The Elite Is Not Exactly Gay Disneyland

More like Gay DIY.

"Enter as strangers, leave as friends," proclaims a sign above the bar at the Elite, a slogan always good for a louche titter at a gay bar. The Elite Tavern hung on at its former Broadway location long enough to become Capitol Hill's oldest gay bar at the time it closed a year ago. But instead of giving in to gentrification, the owners took over a new location on East Olive, though permitting issues kept them from reopening for 10 months. I've passed the papered-over windows so many times that I expected the place to reopen as Gay Disneyland, complete with dancing fountains and animatronic strippers, but the reality turned out to be Gay DIY. From the street, the new Elite (minus the "Tavern" since it has a full bar) casts a UFO glow, a blend of neon beer sign and Home Depot chandelier. Its interior decorator has worked a quirky peach-and-mint-green color scheme, accented by two massive TVs, a lion statue, a Simpsons pinball machine, and a hodgepodge of thrift-store furniture. But there's something appealing about the place, as the crowd on a Wednesday night attested. Just as the Elite hasn't discovered its aesthetic, it hasn't yet discovered its target market. Career drunks nursing their pints of Pride Lite rubbed shoulders with white-collar men stopping by for a Maker's Mark on the way home from the office, and wasp-waisted hipster boys kept flitting about the edges, though most seemed to be headed for the loft above the pool table so they wouldn't be seen from the street. Making no attempt to create a scene, right now the Elite may be the closest thing Seattle has to a gay neighborhood pub. Enter as strangers....1510 E. Olive Way.

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