The Arizona Republic
Anderson's Fifth Estate becomes a gay club
Tom Anderson cites fear of violence, protests; promoter hunts for new venue.
Laura Gold and Megan Finnerty
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 29, 2007 12:00 AM

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After 25 years in downtown Scottsdale, the rock and goth club Anderson's Fifth Estate has become a gay nightclub.

"Times change," said Tom Anderson, owner of the 5,500-square-foot club, "and it's time to change."

Forbidden opened Friday, taking Anderson's Fifth Estate's long-lived location at 6820 E. Fifth Avenue.

The change is significant because it comes after a yearlong feud between Anderson and a
transgender woman. Anderson resolved the dispute in November by setting up a single-stall restroom available to all patrons.

Anderson had asked Michele de LaFreniere to leave his club in 2006 after women complained about men in dresses standing up to use toilets in the women's restroom.

De LaFreniere filed a claim of discrimination with the Arizona attorney general after the incident.

The new club is a great way for Anderson to move forward in a positive light after an intense and stressful year, said Sam Holdren of Equality Arizona, a group that helped mediate the agreement between de LaFreniere and Anderson. He also added that it was "ironic" but wonderful, and that he thinks the community will support the new club.

Anderson said he saw a need for this type of dance club in Scottsdale from his experience with the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. It now brings the number of gay clubs in the bustling nightlife district to two, joining the nearby BS West.

"It will be good for the community to have another gay bar in Scottsdale," said BS West owner Heather Dowd.

She wishes the new club luck, though, and said it's good to have some healthy competition.

Forbidden - which has two rooms with a dance floor in each, as well as a stage and elevated lounge area - has had a "face lift" with new couches, booths and fresh paint giving it a clean look, Anderson said, adding that the wine and martini lists have been extended as well.

In recent years, as Scottsdale nightclubs became swanky ultra lounges, and dance clubs brought in Las Vegas-like effects, Anderson's remained consistent and failed to generate much buzz beyond the discrimination complaint.

Anderson acknowledged that attendance has not been as high recently as in the past and said that he hopes this new club will reverse that trend.

Anderson's has recently been the home of the on-again-off-again monthly new-wave party Panic! and was the broadcasting hotspot for Mix 96.9 Saturday Night Live '80s and Beyond Retro Dance Party.

Now, Forbidden has joined with Energy 92.7 and 101.1 for the club's New Year's Eve party, which will be hosted by the radio station's Pistol Pete.

The club is open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. It opens at 8p.m. The club will also open Fridays from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. for happy hour with drink specials and appetizers.