Before you head down the stairs and get swept away in all the sparkle and spectacle, pause for a moment in front of a photo.
In addition to a poster depicting Bunny Bees notable background in burlesque, there’s a portrait of the blonde woman wearing a silk red dress while sitting in a leather armchair.
âThis is Snoop Dogg’s chair,â she says, casually naming the star rapper.
This kind of detail confirms what the sign next to her photo expresses. Bunny Bee is a star in itself. And opening this place – the cabaret-style restaurant and bar waiting for you at the foot of the stairs – has been her lightning dream in the sky for over a decade.
After years of wanting and months of renovation, La Burla Bee is ready to shine – though Wednesday’s storm delayed things a bit.
The new late-night hangout and entertainment venue was due to open near Nevada Avenue and Kiowa Streets in downtown Colorado Springs on Friday, but the damage from the storm has delayed it. however, the opening is not expected to be postponed for more than a few weeks.
To find La Burla Bee, open a red door next to the Oscars Oyster Bar and go down one level to be greeted by an elegant bar with stone and brick walls. The underground feel will be familiar to some of the guests who visited this place during its years as The Underground, a popular gay bar that closed in 2018.
Bee said she was looking for locations, but this one clicked to continue the building’s LGBTQIA-friendly tradition.
“When this place came into being, it meant so much because so many people have so many memories here,” she said. “And we can bring it back to life.”
As much as La Burla Bee is an ode to its owner, with toy bumblebees hidden in secret locations and an Italian menu in honor of their heritage and a nod to them in their name, she says the place has a higher calling.
Bee, along with her business partner and husband, Bee Radd, wanted to bring something new to downtown Colorado Springs.
âWe wanted to create a safe space, an inclusive space where people can come and experience what Colorado Springs has to offer,â he said.
Bunny Bee also wanted to honor burlesque performers who came before her and the art form at large. This can be seen clearly when she walks down a hallway that she describes as “the museum of La Burla Bee”. One wall is covered with photos of burlesque legends from the past and present, and another serves as a scrapbook of memories.
âThe photos on these walls are my heart,â she said.
Born in Trinidad in southern Colorado and long-time resident of Colorado Springs, she made her burlesque debut in 2009 with the local group Peaks and Pasties.
“From the moment I started, I just fell in love with it,” she said. “It’s the art of empowerment.”
Bee, also a seasoned model, delved into burlesque and became a well-known performer and leader in the industry. She is now the director of Peaks and Pasties, co-owner of the Colorado Burlesque Festival, and chairman of the Burlesque Hall of Fame, based in Las Vegas.
With these connections, you can expect top burlesque artists from all over the world to come on stage at La Burla Bee.
Or more precisely, steps.
There is a stage in the front “vaudeville room”, a bar and a dining area that will host comedians, musicians and other entertainers. At the back, after winding your way through labyrinthine corridors, you will find the larger stage for burlesque shows. Keep going and you will find The Beehive, a dance floor and performance room that opens to visitors after the shows.
“We call it a circus without the animals,” she said. “It will be an experience from the time we open to the time we close every night.”
It is an experience to just look at the details of La Burla Bee with a capacity of 280 people and a total area of ââaround 9,000 square meters.
There’s a go-go cage for dancers, a display case of glittering pies worn by artists, glittering chandeliers, and a piano that Bee has covered in glitter.
Glitter can be spotted elsewhere, sprinkled on the floor and on the sink. The shimmering stuff is a reminder that La Burla Bee is a place to party. For the namesake of the bar, it is a place to celebrate how far she has come and how far her city has come.
âThere was a time when the idea of ââopening your own cabaret wouldn’t have been well received in this city,â said Bee.
It’s almost time now.
“Something like this is badly needed in downtown Colorado Springs,” she said. “We just want to share it with everyone.”