For 30 years, Backstreet Atlanta was the city's best-known all-hours nightclub. More than a gay disco, it was a landmark of Atlanta's sanctified underbelly and a queer haven where the performing drag queens of Charlie Brown's Cabaret reveled in giving straight patrons a reason to blush. Even before the city began its nightlife crackdown near the turn of the millennium, Backstreet served as an after-hours respite for late-night lurkers and off-the-clock bar workers after regular clubs stopped the music. But in 2004, the danceteria that never shut its doors did just that when sibling owners Vicki and Henry Vara ended their hard-fought legal battle against encroaching city legislators, stiffer liquor licensing laws, and a gentrifying Midtown constituency. Though the club at 845 Peachtree St. has been closed for eight years, Backstreet lives on as a symbolic reminder of the once-vibrant nightlife scene and celebrated subculture Atlanta lost in its rush to normalcy.
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