New bar and burlesque venue set to add sparkle to downtown Colorado Springs | Culture & Leisure
Before descending the stairs and before getting carried away by the glow and the spectacle, stop for a moment in front of a photo.
Beside a sign detailing Bunny Bee’s notable background in slapstick, there is a portrait of the blonde woman in a silky red dress as she sat in a leather chair.
“This is Snoop Dogg’s chair,” she said, casually pointing to the star rapper.
This kind of detail confirms what the sign next to his photo says. Bunny Bee is a star in her own right. And opening this place – the cabaret-style restaurant and bar that awaits you at the bottom of the stairs – has been his twinkling dream in the sky for over a decade.
After years of wishing and months of renovations, La Burla Bee is ready to shine, even if Wednesday’s windstorm delayed things a bit.
The new hangout and nightlife entertainment venue was scheduled to open Friday near Nevada Avenue and Kiowa Street in downtown Colorado Springs, but storm damage caused a delay; however, the opening should not be postponed for more than two weeks.
To find La Burla Bee, open a red door next to the Oscars Oyster Bar and go down a level to be greeted by an elegant bar with stone and brick walls. The underground vibe will be familiar to some patrons who have visited this place in its years as The Underground, a popular gay bar that closed in 2018.
Bee said she was looking for locations, but this one clicked as a way to carry on the building’s LGBTQIA tradition.
“When this place first came into being it meant so much because so many people have so many memories here,” she said. “And we can bring him back to life.”
As much La Burla Bee is an ode to its owner, with toy bumblebees hidden in secret spots and a menu of Italian cuisine in honor of its heritage and a nod to its name, she says the place has a higher vocation.
Bee, along with her business partner and husband, Bee Radd, wanted to bring something new to downtown Colorado Springs.
“We wanted to create a safe, inclusive space for people to come and experience what Colorado Springs has to offer,” he said.
Bunny Bee also wanted to honor the burlesque artists who came before her and the art form in general. It’s clear to see walking down a hallway that she calls “the La Burla Bee museum”. One wall is covered with photos of burlesque legends, past and present, and another serves as a scrapbook of memories.
“The photos on these walls are my heart,” she said.
A native of Trinidad in southern Colorado and a longtime Colorado Springs resident, she made her burlesque debut in 2009 with local band Peaks and Pasties.
“From the moment I started doing this, I just fell in love with it,” she said. “It’s the art of empowerment.
Bee, also an experienced model, immersed herself in burlesque, becoming a well-known artist and industry leader. She is now the director of Peaks and Pasties, co-owner of the Colorado Burlesque Festival and chair of the board of directors of the Las Vegas-based Burlesque Hall of Fame.
With these connections, you can expect to see the best burlesque artists from all over the world come to the stage at La Burla Bee.
Or, more precisely, stages.
There is a stage in the front “vaudeville hall”, a bar and a dining room which will host comedians, musicians and other performers. At the bottom, after winding through labyrinthine corridors, you will find the biggest stage of burlesque shows. Keep going and you’ll come across “The Beehive,” a dance floor and performance space that will open up to patrons after the shows.
“We call it an animal-free circus,” she said. “It will be an experience from the time we open until the time we close each night. “
It’s an experience just to see the details of La Burla Bee, which has a capacity of 280 people and totals approximately 9,000 square feet.
There’s a cage galore for the dancers, a showcase of glittering pastries worn by the artists, glittering chandeliers, and a piano that Bee has covered in glitter.
The glitter can be spotted elsewhere, sprinkled on bathroom floors and sinks. The shimmering fabric is a reminder that La Burla Bee is a place of celebration. For the bar’s namesake, it is a place to celebrate the road traveled and the road traveled by his city.
“There was a time when the idea of opening a dedicated cabaret would not have been well received in this city,” said Bee.
Now it’s almost here.
“Something like this is so needed in downtown Colorado Springs,” she said. “We just want to share it with everyone.”