Then, after a lengthy battle with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, Club XS closed in August 2012.
After that, some people in the local LGBT community drove to clubs in Harrisburg or Baltimore, Travis McCarty said. It's not that other bars were unwelcoming, but some people prefer a night out where they know it was OK to be out, he added.
In early September 2012, McCarty, who used to bartend at Club XS, got a call from Steve Perko Jr., who owns Lux Night Lounge in North York. He invited McCarty to host a gay night at Lux as a trial.
"He really liked the people it was bringing to his establishment," McCarty said. "The atmosphere had a level of friendliness, class and dignity."
Later that month, Lux started to host weekly gay nights, which grew a following. So, a few weeks ago, Perko decided that every night at Lux will be gay night.
The revamped venue will debut July 25 - right before the Pride Festival of Central Pennsylvania in Harrisburg.
McCarty, who will take over as head bartender and head of public relations for Lux, said the date is no coincidence. Usually bars and clubs wait until fall to redo entertainment and branding, since summer business can be slow. But the July 27 festival will draw people in the LGBT community to the area. He said the Thursday launch was designed to draw a lighter crowd, but build to a packed house by Saturday.
The timing, he said, will allow the club time to perfect its new setup by Labor Day, when patrons return from summer vacations.
Lux will still be open to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation.
"You want to give the vibe that it's a safe haven (for the LGBT crowd) and our allies - people who accept our lifestyle," McCarty said.
Lux will keep the upscale urban feel it set out to cultivate after its March 2011 opening. The hours will be similar, but there will be other changes, McCarty said. Minor renovations, including painting, new seating and lighting upgrades, are being completed. McCarty is in the process of revamping the bar specials.
The entertainment will see a bigger shift. Drag shows, reality TV star appearances and concerts featuring up-and-coming artist are in the works. Deejays will still spin most nights, and karaoke is slated for Sundays.
The goal, McCarty said, is to bring something fresh to the entertainment scene.
"We don't want this to be the new Club XS," he said. "If you've never experienced Lux, you're welcome - no matter where you are or what you come from."
About Pride Festival of Central Pennsylvania
The event is slated for July 27 in Riverfront Park, Front Street, Harrisburg. It will feature live entertainment, speaker, vendors and a family zone. Entertainment is scheduled from noon to 6 p.m.
The festival promotes awareness for and showcases organizations available to the LGBT and Straight Ally community, provides a safe environment for people to celebrate their diversity and supports economic growth by drawing people to the region.
For details, visit www.centralpapridefestival.com.
If you go
Lux Night Lounge is at 1327 N. Duke St., York. The club is 21-and-older. Its hours are 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday to Sunday. The revamped venue will be gay-friendly all nights starting July 25. DJ MadScience is slated to spin that night.
According to a news release, Lux will have three bartenders and two bottle service attendees and eight to 10 security staff on duty. Lux has an entry checkpoint where bouncers check attire along with IDs and purses.
For details, call 717-793-3770 or visit facebook.com/LUXNightLounge.
Read more about what happened at Club XS.