If you’d asked me last week what the next nightspot going to Gay Bar Heaven would be, I probably would have said the Gangway. But the writing has been on the wall for Esta Noche for some time now – Looking cameo notwithstanding.
The 34-year-old bar on 16th Street was already in trouble last May, when a who’s-who of queer nightlife gathered for Save Esta Noche, aiming to raise $9000 to get on top of a permit payment to the city that it had fallen behind on. The place was packed, with drag superstar Heklina shouting, “We don’t need more overpriced Tex-Mex shit in the Mission. We need Esta Noche!” But the accompanying Indiegogo campaign raised less than half of its goal.
Whether it’s profitable or financially troubled, it’s impossible not to project a triple-whammy of anxieties onto Esta Noche’s closure. It’s a gay dive, in the central Mission, with a largely Latino clientele. It’s been on borrowed time awhile. And so here we are. The team behind WISH Bar and Lounge in SoMa is taking over, and according to their Facebook page, Esta Noche’s current owners “we’re ready to retire and take a vacation [and] chose us to take over…We are restoring the arched bar and going to keep as much of the historic qualities as possible.” That’s relieving, but whatever comes next will almost certainly be kind of generic relative to assertive drag queens dancing to Madonna and Selena.
The Mission is losing something both concrete and intangible. When bookstores shut down and sad nerds lament them, philistine jerkwads pour salt on the wound by tut-tutting about business models and the free market. So there’s bound to be people who are very happy to see this distasteful little anachronism go away. Nearly all of Esta Noche’s one-star Yelp reviews come from people who don’t like the naked dude mural, think Rondel Alley smells like pee, and generally fear for their lives.
Anyway, there’s no need to sit shivah at home – in spite of being sold, Esta Noche will continue unchanged for a few months before closing to be assimilated. That’s at least 60 weekday happy hours, give or take. Stop in, say hi, say bye. ¡Te quiero, Esta Noche!
Photo by torbakhopper via Flickr