A bright and sunny Sunday morning is a weird time to be outside the Eagle. The sidewalk that’s usually shadowy with red tinted light is now blindingly bright in the sun. Big metal blast doors cover the Eagle’s entryways and the looming eagle emblem hanging on the building’s side seems quiet and asleep. The street is quiet and I want to be asleep. BUT, I’m here for something fun…a favor for a friend…and honestly my excitement for the project far outweighs any other desire to be sleeping or eating pancakes (things you do on a Sunday morning).
The project is–for now–top secret as my friend wants to keep it under wraps until he’s ready to reveal it (and then I’ll treat you all to a fun video)…but the experience of hanging out at the Eagle during the day in a very different context than the nighttime bar scene was great.
My connection to the Eagle has been growing over the past couple years and I’ve really come to see it as a friendly social space that houses a part of queer history. The building itself is a historical structure made up of ancient aching bricks that date back to the very early days of the City. With the lights on, you can really see the tough old stone of the floors and the walls covered in photographs of leathermen from the past (there’s actually tons of pictures, posters, and even some paintings all around the bar) . There’s a sense of history and lineage here…a small specialized force that I love exploring and getting to know.
With the recent blog entries about gentrification and the inevitable development of the area around the Eagle, there are many who believe the Eagle’s days are numbered (just like the other bars and clubs before it: The Lure, Spike, Anvil, Mineshaft, etc). I was sitting and having dinner with a friend the other night down in the trendy Meat Packing District and he was telling me stories of his adventures in the 80’s in the old leather places. Turns out the restaurant we were eating at was once one of those old places–now erased from the cityscape and turned into a pricey eatery. We discussed the value of having social spaces for our community and despite whatever criticism people have about the Eagle, it’s a great place for us.
So here I am, on a Sunday morning dressed up in gear at the Eagle (the owners are WONDERFUL for letting us use the space for our projects and endeavors). One of the other guys involved in the project isn’t a leatherman and he sits a bit tense and wide-eyed as he watches us put on gear. He asks me, “So…you really wear this stuff sometimes?” I smile and laugh and tell him, “Of course!” and give a little explanation about Leather. I invite him to CODE and he responds with a non-committal smile, still seeming unsure and nervous. “It’s really a nice place, man. Guys are very cool and welcoming,” I try to assure him.
The Eagle. It’s the only leather bar I’ve ever known and I do love it. And with great owners who are willing to let us use the space for our various events–fundraisers, parties, music videos, etc.–I say let’s enjoy this bar as much as we can. It’s there, go play!