Monday, September 12, 2011

Cobalt (Gay Bar)

Cobalt was the old Doug's Body Shop in Ferndale. They re-modeled Doug's into Cobalt. Cobalt was a fun place and I enjoyed it while it lasted. The bar was partly owned by Tom G from Backstreet. Tom had sold Backstreet and still held the liquor license to Backstreet. He got into a fight with his new owners of Backstreet and closed it down which resulted in a lawsuit which Tom lost. The Oakland County Sheriff's dept did undercover surveillance of the place (Cobalt)  and found some drugs being sold (Wow, really? drugs in a nightclub?) and because one of the bartenders had his ass showing they forced it to close. It is now called Posh and is a straight club. People complain that there are no good large dance nightclubs in the suburbs, but if anyone does open one, the police harass the shit out of them.

7 comments:

  1. It was a fun little club. It's a shame that they closed it down long before its time. It was open back in 2001 when I was living out of state, but I went there a few times when I was back home visiting. I remember one night when I met a really hot guy and we hooked up in the bathroom stall. I must have had a really big build up, because I shot a tremendous amount all over the floor. After we finished and exited the stall, he made a crude crack to the pissed-off looking boys who had been waiting to use the facilities. "Don't slip on the jizz in there!" he said. What a pig! I just laughed it off and made my way to bar for another drink, eager to get the taste of him out of my mouth. I was a real whore back then, but it was all for fun and good times.

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  2. Not exactly all the true history on Cobalt, Chris. Cobalt was under surveilance and was issued drug violations but it was never closed by the Police or Sheriff. Only the MLCC has that authority and Tom saved the license by negotiation with the MLCC. There was never a "bartender" or any other charged violation of that type, it was all drug investigation. I recall Tom telling me that his partners were so drugged up, they couldn't run the bsuiness. No owners were ever charged as the police only did business with the customers and some customes suffered heavily when it went to Court. The bar or owners were never part of or had to appear in Court. That part was handled by Tom with the MLCC and none of the other 4 partners ever showed up in the MLCC Court due to their shame. Unbeknown to the other partners, Tom had already retrieved his investment collateral from the bank way before the bar closed. Even during the closing they tried to screw Tom. Didn't work except for the money the stole. The partners had been stealing funds and trying to pay themselves ever since the bar opened. Tom found out from the beginning what poor businessmen they were and leaving a trail a mile wide of their thefts. As is not unusual in this case, almost all of the employees were involoved in drug sales in the bar, thefts, giving away, excessively, drinks and othere favors to customers. That's because the partners hired all their criminal friends who raped the business. Tom had a lot of close friends unknown by the partners who watched and knew what was going on with the business. All of them never once opened their mouth to save or support Tom which was his request. He just took the info and made his plans. Part of that plan was to quietly re-open Backstreet which he did. He wouldn't like my revealing all this even now as I was one of his closest friends. But after 12 years, wherever he is now, he is having the last laugh with all the spoils anyone could ever want.

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    1. Yes, I remember when Tom reopened Backstreet. His Cobalt partners were pissed, Tom emptied all Cobalt customers to Backstreet and about every other bar too on opening night. There must have been over 2,000 people opening night at $10 per person. There were 12 bartenders as opposed to the usual 8 and you had to stand in line for a drink all night. Best party I ever saw. He completely renovated the club and it was beautiful. Once again Tom showed his ability to run a club. His partners destroyed Cobalt and everyone knew it and how they tried to fool and rob Tom. In the next year Tom made back more money than all the time Cobalt was ever open and paid off the reopening cost of Backstreet. He sure knew what he was doing. Too bad his partners didn't follow Tom's expertise in the club business, they would be riding high today. If they lost money, they deserved it. Tom did better than ever and didn't lose Backstreet until 3 years later. By then, he had made back all he lost and socked it away where no one got it. Maybe many people didn't like Tom but he was fair and generous to the community and a good businessman. He was hard to deal with but he had respect for what he did even if he wasn't well liked. I liked Backstreet then and it's not the same anymore. Never will be again, those days are gone. You can tell the difference when there is a sleazy bar owner who takes advantage of customers and gives nothing back to the community. No kidding about it, people know who the good people are and who the incompetent thieves and bad owners are.

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  3. I loved the drugs they sold at Cobalt. And DJ Bill Bennett. He had everything you ever wanted. And the Abercrombie boys were EVERYWHERE! HAWT!

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  4. My main memory of this place was that I could only think of was what a shame they did to the former Doug's Body Shop. That place had some character, actually. I never really "connected" with Cobalt and now I'm sure of the reason. I believe for a period of time it was just about the only place available to go out in a safe area if you wanted to.

    I was, let's just say, "more than friends" with one of the friends of that, ahem, "inner circle". Years later another guy I met that was associated with him agreed with me that he could be a good guy but needed to be pulled away from them. "Exactly", was his response. Just very bad vibes, especially with one in particular. Always got snarky looks from him whether inside or outside that place. After reading about the drug issues there after it's closure, I kinda figured it out. It was as if he knew I "knew". I was then known as "the guy that kinda keeps to himself". Go figure.

    Some of us just go out for a good time, a temporary escape, a ride in the car, whatever, without getting involved in all that drama and drugs......believe it or not.

    I knew something wasn't right and that place was doomed when I went on a rather slow night and the cops were in/out all night (odd) and some young punk type came up and blatantly asked if I needed some X in the main area. I just thought they dealt in the bathrooms, parking lots or alleys. Definitely some type of sting going on.

    Never quite bought the hype over the DJ either. There were some much more talented in Detroit at the time. Quite frankly, I could have done what he did. Got bad vibes from him years before all of this too. Just a bunch of marketing, fancy ads, hearsay, obvious "connections" and _________________(insert your imagination here) in my humble opinion.

    Trust your instincts, I guess.

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  5. P.S. If this was the idea of opening a "good, large dance club in the suburbs" and the police then "harrass the shit out of them", there was obviously good reason.

    Although Ann Arbor is not considered a suburb, I never witnessed anything like this in that large dance club. And that's QUITE the liberal town.

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    1. I see from these readings, this place established quite the reputation in the short time it was open, good and bad. I think a record short-time open for a gay bar in Detroit. Whoever was running the place knew nothing about gay bars or the gay community in Detroit, either that or they were on drugs. What a shame to throw away a gold mine and a multi-million dollar business because of drugs. This place would be still strong today, making a fortune, if they hadn't had such poor management. Customers will take advanage of your allowing drugs and care nothing for you or your business. Owner should have known.

      And after the closing, Backstreet took the reign of the City again and hit new heights in revenue. Now there's good management for you and someone who understands the business. I went a few times to all bars in those days but Backstreet was grossing millions more than all others put together, just put a pencil to it: number of people there, how they drank and cost of drinks and cover. That's what you're in business for and relating to the community.

      After reading all these comments, it is easy to see the history of Backstreet and that it will never be back as it was. Cobalt was a disaster, they say, due to managing. Hard to believe the same person was involved with Backstreet and Cobalt. One bar a Star, the other a burned out cinder.

      All-in-all, glad to see the original Backstreet owner retired with his pockets full and the others lost their shirt, and subsequent owners still struggling to try to bring it back and can't. Got egg-on-his-face and won't wash off. Sadly, the biggest loser is the gay community for having lost the biggest and best club in Michigan.

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