Esta Noche in San Francisco closed. It would be easy to lament the prevailing gentrification. Instead, I offer a brief eulogy.

April 4th, 2014, 2pm

J. took this photo and brought it back to Tokyo. I asked him, “How come the sign is covered? Did some idiot vandalize it?” “Oh, you didn’t know that? They closed.” The yellow sign says, “Esta Noche,” in a cheap graphic and a palm tree silhouette on the side. I shouldn’t be surprised that the 34-year-old gay dive is gone.

Not that I went there often. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time I was there. 1998? Maybe 2000? But that’s hardly the point. The point is that the bar itself is a piece of the city’s history. It is on the 16th, between Valencia and Mission, one of the most “exciting” block in the city. I moved to San Francisco in 1993, and “Esta Noche” was one of the few bars I didn’t feel out of place. The most clienteles were Latinos, but they didn’t mind this Japanese guy hanging out. Let’s be more blunt: Poor gays and bisexuals would find this place welcoming.

Pink and blue neon lights would buzz. Mirrors were everywhere. The paint on the walls looked unfinished. Golden satin curtains were trying to hide any imperfection. Very DIY. The place is small. The bathroom looked like a cage. This is where J. and I saw “Mahogany” and “Mitsy Lee” perform on the tiny backstage. Drag queens there were old school, not cutting edge like SOMA drag queens, but felt like your big-sister you always wanted to have.

Probably you never went there, and you would have never been interested in going inside. But who cares, really? The city shouldn’t have let it go.

Daniel, Luis, Marcus, Chris and 2 others said thanks.

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Shu Kuge

Woodcut printmaker

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