Bar profile: Circus

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Even if you've hung out at High Five in the last several months, you may not have noticed that there's something different about it: It's not there anymore. The Short North live music venue now known as Circus may share a doppelganger-like resemblance with the previous tenant, but it boasts a number of dazzling new tricks.

"Our goal was that people would walk in and recognize the place, but not recognize the place, if that makes sense," said co-owner Ron "Red" Ringle.

High Five closed and immediately reopened as Circus last November. New owners Skully Webb (co-owner of Skully's Music Diner), Michael Irwin (former Ravari Room manager) and Ringle (former Club 185 manager) put their years of experience to work and slowly reshaped the bar as it remained open for business.

The familiar red and black walls now host colorful banners advertising freak show acts like the two-faced girl and voodoo torture. "The posters were part of why we went with the name," Irwin said.

Helping open up the space, the booths in front of the bar's floor-to-ceiling windows were relocated and the old DJ booth area was axed to make way for a completely overhauled sound system.

"The punk rockers are definitely welcome here, but we're going to expand the music scene beyond just that," Irwin said, responding to blog rumors that Circus was chasing off the old punk scene.

The bar's clientele varies widely depending on the nightly entertainment. Circus carries on cult-classic events like punk-rock karaoke on Mondays and gothed-out dance parties most Saturdays.

On Gallery Hop nights the bar hosts the always-bustling Dig Dance Party, where they stretch a giant white screen around the bar to project videos.

Circus remains a hot spot to see rising local and national bands. Upcoming shows range from psych-rockers Stardeath and White Dwarfs (fronted by Dennis Coyne, nephew of the Flaming Lips lead singer) to the soulful sounds of Wiley and The Checkmates.

Giving patrons a bit more variety, Circus expanded the bar's taps and now reps homegrown offerings like Elevator Dark Horse Lager, Columbus Brewing Co. IPA and Great Lakes Conway's Irish Ale ($5) along with the popular PBR pints ($2) and tall-boy cans ($3.50). The new owners also plan to roll out a food menu soon.


1227 N. High St., Short North




6 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Monday-Saturday

Happy hour

6-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday: $1 select drafts, $2 well drinks, roughly half off everything else