In advance of ICandy's 5 Year Anniversary party, PhillyGayCalendar Blogger, Jonathon Edmunds, got the opportunity to chat with co-owner and events director, Michael DePiano, and creative mind behind the nightclub's newest addition, Blur.
How are you feeling about the upcoming debut of the new lounge, Blur?
I am SO EXCITED for this room to open. But not just because of Blur, but because it’s going to transform the whole second floor and pull in all of the work we did last year in the Arena.
What kind of atmosphere/experience can we expect from the space?
This space actually reflects my personal style, more so than any of the other rooms I’ve done here. It’s a sort of modern take on a 90’s underground, New York bar. There’s also a new performance area for different types of things, other than what we already do in the Arena.
What inspired the change and the direction?
Well, we’re constantly changing, as is the “Scene” in the area surrounding us. Social Media has changed the bar and nightclub industry astronomically in the past 10 years, and you can't really afford to just sit idle and watch the trends pass. In an age where Snapchat only allows people a window of up to 10 seconds for a single idea, we’re ecstatic to have been able to keep everyone’s interest for 5 whole years. These changes are how we plan on keeping the interest high! However, the direction of this space in particular, definitely aimed more towards our performers. Not only is there a stage, but also a “Real” dressing room. I want performers, both local and “famous," to WANT to perform at my venue.
ICandy has seen numerous changes over the past five years. Which part of the club are you most proud of?
My personal favorite so far, is definitely the Arena. That space has completely transformed our weekly lineup to offer not only customers, but performers, so much more than we could’ve with the old space.
What can we expect from the 5th anniversary and grand opening party?
It’s a Gala Event! We like to consider it the Un-Official start to spring (usually that’s when the weather starts cooperating, fingers crossed). But, our biggest emphasis that day is customer appreciation, and celebrating the people who have given us the opportunity to be open for 5 years. What better way to do it than with a brand new space and a huge party!?
Who’s hosting, who’s performing, who will be behind the bars?
Ahh yes, the meat and potatoes of the party! Aloe Vera, our current reigning Miss ICandy, will be hosting for the evening. Hopefully I can get her in a gown and she keeps her meat and potatoes covered too! …She keeps me young.
Our main opener is the Haus of Ham, they have something really special planned to welcome the AAA Girls to Philly. La Dolce Spina and the Candy Shoppe have a little diddy, and I’m also working on solidifying a few other really exciting local groups to celebrate with us! And of course, the #AAA Girls! Alaska 5000, Courtney Act, and Willam have a huge show for everyone.
Behind the bars will be some fresh meat too! Not just fresh bartenders but also fresh drinks. We’ll be debuting a new drink menu for each of the 5 rooms. Tim Whelen (you can find him bar tending in Blur at the party) and I have been working really hard on them, we have over 40 new or updated cocktails.
ICandy has seen a shit ton of performers from all over, walk through its doors over the years, who is your favorite performer to work with and why? Doesn’t have to be Philly…
That is a hard one! I’d have to say my favorite was when we had DWV (Detox, Willam, and Vicky Vox). The energy that they brought out of the crowd was just incredible. All three of them were really great to work with, too.
ICandy has been opening up to host a bunch of shows recently – everything from quizzo and See You in Hell to weekly Drag Race viewing parties (and my favorite) Drag Arena – which is your favorite event to host?
Hmm I’d have to say out of all of my weekly things going on right now, Drag Arena is my favorite and will always be my baby. My husband always joked with me about never being able to have a crowd on a Monday, and I love a challenge. As far as some of the “one offs” that we do, I really have to give a shoutout to the Haus of Ham. They are always coming to me with fresh, awesome concepts for shows and events. They are super professional, and always bring a crowd (and cast) of amazing people.
It seems like ICandy is always changing, and there’s always something new To look forward to. What can we expect in the future?
Well, with this new space, we’ll definitely have a change in our weekly and monthly lineup for events and shows. We like to keep ICandy, as a whole, a very versatile venue with the renovations to the different rooms. You can definitely expect to see more “Girls from out of town" (to avoid using the “R” word)” on the ICandy stages, to compliment the talent that we have right here in Philly! (Oh, and as far as the future of changes for ICandy, my calendar is telling me that the Baja Tiki Deck is next up for a facelift!)
Come out to ICandy's 5 Year Anniversary Party on April 23 at 10pm for what looks to be a AAA all star party!