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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Halo reconstruction nears completion

Halo+has+been+closed+for+over+a+year+after+a+portion+of+the+popular+bar+caught+on+fire%2C+but+now+renovations+are+close+to+being+finished+and+the+bar+hopes+to+reopen+by+the+end+of+the+year.
With a selection of over 80,000 songs, Halo Bar, a modern, upscale dance club located on N. Main St. in Bryan, hosts karaoke night every Thursday. (File photo)

Teeming with music, dancing and entertainment, Halo was one of the most popular clubs within the Bryan-College Station until it was nearly destroyed by an electrical fire in July 2015. Now, 15 months after the club’s indefinite closing, owner Jeff Harmon said he can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“One reason we’ve refrained from giving [opening] dates is because over the last year-plus we were giving dates and would announce it, and then not make it,” Harmon said. “We are beyond major construction now.”

According to Harmon, the renovation process has been prolonged because the historical building’s age left little to be salvaged after the incident. There was major water damage caused by the fire.

“Basically when something this catastrophic happens, [officials] want to make sure that if it were to ever happen again that there’s more safety mechanisms in place,” Harmon said. “It just wasn’t a small fire is what I’m trying to get at. We had to determine what was salvageable and what was not and the process of bringing a historic building to modern day code, and that’s the problem we’ve had — it just takes time.”

The absence of Halo left patrons not only without one of the few dance clubs in town, but it left the LGBT community with one less “safe space.” College Station resident Marco Martinez formerly performed in Halo’s weekly drag show as Nirvana Piranha. Martinez said although B-CS is becoming more accepting, LGBT locals took a major hit when their club of choice closed.

“I think that’s why I miss Halo so much because it didn’t matter if you were straight or gay or a punk kid or a scene kid or liked to do drag — everyone was welcomed there,” Martinez said. “As soon as you walked through those doors you could breathe and just hang loose and not worry about anything.”

Bar 12’s drag shows on Wednesday nights might emulate a similar atmosphere, but since Bar 12 isn’t a gay club, patrons can sometimes be more antagonistic, Martinez said.

“While Bar 12 is nice and has a similar atmosphere [to Halo] — on Wednesdays at least — it’s not a gay bar and it’s not marketed as a gay bar,” Martinez said. “So a lot of people who go there are a little taken aback, which I don’t blame them, but the way that they react can be somewhat confrontational sometimes. There’s still a lot of room for improvement, but when I go to Bar 12 I see a lot of straight people who are having a good time.”

Sociology senior Erin Garcia said she fondly remembers attending the club with friends to dance and enjoy the Saturday night drag shows.

“Halo has just always been a really fun place that I could go to with a group of friends,” Garcia said. “It’s just very open and welcoming and I don’t ever feel judged about what I’m doing or how crazy I’m dancing. Also, the drag shows on Saturdays are always fun and entertaining to watch because they put so much time, work and money into the performances and always come out looking great.”
Harmon said Halo’s character and the charm will stay the same, but the safety precautions will be brought up to modern-day standards. Safety installations include a sprinkler system, updated electrical systems, new windows and roofing and stronger structural support. The aesthetic will be “art deco meets historic building,” Harmon said.  

Halo is projected to open later this fall, or in early winter, and Harmon welcomes patrons from all walks of life.

“Overall, Halo was always meant to be a gay bar from day one, but anyone is welcome there,” Harmon said. “I don’t care what color you are, what religion you are, what you look like, what your sexual orientation is — none of that matters. Halo is a place that welcomes everybody and we are a dance club, and we don’t have to consider ourselves a ‘gay’ dance club or male dance club or a female dance club. We’re a dance club. And overall, even prior to Halo burning, Halo was the Rolls Royce of nightclubs in Bryan-College Station.”
 

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