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Come together: LGBTQIA Community Center to open at the former Aux Dog Theatre space

The LGBTQIA Community Center will have retail space as well as offer classes to the community on various subjects. (Courtesy of Renato Estacio-Burdick)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — At times, Renato Estacio-Burdick isn’t aware of the opportunities for community that he creates.

As the co-owner of Sidewinders Bar and Grill, the community came together through various events – many of them fundraisers.

When the pandemic hit, Estacio-Burdick and his partner were making a move to a new space for Sidewinders.

But there was something missing.

With the Aux Dog Theatre in Nob Hill, at 3011 Monte Vista NE, packing up from its space this spring, it became clear.

“We had an opportunity to use a space that would encompass retail and educational needs,” he says. “We put it out to the community and basically anyone who was attached to the Sidewinders page gave suggestions.”

The realized space will be the LGBTQIA Community Center. The initials refer to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, and asexual or allied.

“We’re about two months out from opening for retail,” he says. “Classes will be planned for an April start.”

Estacio-Burdick says it will be a center where people in the community can come together and connect with others.

It will have resources from finance to personal well being.

“People have shown interest in teaching yoga there,” he says. “There’s a whole arts culture that we want to build. It’s really a space for culture and art.”

The former Aux Dog Theatre space in Nob Hill is being transformed into the LGBTQIA Community Center.

Sidewinders moved to 4200 Central NE months. The current space could no longer house a larger cabaret portion.

With COVID precautions in place, there’s no way social distancing would happen, he says.

“With the new location, it will be a dry location,” he says. “It will be a sober space for all ages.”

Estacio-Burdick says after several discussions with members of the community, there was a resounding yes from several organizations, members, and the current board.

“We have a small board of five that are arts producers in the cabaret, as well as around town, and the remainder of the board will be voted in once the 501c3 is officially established,” he says. ” We applied for the 501c3 in mid-October, and worked out an ‘opening-of-the-center’ as part of the budget. We held off on any fundraising to allow the ABQ Social Club to raise funds so they can pay back taxes.”

A Facebook page has been set up called @commlive, where updates will be given to the public.

“We started in early September and it’s a way to get the community involved and feel like it’s their space,” he says. “We’re busy building our opening team for when January comes.”

The timeline for opening retail is January to March, which will include arts, crafts, gently-used clothing, retail food (sandwiches, coffee, donuts – pending local food partners, which is being spearheaded by board members).

The third phase plans for the practice testing, workshops, dance and rehearsals.

It includes:

• Dance studio opens (max 5 students at a time until permitted).

• College prep and mentoring.

• Practice testing (for those who need test-taking skills or practice).

• Interviewing practice for people seeking work.

• Basic life skills workshops (budgeting for the home, healthy meal prep).

• Public speaking and networking skills.

• Play rehearsals commence.

• Additional education workshops (instructors for math, music, health/wellness).

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