Keep the party going between Christmas and New Year’s with Uptown’s weekend-long 30th anniversary celebration!

It’s been an intense year for this beloved local bar, so what better way to cap it than with 3 days of nonstop party??? Happy birthday, Uptown!

Everything is free and open to all:

Friday, December 26 – 6pm to 10pm
Birthday Reunion Party
Celebrating Uptown Founder Scott Ellsworth, current and former staff, regulars and all community members. Wear an Uptown T-Shirt and pay 1984 prices!

Saturday, December 27 – 6pm
Musical Review & BBQ Feast
Featuring musicians who have called Uptown home over the years, including Mindi Hadan, Douglas Katelus and Ivy & Devon.

Sunday, December 28 – 6pm
Uptown Salon
An evening of poetry & prose by local writers, hosted by Uptown Bartender & Poet Tym Butler.

Don’t go leavin’ town!

[Photo by Ariel Dovas]

A poem for Elbo Room

Local rapper (and monthly Elbo Room DJ) Ticklefight penned this lovely ode to the ‘Bo:

Elbo Room Rap
All I wanna do is a zoom zoom
Pretty soon the ‘Bo is gonna go boooooom
Pinballs go crack when I get a game
Cheap happy hours mezzing up my brain
Walk inside, pitch black like night
Bathroom stall door missing, that ain’t right
Upstairs is a fee, pay to play
If I had my way, Elbo would stay

[link]

["Faux Elbo" photo by Emily Savage]

The Attic, gutted

Our pal Andy, who was probably the best customer the Attic ever had, snapped this heartbreaking photo and talked to one of the folks involved who told him that a new bar will be replacing the demolished dive.  As our other pal Inna notes:

I love how the Chinese lanterns are still there!

Damn, remember when the only thing threatening the Attic used to be that music-hating NIMBY neighbor?

The Uptown will live on, thanks to cool new ownership group

Capp Street Crap reports, in a post titled “I’ll drink to this: Uptown’s employees are buying the bar”:

Some good things are meant to last, even in the Mission in 2014.

After months of uncertainty following the death of owner Scott Ellsworth, Uptown’s bartenders are about to finalize a deal to buy the beloved Mission dive bar. Uptown bartender Shae Green said she, the five other bar employees and one of Ellsworth’s good friends, have just a few legal loose ends to tie up with Ellsworth’s siblings before the bar is theirs.

According to Green, Ellsworth’s sister in Colorado, Pam Stutheit, made it happen.

“She wanted to keep the bar open to honor Scott, a community center for folks,” she said.

Luckily, the soon-to-be owners are also on good terms with the landlord and are taking over the lease, which has four more years on it, with an option of renewing for an additional five years.

News of Uptown’s purchase is a bright spot in what lately has felt like a sea of disappointment.

Read on for more news and photos.

[Photo by Capp Street Crap]

Goodnight Lex

(Via Hillary)

Previously:

Maybe this is just what happens with bars

Local blogger anadromy left the following analysis in the comments section of yesterday’s post about the Lexington closing maybe because the cliquiness of the clientele made it unwelcoming to a potential new generation of customers:

I don’t think this phenomenon is limited to the Lex. It seems pretty common. A bar–straight, gay or otherwise–gets popular. People attach themselves to it and form a clique-ish attitude about who “belongs” there and who doesn’t. This attitude calcifies and over time, the people inside the bar become unwelcoming dicks. (it doesn’t help that the people who give off this attitude are the type of people who spend a lot of time in bars–ie: alcoholics) Potential new customers are scared off. Slowly but surely, the bar’s business wanes and eventually, it closes and everybody laments the passing of another longstanding institution.

Yeah, that does sound familiar.

[Vintage file photo of Pop's Bar by Man Freckles]

The faux Elbo

As conversation continues about the future of The Elbo Room, NBC built a fake version for their family drama, Parenthood, which takes place in Berkeley. Emily Savage spotted the exterior, which utilizes the font, but not the layout.

Guys, they made a fake Elbo Room in LA for the Parenthood set.

A photo posted by @tofuandwhiskey on

Back in reality, Matt Shapiro, co-owner of the club, explains their current situation on their Facebook page:

OK…the blogs are about to roll out the latest “news”…some with more hyperbole than others…
Here is what is really happening:
We are aware of the building owners plans to build condos on this property…Whether they get approval from the city and how long it will take is really anyone’s guess. The one thing that is definite is our lease goes for another year – Matt Shapiro, Elbo Room co-owner.

A different narrative regarding the Lexington Club’s impending closure

A commenter named “Devil’s Advocate” left the following analysis in the comments section of last week’s post about economic gender inequality in SF being partially responsible for the Lex’s closure:

In no way do I intend to offend anyone (which means I’m basically going to offend people, right?) but I would like to offer a different narrative than the ones I’ve been seeing online since the announcement of the Lex closing. Hopefully the tone of this is read positively and that the message isn’t about the Lex but more about the community.

Back when the Lex opened, San Francisco was a different city almost entirely. It was a place for the outcasts, queer, gay, whatever you want to label them and it was a safe place. It became a local haunt, got divey-er (is that a word?) as the years went on and more recently it’s become a place that has been failing for a few reasons.

Gentrification. If I hear this word one more time, I’m going to scream. Understandably, the neighborhood has changed. The city has changed. Times have changed and if businesses don’t evolve, they are doomed.

