Whether you loved it or loathed it, CP was definitely an institution. As the longest running gay bar in Ottawa, when it closed in early 2017, the community was reeling from the news. Rumours that it was in trouble had been circulating for some time, but its abrupt closure leaves a void in Ottawa's gay scene that may never fully be filled again.
The bar, a converted brick Victorian-area home, opens as Overdraft briefly before a name change to Central Park, with Zippers on the upper level. It caters to a primarily older male demographic, and becomes the home of the Ottawa Knights leather community for decades, with monthly Bar Knights being held on the second Saturday of the month.
The bar eventually is renamed Centretown Pub, although a Central Park convex light fixture in the foyer's ceiling remained until its closing. The lower bar in the basement is called Silhouette Lounge, a tiny space that at one time is a piano bar and offers weekly shows by Sherrie Gold and Dan, a musical couple who is still talked about among those who remember them.
Years later, a karaoke night was hosted here, then upstairs on Sundays, then finally on the main floor. The main level was multi roomed with a bar dominating the front room, and a few tables lining one wall and a banquette lining the front bay window.
The back room had a pool table that overwhelmed the room and was hard to get around players bent over for a shot. The back outdoor patio came alive in the summer, packed to the rafters on Sundays. The front patio was a great place to chill and people watch on a warm day.
Upstairs, called Cell Block, things used to get a little raunchier. CP was the cruisiest bar in Ottawa, and the upper bar saw a lot of action. A balcony tier overlooked the metal dance floor (which was always slippery and dangerous with spilled beer) and it was pretty clear if you were hanging out there what you were looking for.
The bathrooms were also pretty notorious, and at one time, there was a backroom. For many years, there were drag acts that were adored, then progressively merely tolerated before they stopped entirely.
Towards the end of its life, the bar was getting progressively shabby. The bathrooms were foul smelling and always in need of repair. The old features of the space were quaint, but not well maintained. But coming here was a right of passage for some and a beloved space by others.
Luckily, T's Pub opened nearby after CP closed. It's smaller, but cleaner and more attractive, so hopefully it does very well.
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