After opening BUDDY’s in Montrose several years ago, local bar owner Christopher Barry is bringing an additional hot spot to Houston’s gayborhood with KIKI, an ultramodern club that features giant TV screens, a dance floor, VIP sections, and spacious outdoor seating.
For Barry, a native of Beaumont, creating safe spaces for those in the LGBTQ community has become a passion of his over the last few years, and KIKI felt like the perfect way to continue that momentum.
“I named the club KIKI to celebrate our LGBTQ+ ancestors who hosted house parties before gay rights or gay bars existed,” he explains. “They laid the groundwork that made it possible for today’s gay bars to even exist. What better way to recognize their efforts than to name something in their honor?”
The club, located next door to BUDDY’S at 2409 Grant Street, features immersive audio, dazzling lights, an upscale liquor selection, comfortable indoor lounge sections, a patio, and a back bar designed for speedy service.
Getting into the bar scene was quite a career shift for Barry, who has been selling medical-implant devices for 12 years. But he notes that his former career was a way of helping people, and working in the club scene is no different. Opening BUDDY’S, and now KIKI, is his way of making sure everyone has places of their own to relax, kick back, and have fun.
“If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that it sucks to be alone,” he says. “People go out for personal connection and to experience the adventures of life. I got into nightlife because I saw the gay bars failing. I wasn’t sure if gay communities were losing their safe spaces because of a cultural shift [to online dating and delivery service] or because of mismanagement. After working in the nightlife industry, I realized it was a little bit of both. So my goal was to remove the pain points people were experiencing in gay bars, and get involved in actively working with and for the LGBTQ+ community.”
Like BUDDY’S, Barry plans to make KIKI a pillar of the Montrose LGBTQ community by offering the new space for community events. Hosting events such as the Gaymers Charity Drag Show March 10 and Cornhole League Stars on April 19, KIKI is hosting several LGBTQ community events over the next few months.
“KIKI is already off to a great start as a community player,” he notes. “Over 600 people voted at KIKI in the last election cycle after KIKI followed in the footsteps of BUDDY’S next door. BUDDY’S and KIKI are connected by a hallway.”
Barry wants to make sure that KIKI becomes a well-known polling center in order to encourage the gay community to play a more active role in politics. Barry suspects that BUDDY’S was the first LGBTQ bar in the world to serve as a polling place for a presidential election.
Since opening these two businesses in the gayborhood, Barry hopes that Montrose can evolve with the times and remain a safe haven for the LGBTQ community.
“I hope the gay nightlife here in Houston can stay fun and energetic, offering up experiences for everyone to enjoy,” he says. “Montrose is great because there’s such a synergy between all the clubs and bars around here. I believe gay bars can still be safe spaces for the community to go out and make connections, feel safe, and express themselves as they truly are. I got into the nightclub scene because I wanted people to have a good time and hang out with friends, and KIKI offers an atmosphere of excitement and inclusiveness with elevated flamboyance.”
For KIKI events and hours, visit KIKI Houston at tinyurl.com/tedwh8dw.