NOLA’s Rock Bar pops off for Pride Month


Photo courtesy of Pamela Cannon-Wakefield

NOLA’s, a local rock bar in downtown Urbana, will be holding a pre-party to kick off pride month on Sunday. Uniting Pride will be partnering with NOLA’s for event in creating a safe space for those in the LGBTQ+ community.

By Kylie Corral, Summer Managing Editor For Reporting

Uniting Pride, the sole LGBTQ+ resource center for people in C-U, has collaborated with NOLA’s, a local rock bar that schedules events for the community, for P.O.P., a Pride Official Pre-Party for pride month celebrations.

Pamela Wakefield is the general manager for NOLA’s Rock Bar and is in charge of booking shows, running the bar and designing the menu. She said NOLA’s is a New Orleans and Cajun-themed bar.

Wakefield said NOLA’s has events six nights a week, including but not limited to Latin Dance on Wednesdays, Jazz Hour on Fridays and Bar Olympics on Tuesdays. Much like how NOLA’s is packed with events all week, the pride pre-party will be full of exciting things.

“Oh my goodness, tons and tons and tons of fun,” Wakefield said. “We have several different trade-related shows going on that day. So at 6 p.m. on Sunday, we have our youth show, and then at 7 p.m., we have a What’s up Cis show. At 9 p.m., we have a King show, and then at 11 p.m., we have our Queen show.”

She said as a proud ally of the LGBTQ+ community, she is looking forward to the Queens show since she’s a fan of many of the Queens performing at the pre-party.

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“My favorite aspect of the event is just providing a safe space for everyone to feel that they can come in and know that they’ll be accepted no matter what gender orientation, anything that they are, here at NOLA’s, we accept everyone,” she said.

Wakefield advised patrons to come early because NOLA’s ran out of seats quickly last year.

“There’s so many events and so many great performers coming this weekend,” she said. “It’s gonna be a show you definitely don’t want to miss.”

Nicole Frydman, the director of operations at Uniting Pride, said she is really excited about the pride pre-party. Uniting Pride is a nonprofit organization that works to make the C-U community a more affirming and safe place for the members of the LGBTQ+ community, 

Frydman said C-U doesn’t have any dedicated LGBTQ+ bars located for the community but instead a few local businesses have become venues and safe spaces for everyone.

“What’s happened instead is that a few businesses in the community have opened up to us in some lovely ways,” she said.

NOLA’s is one of the businesses that reached out to Uniting Pride. Frydman said that because the venue has drag programming every first Sunday of the month, it wanted to host a Pride Month Party, which Frydman said thrilled the staff at Uniting Pride.

“As far as what we’re bringing to the table,” she said, “we’re going to bring some coloring pages for the kiddos, and we have got a special unicorn, Rainbow Unicorn, that’s going to be there, too.”

Frydman said there will be pride flags, stickers, shirts and all kinds of good things up for grabs at the event. She added that the pride pre-party that was thrown last summer was a success, but this event will be the largest yet, with its running time being longer.

She said it’s important that businesses and organizations want to help create safe spaces for the LGBTQ+ community.

“The reality is that we still need spaces,” Frydman said, “LGBTQ+ folks still need spaces where we know we are safe together, we know we are welcomed and affirmed, that folks who are not members of the LGBTQ+ community who join us there are truly our allies, and are there to keep space safe for us.”

She said she is excited for this to be the first pride event of the month where the C-U community can gather together to celebrate.

“It makes a significant impact on the mental health of the LGBTQ+ community,” she said. “Knowing that we can be even a small part of creating that for folks is massively rewarding and is a huge part of the work that we do.”

Frydman said the event is free for people to attend but to bring tips for the performers who are putting in a lot of hard work, time and energy to make the event a great one.

“Come on down for free, but make sure that you show the performers the love they deserve,” she said.


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