San Francisco’s oldest continuously operating queer nightclub, The Stud, is permanently closing its current location at Ninth and Harrison streets in SoMa amid the COVID-19 crisis.
“The Stud is the country’s only cooperatively owned LGBT venue and has been in operation for 55 years,” a 17-member collective that owns The Stud announced in a news release Wednesday. “Because of a lack of revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the historic bar will be announcing that they are permanently closing their location and will be holding a drag funeral to honor the end of an era of LGBT nightlife.”
After initial reports suggested The Stud would be closing for good, co-owners said they plan to look for a new location. Originally situated on Folsom Street, The Stud has been at 399 Ninth St. for the last 33 years.
Co-owner Marke Bieschke reports that the bar’s lease will be up at the end of the year anyway, and amid the COVID-19 crisis, it has been transforming into “a full-fledged virtual club.”
“The Stud, the nightlife entity, is not dead,” Bieschke wrote on the news site 48 Hills. “We’re still going to come back when this is over—a different space with the same lovingly outrageous vibe. … And after this is all over, a new permanent location, to help rebuild the city’s shattered nightlife scene—and continue the Stud’s rough-and-tumble legacy the only way we know how: with shots up and heels high.”
More from the San Francisco Chronicle: The move itself is not entirely surprising. The bar almost closed in 2016 due to a rent increase but was saved by a group of patrons who rallied and reworked the Stud as a cooperative. Among the city’s many gay bars, the Stud has long had a reputation as a home for an alternative queer scene, one that is deliberately open to all. “On any given night you’ll see men in leather, punks with pink hair and even women,” read a 1980 article in Drummer magazine. “But the mix works fabulously and the Stud remains one of the dominant dance bars in a city famous for its discos and clubs.” Etta James performed there; Sylvester, Bjork, Lady Gaga and RuPaul too. Through the years, the Stud’s stage has been home to a wide range of experimental music and performance. And more recently, after the collective took control of the bar, it seemed to enter a new renaissance.