Despite a lifelong addiction to music, my body stiffens at the prospect of dancing in public. I can count on one hand the number of times I have been coerced onto a dance floor.
Still, I’m beginning to wonder if my future might involve a clumsy tango step. Maybe even a salsa “shine” attempt?
I blame this possibility on Brett Randall, operations manager at Ochos, a new wine and dance bar planned in Downtown Boise.
Like me, Randall possesses limited dance skills. “I’ve got a good head bob that goes down real well,” he quips.
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Yet his enthusiasm for Ochos’ future is palpable. And contagious.
So is his impatience.
“It’s just kind of been a roller coaster situation,” he explains.
For the past year and a half, Ochos has operated part-time, under the radar, in a beautiful Queen Anne-style building at 515 W. Idaho St. On Thursdays, Tango Boise club and other dance enthusiasts gather for practice and lessons. On Fridays, Carpe Danza Dance Studio hosts lessons. They’re followed by DJ dancing until midnight or later.
There’s no alcohol or food served — yet. “Dancing and drinking go hand in hand,” Randall says. With luck, Ochos will open full-time in November as a wine and dance bar. Randall, who runs the business with building owner Eileen Barber, hesitates to set a more optimistic grand opening date.
“Listen,” he says, “I was in the same position last year talking about how there’s no way we wouldn’t be open this summer.”
Ochos’ outdoor patio plans include the bar’s ADA compliance details. Those are temporarily hung up in red tape with the city of Boise.
Until then, Ochos is in limbo. But it will all be worth the wait for wine lovers and dance fans — such as Randall and Barber, respectively. He’s a former bar manager at 13th Street Pub & Grill in Boise, plus he worked in bars while living in Australia. Barber has been involved in Boise’s dance community for years.
Their roles at Ochos are split accordingly. “She does the dancing, and I do the drinking,” Randall says. “That’s pretty much the scenario.”
Ochos’ 66-capacity main level will include a wine bar with 12 taps of red, six taps of white and six taps of beer, Randall says. Finger foods will be served, as well as charcuterie and cheese boards. The 106-capacity second story is where the dance action takes place. The “sprung” wood dance floor is made of solid maple.
Non-dancers will be able to sip at the wine bar without feeling out of place. Randall envisions “meet the winemaker” and tap-takeover events featuring Idaho wineries.
But the call of the wild will beckon from above. Weekdays will include dance lessons — different styles each night — while weekends culminate in a cathartic dance explosion. “Learn throughout the week,” Randall says, “then come show off your skills on Saturday night.”
The two-in-one dynamic won’t be the only unique aspect of Ochos’ atmosphere. Constructed in 1892, the building is newly renovated. “It’s gorgeous,” Randall says. “It’s also the bane of my existence, because as soon as we’ve done construction to it, then we have to update to current codes and stuff. Because it’s such an old building.”
In the past, it’s held apartments, then law offices, then Davies-Reid Gallery. One thing it’s never offered? A bi-level back patio with a fire bar shaped like an “8.” (An “ocho” — get it?) There’s even a huge window opening to the bar area with a server station. “It will kind of create a situation like 10 Barrel has going on,” Randall says, referring to outdoor pub seating at the brewery at 826 W. Bannock St.
“I told Eileen, if this is going to work, we need to have a bitchin’ patio,” Randall says. “That’s the engine that will make this whole system work.”
Construction is still underway. So give Ochos a few more months.
“Honestly,” Randall says, “I’m trying to keep it on the DL as much as possible, because I don’t want to ruin people’s first experience with a lackluster, not-at-our-full-potential type of scenario.”
A grand opening is on the horizon. By then, wine and beer will be flowing, too. Some of us need a few drinks to even consider dancing.
“A LOT,” Randall agrees, laughing.
“We have a fantastic instructor called Natalie,” Randall confides. “I hang out with her on Friday nights now and then. She’s like, ‘You’ve got to get up there and dance!’ One of these days I will when there’s nobody up there.”