Rumors Cabaret is known for putting on events and being Bellingham’s alternative night club, but the bar also offers a variety of live music and aims to be a hot spot for featuring new, local bands.
The club was formerly owned by Eric Heimbigner, who passed away in December of 2009. “He’s the one who really put this place together,” said Wayne Miller, the current owner. “He bought the place in 1984 and worked here until be passed.”
Marcus Schmick, assistant general manager and music booker, holds Heimbigner to the highest regards as a role model and teacher. “He worked here for over half his life,” added Schmick. “I learned a lot from him.”
Schmick began working at Rumors in 2003. “Eric and I worked well together, so he made me his assistant and we pretty much cleaned house,” he said. “He and I also worked together on figuring out where we wanted the electronic scene to go as far as booking them here,” Schmick said.
Schmick added that Heimbigner was greatly influenced by Paradise Garage, a New York City club that in the late 70s and early 80s that played a major part in establishing club culture for the LGBT community.
The venue currently puts on a dubstep night on the first Sunday night of each month. Their other music booker, Reina Boersma, started working at Rumors as soon as she turned 21 and has been helping to organize Band Fight Night since 2006. She had some experience with booking before working at Rumors but she really started when helping out with Bellingham Pride. “I was working with Bellingham Pride and I realized they didn’t have entertainment events,” said Boersma. “I just called up Sugar Sugar Sugar and they were kind enough to play a show for us.”
The live music at Rumors tends to be divided between Schmick and Boersma by genre. Schmick arranges electronic music and Boersma works with bands. “When I look for bands to book I tend to look for responsible bands who are likely to promote their show,” she explained. “But I try to mix things up, I’ll put a newer band in a line-up with a couple bands we’ve had here before.”
Schmick pointed out that DJ Postal and DJ Shortwave have been key players for Rumors for a long time. “Also, DJ QBNZA has been around since 1994,” Schmick said. “I have a document from 1998 that has DJ Postal on it. For some reason when people start playing here they stick around for a while.”
He also explained how their live shows have changed over the years. “We used to have a live jam session called ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ where any musician could perform onstage,” he remembered. “That was awesome but it got tricky, people stopped coming, and it was on a Tuesday night so it was quiet sometimes.”
Lately, Rumors has hosted DJs, local bands, and karaoke nights but Schmick explained that they are primarily a bar with hopes of giving younger, newer bands a shot. “We really want to make this place a launch-pad for new bands,” said Schmick. “At least, that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Rumors will continue with their business as usual, offering live recordings of their shows courtesy of StormCloud, a recording company that is run by Mike Cloud who does sound engineering at venues across town. Be sure to stop-by on Saturday, July 15 for Bellingham Gay Pride, which will feature kinky contests, exotic acts, and a lower cover-charges for costumes.