins said. “ I am humbled every day knowing, after 30 years, people still consider Heretic one of their top nightlife destinations.”

Visit hereticatlanta.com.

This feature also appeared as the cover story of Q ATLus magazine. Flip through the full issue online here:

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