New LGBTQ+  Bar is Coming to Ann Arbor

Outside view of a building.
Photo provided by Saharsh Hajela.

The Ann Arbor area will experience a new addition to the nightlife experience as Uplift, a new LGBTQ+  bar, will open in late summer at 210 S. First St. in the heart of the city’s downtown. 

Uplift co-founder Saharsh Hajela said the idea for the business came after taking his anonymous business partner to see several drag-shows throughout last year. 

“Many of us in Ann Arbor have felt the void that has been around for the last couple of years since Aut Bar closed,” Hajela said. “That gave way to the idea for Uplift, and as we spoke to others, it became apparent that we were not the only ones seeking a dedicated space. It was very much a community-wide need.”

Uplift is a bar that will prioritize the community aspect of a bar. Hajela said, it is “tailored towards allowing you to feel empowered.”

“Think of Uplift as a place focused on developing connections, whether that means you come with a group of friends, have a great time together, and deepen the connection you already have,” Hajela said. “You feel empowered to meet somebody new and form a new connection. All of the choices that we are making are to express ourselves and meet other people in ways that feel fun and natural but are still actively and intentionally facilitated in cyberspace.”

According to Hajela, one aspect of the new business he prioritized was its location, between popular downtown destinations like the Circ Bar and performance venue The Blind Pig. Hajela said prioritizing a downtown location emphasized their message that members of the “queer community” should coexist within the Ann Arbor community without having to make a lengthy commute. 

“There is something very powerful about walking into a space and knowing that it is your home,” Hajela said. “Uplift, as a bar, represents more than just having a good time; that is absolutely a priority for us. But, having a dedicated space that is always queer is the driving force to why Uplift is so important.”  

Regarding the business, Hajela describes Uplift as a traditional neighborhood bar where they will serve comfort food and delicious drinks (mocktails included). However, there will also be the occasional event for dancing on a Saturday night. 

“I think that the ability to be, for lack of a better term, casually queer is very important to us,” Hajela said. “You are not worried about other preconceived notions that people might put on you. Also, programming is important as well. Uplift plans to be intentional with community-driven programming. We want to make sure that we are being intentional and highlighting folks that might necessarily get forgotten in other queer spaces.”  

Following its opening, Uplift will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 5pm-2am, and on Sunday from 12pm-12am.

“You hear the term ‘gay bar’ a lot, and there are lots of places around the country that are called gay bars, but Uplift is a queer bar,” Hajela said. “There are a lot of queer women, trans folks, nonbinary folks who do not always necessarily feel welcome. Not even just in straight spaces but in other queer spaces as well. It is important for us that Uplift is a place where everybody under the queer umbrella not only feels safe but also feels prioritized.”

RELATED: Circ Bar Hosts Baked Bingo Brunch on Sundays

With Uplift scheduled to open in the coming months, Hajela encourages everyone to follow their Facebook and Instagram for more information.

“We are super excited to meet folks in the community, and many people do not know that we have an email address for folks interested in pitching ideas or collaborating with us can reach out to,” Hajela said. “Whatever your idea is, just email because we want to meet and get to know you.”

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Antonio Cooper is a freelance journalist from Detroit, Michigan. His coverage of music festivals and interviews with local celebrities appeared in The E-Current Magazine, The Detroit Metro Times, XXL Magazine, RichMagDigital, The Ann Arbor Observer, and Pop Magazine.