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The very web you are surfing is in part to blame for the demise of the gay
nightclub ... often referred to as "institutions" by the people who
frequented them, called them home and met many a current (or former) lover
or friend. No one can deny the end. But many disagree about the
how and why. Veteran bartender Bob Bartels in Minneapolis blames the
rise of Internet dating (and hook-up) sites, the likes of Gay.com or
Manhunt. There are countless others. I agree with Bob. And
there's continuous reductions of the blood-alcohol content, now .08 in most
states (once twice that number). No one can argue safer laws regarding
drunk drivers isn't needed - now let's work on the Text-capacitated drivers.
Of course there's the mainstreaming of gay society. We can marry in 14 states, legally, as of the last count. I mean, who needs a gay bar if we can be gay wherever we want to be? Well, we can't. Trust me, what happened once upon a time at the likes of these and dozens of other now defunct clubs would never be welcome at your local Applebee's or "straight" club. And let's face it - it's tough enough meeting someone without having to wonder which team they play for.
What about urban development? Once cool warehouses turned trendy lofts no longer serve a happy mix of resident and thumping nightclub business (and kiss those disclosure statements good-bye).
We need gay owned and operated bars* today for many of the reasons we needed them a decade (or three) ago. Gay people of all walks of life still need a place to call their own - to come out, to grind on the dance floor without worry of who's watching and waiting. To be themselves ... the same way we need Irish pubs, and Mexican pubs, and every other mix of people. But this isn't a page for debate. It's a place to help preserve the memories of many a bygone gay bar. Countless owners, managers and staff put in a good share of their lifetime keeping these classics afloat until the dropping revenue could no longer pay the rising rent, insurance and upkeep. Ask anyone and they will ask the same question - just what happened to all these people, not just the owners, but the patrons?
I speak of personal experience too. A resident in the Twin Cities for over a decade combined (I lived here twice), I have watched the end come many times, especially in St Paul. From nearly a half dozen business clubs in both cities where we could shake it on the dance floor - we're down to 1 that consistently has people in on a Saturday night (The Saloon). Owners John & Andy remain at the helm more than 35 years since they started. It's only a matter of time.
More to come, but for now, take a trip back in time at some of the ads that graced the pages of Au Courant, PGN and Lavender Magazines from the late 1980's to mid 2000's.
*Not every bar listed on this site were necessarily gay owned and operated. Where a known fact, I have probably indicated such on the bars page.
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