Yes, a lot of lesbians moved to Oakland. As a uhauling bunch, we have issue with staying put, not nesting, breaking up, trying to find roommates, and thus Oakland became a cheaper and more feasible option. However, just because seemingly ‘all’ the lesbians moved to Oakland, that doesn’t mean that ‘newer’ lesbians, perhaps slightly less ‘alternative’ but lesbian nonetheless have moved to the city – seeking out that same sense of safe place, community and acceptance as happened previously when the Lex first opened.

However, that newer group of lesbians finds the Lex completely unwelcoming. Based on my own personal experiences, trying no less than about 10x going there, trying to make it work, trying to like the place that seemed so ‘cool’ – but it was the same horrible experience every time.

What the Lex became is so far from the original purpose which is why I feel (not know) it’s now failing. The people who have been going there for years, working there, hanging out there made the place so uninhabitable for ‘new’ people or even non-locals visiting. All sitting around the bar, casing every person that walks in, chatting up their bartender friends who then didn’t serve anyone else. It seems liked you were walking into someone’s living room or a house party that you weren’t invited to. How could a business survive when it turns away the only people (besides the regular crew) that ever wanted to go and spend money there?

They needed to reinvent. Not with fancy drinks or using mason jars and endless succulent displays, but they needed to whip their staff into shape. Welcome the lesbians that haven’t found their way in the city. If they keep talking about the shrinking lesbian population, they must simply be talking about their own little clique of girls who have moved to Oakland because I still see plenty of lesbians aimlessly walking around the Castro in search of a hangout because they feel uncomfortable in the Lex.

People talk about the Lex now like you’d talk about an alcoholic who finally died. You don’t talk about the final years, you look at the Glory years. And yes, in its glory years it was vital to have a meeting place like this, where women/queers/trans all felt comfortable, but that comfort soon turned to clique and exes and everyone’s already slept with each other and it became a cesspool. Let’s also be frank, it’s dirty. It smells in there, it’s not accommodating for women to even use the disgusting restroom. Is that how you think you attract business and maintain customers?

I think it’s a good thing (hear me out) that the Lex is closing because it not only shows a sign of the times changing (NOT in a gentrification way) and now hopefully lesbians can come out of their dark hole, cliquey bullshit and actually socialize with one another in other bars/clubs, etc. There are so many lesbians in this city, not JUST the ones that all congregate around the pool table at the Lexington. We don’t all look alike. Some girls are femme, butch, etc etc etc, the labels go on for days – and now that the alcoholic has died, it’s time for this community to find new life in a new era. I have to also think that while rent was raised for this establishment, it could have easily ‘tried’ to do something a bit different to show the community it was versatile and not just stuck in its glory days, but I fear it won’t.

We deserve better than the Lex of current days. We deserve to treat each other with courtesy, respect and know that we’re all in this together. We’re all facing adversity, we’re all a minority and instead of creating tensions and clubhouses, we should be saying hi to each other and being nice or at least acknowledging each other with this gigantic chip on our shoulders.

I for one am happy to see what comes after the Lex closes and I hope that everyone can band together to support each other – even the clique crew that never welcomed us into that bar 

Also of note, this comment was followed by three more:

  1. “Thank you for writing this. The Lexington has not been a good bar for a while.”
  2. “This was excellent. Thank you.”
  3. “Great reply. Thank you.”

If you’re not aware, it’s rare for a comment on this blog to receive so much positivity.

[Photo by Lexington Club on Instagram]

The different economics of having a bar mostly for women

Yesterday it was revealed via Facebook that the Lexington Club is closing.

In a followup Q&A with 48 Hills, owner Lila Thirkield expands on her reasons for shutting down the iconic Mission bar. Here’s a doozy:

Another real issue is economic gender inequality. Why is there only one lesbian bar when there are so many gay male bars? Even if you take queerness out of it, women make less money than men and a two male household is going to have more capital potential to start a business than a two female household. How many bars or restaurants do you see being run by women? So few. And that’s just the supply side. Because women have less disposable income and consume less than men, the spending power isn’t the same when you are talking about having a bar for mostly women.

Read on for lots more.

[Photo by Lexington Club on Instagram]

The Lexington Club is closing

Owner Lila Thirkield published this letter this afternoon on Facebook:

To My Dear Community –

It is with a heavy heart, great thought and consideration that I have made the very difficult decision to sell The Lexington Club.

Eighteen years ago I opened The Lex to create a space for the dykes, queers, artists, musicians and neighborhood folks who made up the community that surrounded it. Eighteen years later, I find myself struggling to run a neighborhood dyke bar in a neighborhood that has dramatically changed. A few years back my rent was raised to market rate, and though it was difficult, we seemed to weather it at first. But as the neighborhood continued to change, we began to see sales decline, and they continued to do so. We tried new concepts, different ways of doing things, but we were struggling. When a business caters to about 5% of the population, it has tremendous impact when 1% of them leave. When 3% or 4% of them can no longer afford to live in the neighborhood, or the City, it makes the business model unsustainable.

Please know that if I thought The Lexington Club could be saved, I would not be writing this. I understand what a huge loss this is to the community. It is difficult and painful to lose our queer spaces. However, my faith in queer San Francisco still runs deep. It is the best place in the world and dykes and queers are still an integral part of this city. They always will be. I have spent the better part of my adult life facilitating and creating community among dykes and queers in SF and I will not stop. The Lexington Club had an incredible eighteen-year run. It will forever live on in my heart, as I’m sure it will for many of you. To all who were a part of it – thank you for your contribution to a great chapter in San Francisco and a great chapter in my own life. And, of course, a huge thank you to my amazing staff. We made some incredible memories, and we will make more.

Lila Thirkield (Lexington)

[link] (Thanks, Jess.)

[Photo by Lexington Club on Instagram]