No, Petra’s bar is not just for the LGBT crowd

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I’ve never been to Petra’s in Plaza Midwood. I only knew of it as being considered one of Charlotte’s best gay and lesbian bars. Since I date men, I figured I wouldn’t fit in, that it wouldn’t make sense for me to be there.

What a silly assumption.

Sure, when Jerry Brown, Connie and her partner Petra (last names unknown) opened Petra’s about seven years ago, the piano bar and cabaret concept was focused on drawing in a gay and lesbian crowd, creating a safe space for their night life. Sure, trivia on the second Tuesday of each month is hosted by drag queen Lana Cane.

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But over the past year or so, current owners Brown, Dean Freeman, Curtis Tutt, Perry Fowler and Marta Suarez del Real have been switching things up a bit.

When Fowler started working at the door two years ago, he said the owners “wanted me to help transition the bar into a more neighborhood friendly bar and still keep it attractive to an LGBT crowd.”

Since he’s a musician, he has been able to attract a list of bands to the venue to perform.

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“Everyone enjoys music,” Fowler said. “It doesn’t have to be centered towards black, white, Asian, gay, straight. I try to bring in what would appeal to a broader audience.”

But he still wants people to be respectful of drag trivia and of the LGBT patrons the bar has always valued. “Even though we want to broaden the audience we don’t want to leave anyone behind,” he said.

In addition to drag trivia, a recurring event called Genderfusion keeps the LGBT vibe alive by raising funds for Transcend Charlotte, an organization that supports transgender individuals and others affected by societal oppression.

But Fowler and the other owners have shaken up the event schedule. This month shows a smattering of performances and happenings meant to connect to any crowd:

– Feb. 11: Jason Moss and Djako are performing country music.

– Feb. 12: Singers and groups like David Z. Cox and She Returns from War are sharing soulful music and folk Americana, respectively.

– Feb. 14: John Shaughnessy is leading a Second Sunday Jazz Workshop and Improv session.

– Feb 16: Crowned Sparrow is presenting a Crafty Hour crafting class.

The result?

“There are more and more people that I see coming in that I didn’t see before when I was working the door,” Fowler said.

I plan to be one of those people.

Photos: Petra’s

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