Sunday, May 5, 2013

Exhale Bar & Grill

Exhale Bar & Grill (photographer: Andrew Collins)
Exhale Bar & Grill

Location: 6132 4th Street, Northwest, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

Opened: 2004

Closed: 2012

This listing for Exhale is pretty straightforward, though there isn't a lot of descriptive detail:

Exhale, Albuquerque's Only woman-owned lesbian Bar
6132 4th Street Northwest, South of Osuna on the east side of the street  342-0049.
Exhale is closed on Monday's. It is open Tuesday and Wednesday 4PM to midnight, Thursday through Saturday 4PM to 1:30AM and Sunday 4PM to midnight with food service 4PM to 10PM. This is the original Renea's location on 4th Street across from Smith's.

According to the Advocate

Exhale (formerly Renea’s) is the only lesbian bar between Dallas and Phoenix.

Andrew Collins at tells us more:

Exhale interior
Gay bars in Albuquerque have come and gone in recent years, but Exhale (6132 4th St. NW, 505-342-0049) - an attractive, two-level bar and dance club north of downtown in the city's Los Ranchos neighborhood - has remained steadily popular since it opened in 2004, in a space previously occupied by a gay bar. Although it's Albuquerque's top hangout among lesbians, Exhale welcomes everybody and frequently draws a mixed crowd. The club also has a light food menu (burgers, Frito pies, burritos, etc.), and has popular karaoke nights a couple of times per week.

Acccording to, Exhale was an award-winning place back in her day:

Best of Burque 2009 (Best Lesbian Bar): Exhale has live entertainment, a smokin' dance floor, naughty drinks and jalapeƱo poppers. Outside of a planet with pink clouds and rivers of chocolate, populated solely by lovely lesbian ladies, what more could a girl ask for?

Lots of customer feedback at GayCities--23 reviews in all. Far too many to quote in full. So here are a few excerpts:

From some of the loyal fans:


Exhale is pleasant enough because it doesn't try to be all things to everyone-- it's a lesbian bar with friends welcome. The decor may be a tad closer to cheesy than glamorous but Goddess bless them for trying. The crowd is lesbians of all varieties, their blue-balled straight male coworkers, and insipid Twinkie boys. The managers make a genuine effort to include entertainment, nightly themes, and welcoming staff.

Then there were the usual snobs:

'Albuquerque's Stylish lesbian dance club' is far from Stylish. Setting stylish and classy standards is something you won't find there. The Dance floor is small, the drinks are average. Once you can get a cocktail servers to wait on you, or you choose to stand in a long line at the bar pushing your way to the counter because the bartender is randomly taking orders from any one who catches their attention first; having little regard for customer service, time or satisfaction.

Describing this club as glamorous is ridiculous. Exhale has no real interior design, needs a new back

deck, the bar is too small and is certainly not stylish or sophisticated in any sense of that word, and the whole place smells like mold. The food is horrible, like a high school cafeteria menu, and the DJs seem to enjoy crappy, outdated music. I hope someone is planning to open a REAL upscale, not necessarily pricey, lesbian club, that caters to women who enjoy good food, good conversation and attractive, tasteful design.

Waste of $
If you like out of shape women in dirty wife beaters

Of course we always have the Embittered Boys contingent, who just didn't feel their egos were being coddled in a sufficient fashion: 

The men there were friendly and Ladies not so much but hey its a lesbian bar. I also like the fact knowing that my bartender is 100% gay and 98% of the people in the bar are 100% gay. If you want to see a cute straight bartender behind the bar then go to a straight bar and please take your fag hags with you.

NOt for guys
this is a lesbian bar and guys are not really made to feel welcome. It's just that simple!
Which is ironic given the complaints (starting in 2009) that the men were taking over the the place, and that Exhale wasn't even going through the motions of being a lesbian bar anymore:
I think this could be a good place........
I just don't think it is a Lesbian bar. The two times I have been there, it was young guys. The only Lesbians in the club were the staff, and I wouldn't call them friendly, even to me. I guess I might try it again.

Hoodrat ville
It used to be a nice place to go, but since ABQ lost all the other gay club except sidewinders, it really has become a haven for trouble makers and gay men, the music is horrible, the dancers are sub par and kinda scary, I know they can do better. For the more sophisticated lesbian, try the FireWomyn party's instead.

And then she was gone:

No longer a lesbian bar, now a multi-use rental venue
Some time during the summer of 2012 Exhale mutated into Evolution, a multi-use venue for anyone who could pay the rental fee, gay or otherwise. The space has potential which the owners never exploited when it was a gay bar. Evolution is as poorly promoted as Exhale was so many events I would have attended came and went unnoticed. At least it's easy to get to and has a reasonable amount of parking available so it's worth a visit to see what the venue has grown up to be.
According to a writer at Autostraddle, Exhale was gone even earlier than summer 2012, as it was reportedly closed when the column was published in March of that year. 

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