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Sun sets on HiLo Club…

7:36 AM EDT on March 28, 2022

This past weekend, the HiLo Club – a long-time home for the OKC LGBTQ community, the creative class, and all the metro's other misfits, weirdos, punks, and emos who were stuck living in this town during their 20s and 30s – poured its last drink from inside its cozy confines of the Donnay Building.

According to TLO Correspondent on the scene Randy "Mile High" Mitchell, Saturday night was beyond standing room only at the bar, as apparently everyone in the OKC who's either dropped out of McGuinness and/or fell in love at the Hi-Lo in the 1980s stopped by for one last pour:

I think every North Metro resident with a drinking problem who has a favorite Drag Queen, poet, or Flaming Lips song probably has a good story or two about the Hi-Lo. I actually remember going there for the first time in the fall of 99 and running into a girl from one of my creative writing classes at UCO and... well... never mind. I'll let one of the old co-screamers from Red City Radio share his thoughts about the place instead:

If you remember correctly, the HiLo was already living on a transplanted liver.

Back in 2017, the Oklahoma City counter-culture revolted when the Donnay Building was going to be razed for a new Braum's. This led the local fast-food giant to abandon their plans faster than it takes to go through one of their drive-thrus, and they sold it to local businessman Josh Thomas. He sat on the property for a few years and last month flipped it to a pair of experienced developers who claim they're going to try to renovate the building.

Via The Oklahoman:

While the announcement of new ownership for the Donnay Building is good news for local preservationists, longtime business occupants the HiLo Club and Made in Stone custom jewelry store will need to vacate the property by April...

Relocation of the HiLo Club, meanwhile, is something that Preftakes said is unavoidable if the building is to be saved. The club opened in 1956 as a private live music bar and then emerged as one of the city's leading LGBT bars in the 1980s.

Chris Simon, owner of the HiLo Club, had essentially taken over management duties in recent years, collecting rent on behalf of the previous owner and assisting where he could with building upkeep.

“(Preftakes) wants to, from what I understand, keep as much of the building as possible, but what he wants to do with it is what I’m going to try to get some answers on myself,” Simon said.

Both Simon and Preftakes said they are uncertain whether HiLo will ever return to the Donnay Building.

There's not a lot of outrage about the Donnay Building's future this time around. This is probably because...

A) There's not a guy like Ed Shadid around to grab the megaphone and lead the charge.

B) The new developers aren't dumb enough to say they're going to tear down the building and replace it with a new Braum's.

According to Lackmeyer, the new guys are planning to spend $3-million to Paseo'fy the Donnay Building – something it really does need to remain a viable piece of real estate. The property has been heavily used and very neglected for decades, is out-of-date on most codes, and needs a ton of TLC. In fact, it needs so much work that I wonder if the plans to redevelop the Donnay building are nothing more than a PR-driven ruse, and the real intention is to demo the building once it's empty and less people care.

I guess we'll monitor that situation as it develops.

We'll also wait and see if the HiLo reopens somewhere else.

If the club owners go that route, the biggest challenge they'll have is finding a building crummy enough to be a suitable home for the HiLo. You know, the type of space that would work in a music video:

Honestly, I can't imagine the HiLo Club anywhere else but the Donnay Building. Part of the venue's charm was its age, character, and knowing that thousands and thousands of people from all different ages, races, creeds, and gender identities have either performed or received oral sex in the bathroom. If they move to a new building, that legacy will be lost. The place will feel more sterile than the new add-on at Edna's.

Stay with The Lost Ogle. We'll keep you advised.

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