Philadelphia Welcomes its Newest Gay Nightclub

G Philly goes behind the scenes of iCandy for the first sneak peek

“Everything will be pleasing to the eye,” says Darryl DePiano, the owner of iCandy, Philly’s newest gay nightclub at 254 S. 12th St. Doors open to iCandy with a special VIP bash on March 19. DePiano, whose Bamboo Bar in Seaside Heights has been featured on MTV’s hit series Jersey Shore, has been spending a lot of time in the Philly area since he bought the former 12th Air Command.

G Philly had the opportunity to check out the space this week (iCandy may sound like a new Apple product for tweens, but it’s anything but) as DePiano and his crew put the finishing touches on the new nightclub. Anyone who remembers 12th Air – which closed its doors last fall – or even Equus or Hepburn’s – will not recognize the place.

DePiano describes iCandy as being essentially four clubs in one. Customers walk into a Tuscan-style sports bar that has been opened up to a second bar and game room with video machines and pool tables. Food will be served on the first floor – mostly pub grub – and folks will have the chance to catch the big game on eight plasma televisions – including a 48-inch screen in the game room.

The “Tuscan Tavern,” as he calls it, features a glass tile bar with fireplace and plenty of earth tones. DePiano says phase two of the construction will open up the front of the building with glass, open-air doors and outdoor seating in season (this is expected to happen in April). And while the space – which will enjoy natural light for the first time in its history – may feel more coffee shop at first than nightclub (thanks to the mocha decor), the vibe shifts upstairs.

The old dance floor has been converted into a nightclub called Cobalt with neon blue lights and a large bar. The new design also incorporates small stages and stripper poles – yes, stripper poles – onto the dance area (DePiano, who’s openly gay himself, has owned adult clubs from North Jersey to South Philly). He says the nightclub will enjoy live entertainment as well as guest DJs – many from New York City.

The next level (third floor) features the Lava Lounge, a low-key bar scene with a “chill-out vibe,” says DePiano. He hopes the lounge – like all of iCandy – will attract a mixed crowd of gay, lesbian and straight clientele. “We have a lesbian on staff,” he says. Though rumor has it guys who auditioned as bartenders and waiters had to strip down to their skivvies to pass the test (shirtless servers, anyone?).

The Lava will also open up to an outdoor deck (a jewel in the Gayborhood come summer), which the new owner is turning into the “Baja Deck,” a tiki bar meets Caribbean cabana that will open by April 15 in time for spring flings. Frozen drinks and BBQ-style food – like kabobs – will round out the outdoor menu.

iCandy will also have VIP sections and bottle service. And while this upscale trend really hasn’t succeeded in Philly (remember Denim?), DePiano has high hopes. “Everyone wants to feel important,” he says, whether they’re having beers during the game in the tavern or buying shots for the local “eye candy.”

The new gay nightclub has six bars in total throughout the new space. And the first glimpse the Gayborhood will get of these extensive changes inside will actually be outside next week when a lighting system is installed on the building’s facade. DePiano says the 12th Street club will literally change color. He got the idea – and the technician – from Club Risque on Columbus Boulevard.

“You can be standing at the corner at Knock and see the building light up,” he says. “There’ll be no doubt the place is new – and gay.”

Check back for photos of iCandy after the official grand opening.