Barracuda Lounge, or simply Barracuda, is a gay bar in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City. Opened in 1995, the bar is known for its nightly drag shows. It is a sister establishment to Industry, a nightclub, and Elmo, a restaurant. Barracuda is home to "Star Search", the longest-running bar show in New York City, which began in the early 1990s and may have served as an inspiration for RuPaul's Drag Race. In the 1990s and 2000s, Barracuda was a popular celebrity hangout, and it was frequently the site of promotional events for new music and Broadway plays. While closed for much of 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the venue underwent a major renovation. It reopened in June 2021. Critics generally praise Barracuda for its intimate, relaxed and entertainment-focused atmosphere, which was unusual at the time of its creation, and some credit this with revolutionizing the concept of gay bars.
Barracuda opened in Chelsea in October 1995. Its owner, Bob Pontarelli, founded the bar with his business partner, Stephen Heighton, who died in 2011. The pair were fans of drag and wanted to showcase that art form at the new establishment. In an interview with The Advocate, several of Barracuda's earliest performers said that it was "the first performance- and drag-based bar in Chelsea" and one of the first venues in New York to offer one-woman shows to drag queens. It was also among the first to feature a drag show every night.
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