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NYC's 'Rawhide' Gay Bar to Close


Chelsea's Rawhide bar, opened in 1979, is set to shutter, according to Vanishing New York:

"The building that houses it on 8th and 21st in Chelsea was sold a couple of years ago and the new landlord has jacked up the rent, nearly doubling it from $15,000 to $27,000 a month. The Rawhide has officially been evicted. Their last day will be March 31."

Mayoral frontrunner and Council Speaker Christine Quinn said this about the Rawhide in a recent New York magazine profile:

“One of the things I loved about Chelsea,” she said, “is that on Eighth Avenue, there is the Rawhide bar—not a luxury product. And for many years there were Latino guys from the neighborhood who had a folding card table every Friday and Saturday night and played dominoes. And they knew every guy who walked into the Rawhide, and every guy that walked in the Rawhide knew them. A leather bar may or may not be the best example, but it is the type of neighborhood experience we want to be able to have, what Jane Jacobs called ‘the eyes on the streets’ all watching out for each other.”

What will Quinn do about it?

Is there room on the street for yet another bank or nail salon?

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  1. I only went there a couple of times, but I was always glad it was there. This is happening with storefronts all across manhattan.

    Posted by: kodiak | Mar 5, 2013 1:29:47 AM

  2. Rawhide was my favorite bar. It was neighborhood personified. I visited there in January from South Beach. Little did I know it would be my last. I lived in NY 20 years ago and remember the Eagle and the Spike. NY hasn't been the same since.

    Posted by: Michael Andrews | Mar 5, 2013 2:30:59 AM

  3. 2005 was the beginning of the end for Eighth Ave. in Chelsea. That was when you could witness a developer tear down a charming corner apartment building housing a successful restaurant (Eighteenth and Eighth), only to replace it with a soulless glass and steel box emitting a gaunt fluorescent glow from yet another bank. Incidentally, 2005 was also the year Big Cup closed, and Starbucks started its campaign to exist on every third street corner.

    The real insult is that landlords' doubling of the rent doesn't bring in anything better than what is forced out, in many cases. Change doesn't have to be negative, but notice how most people cringe when considering what's coming next? It's creative destruction, minus the "creative".

    And even if something interesting comes along, also notice the shorter life-spans of the newer businesses as they struggle to make ridiculously huge rent increases during a down economy.

    Change hurts when losing local flavor, but adding another retail chain/bank/nail salon/drug store really is sucking the life out of a street that has been a genuine draw for this neighborhood.

    My prediction: real estate office.

    Posted by: Rich | Mar 5, 2013 3:05:41 AM

  4. I hate the New York of today. It was THE BOMB in the 80's: Boy Bar, The Tunnel, Pyramid. So generic now AND expensive. No thanks.

    Posted by: Joe De Hoyos | Mar 5, 2013 3:28:48 AM

  5. imagine being the kind of person who defines himself by the car he owns. gross.

    Posted by: DannyEastVillage | Mar 5, 2013 5:08:48 AM

  6. First, I applaud Audiowner, that was a very funny post. A perfect parody of what is happening now in Manhattan. I cannot believe he is for real.

    Second, I lived in Manhattan from 1988 to 2011, and I agree that the 80s and EARLY 90s were the best, EV, old Eagle/Spike, but that is all through rose colored glasses. I see the young'uns having plenty of fun today too. Just in other venues.

    Quinn is just the inevitable, natural result of Guiliani and the real estate bubble.

    Posted by: Will in MUC | Mar 5, 2013 6:22:35 AM

  7. It's sad to see that Rawhide is yet another victim to the impossibly-skyrocketing rents in Manhattan not to mention the changing demographics of Chelsea itself.

    I have some pretty good memories of when Rawhide first opened. It was the era when moving to Chelsea out of the West Village was considered pretty daring. It was a nice, laid-back place just to hang out over the years.

    Chelsea isn't even gay anymore so I guess it is inevitable that such a place as Rawhide would fall to the rampant, inevitable greed of Manhattan's real estate industry.

    I mean, who in the hell can succeed as a business paying $27,000/mo. in rent? My guess is that it will become another Duane Reade. God knows there aren't enough of those in Manhattan.

    Don't expect Christine Quinn to do a damned thing. She's doing a pretty good job of whoring herself to the highest campaign donor (those same, greedy real estate companies) in her eternal quest to be the next mayor of NYC. Ms. Quinn is nothing short of repugnant which means she's the perfect candidate to take over from Mayor Bloomberg.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Mar 5, 2013 9:51:33 AM

  8. Thanks, nuflux, for the comment. I've lived in LA for 27 years, and I'm still discovering things in its many distinct neighborhoods/enclaves. No doubt it looks like a big anonymous blob to those who spend a week in traffic and see only WeHo/Santa Monica and Hollywood Boulevards. What the closing of the Rawhide (sadly) illustrates is the further homogenization of America, with a Starbucks, Chase Bank and nail salon on every corner. In the gay world, part of this can be blamed on technology: With dating apps, who needs bars? And so community meeting places and serendipitous face-to-face encounters are dying as we become commodities on the shelf of Scruff and Grindr. Yes, it's all very convenient and cheaper than going to bars, but the price is the loss of soul, geographic personality and a sense of connection to a community.

    Posted by: Nick | Mar 5, 2013 1:45:44 PM

  9. 27,000 month -- that's not the small cozy diverse place it once was. It will never be that way again. There are amazing places across this great country. The city of greed isn't the same, won't be the same, so don't bother crying about it.

    Posted by: David | Mar 5, 2013 7:37:12 PM

  10. To me, the Rawhide was more than some "random" place. It was there that I decided to come out in 1984. It was there that I made some of the best friends of my life, good people who happened, for the most part, to be gay. People who lived in the neighborhood (I didn't - I lived in Brooklyn); people who identified with the Rawhide as a place they could go to escape the crowds elsewhere. I was pretty much a regular, although I didn't wear leather and I didn't cruise. I made friends there. I moved to LA 25 years ago, and I'm probably moving back to NYC (much love for LA AND NYC here...) So I understand those who say "it's just another bar", but really it was much more.

    Posted by: bckm | Aug 29, 2013 10:00:45 PM

  11. I am a gay man but I am married with children. Cara I want a divorce. I am sick of you setting the kitchen on fire on dealing with your dry skin. I want a man that can make me a bundt cake twice a month. I am sick of you and the lacquered furniture. I wanted the Ethan Allen. I should of dated the gay guy from Woodlake in Marlton with the Thuderbird. Maybe we can still make it work if I can find him.

    Posted by: Rick Green North Jersey | Nov 11, 2013 10:10:59 PM

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