Monday, April 8, 2013

Rawhide Goodbye

The Rawhide is gone. After 34 years of holding down its corner of Chelsea, the bar closed for good on March 30.

And before the sweat has dried, already the space has come onto the market, with the realtor's sign hammered on top of its black awning, calling for "corner restaurant/retail" beneath the rainbow flag still flying.

The real estate listing for 212 Eighth Avenue includes a marketing brochure on the property. It highlights "neighbors" like The Gap, Starbucks, American Apparel, and many other national chains. However, it fails to mention the big Salvation Army right next door and the block's gay sex shops, The Blue Store and Rainbow Station (two businesses targeted by Chelsea's anti-sex brigade).

In addition, the brochure offers a delirious map of Chelsea pocked with countless chain-store logos. We know more is coming. We won't be surprised when we see a sickening 7-Eleven slithering into this spot, or a frozen-yogurt banality, another dead-eyed bank branch, a cupcake horror. We know the drill.

Says JVNY reader Chris, "As Chelsea turned into a bro, mommy, tourist, chain-store hell-hole, Rawhide became more than just a home for those who are not into 'marriage equality' and Grindr. It became a breaker holding back the forces of corporatization in Chelsea. We needed Rawhide because it stayed true to itself, and it was never going to become mainstream. It was not a bar full of zombies. Rawhide was real--and in a city that has become utterly fake and meaningless, we needed it more than ever."

As of this weekend, the bar's name has been ripped from the awning. A souvenir? Or an erasure?

As for last week's goodbye party, the place was packed. I said my goodbye earlier, to avoid the crushing crowd, but reader Chris was there (so was The Urban Bear). Chris reports:

"The room was wall-to-wall, with about four layers of men standing in front of the bar, and 3 or 4 biological women. Rawhide was never a place that lots of women went to, and it took a special kind of fag hag to go there. There was porn playing on the screen in the corner, and the go-go boys were classic: hot, young, and high, totally willing to go there for a dollar or more. There was nothing sanitized about them.

Around midnight the head of one of the bear groups got up and made a speech in honor of Rawhide. At one point he admonished gay men to 'Get off Grindr! Get off Manhunt! Get off Scruff! Go to bars to meet men!' The crowd roared. But one 20-something next to me just kept scrolling his device."

Reader Timmmy K. shot some video in those final hours at the bar:

Saving my drink tickets until the new Rawhide opens...

Read More:
The Rawhide Closure
An Interview with the Owner


Yuppers said...

This does break my heart. Goodbye NYC that I used to know. :( Please say Thank You to Timmy for the video. It was nice to see some people I know and be able to hear Miguel's voice once again. Funny that a Guy from Western Mass knows so many people there. Tell you just how wonderful and neighborly Rawhide was.

Thom Simmons said...

So, so sad....

Unknown said...

We just watch slowly as NYC dies. I believe we've all given up hope of ever stopping this. No reason to even think of ways to fight it. Just more reasons I'm happy to have moved to Brooklyn where at least we hold onto some of what used to make Manhattan unique (small coffee shops, small mom n pop shops etc.).

Anonymous said...

I'm female, straight and don't live near Rawhide and still, I'm sad to see it go.

Such places are what made NY the roiling, energetic, creative, non-Kansas place it used to be.

Anonymous said...

I was the "special kind of fag hag" that went to Rawhide.

Change is inevitable, but yet we don't have to wipe out uniqueness for the sake of change.

Anonymous said...

Interesting choice of reopening locale:

mch said...

Like female Anonymous above, I'm sad to see Rawhide go. Not because I have any personal experience of a Rawhide. (My own life has been -- mostly but not all -- pretty tame. By maybe the "but not all" is key here. I am content with my "tame" because there's a little "not all" there?)

I remember an intense, intimate conversation with two friends maybe some 15 years ago, a gay couple, devoted and intertwined in every way with each other (like buying a house together). One would like to marry, the other, no way. They talked it through in front of me, with me. I often think about that conversation, because since them one has died, the other moved far away, and I just miss them, each of them and the two of them together. But also because, these days, I value the insight they gave me. Marriage equality, yes, of course. But it's more complicated. Space needed, too, for alternatives, for imaginings. The many spaces needed.

How did NY of all places start losing the space for these conversations?

Sinestra said...

Look at the Realtor's listing: at the bottom they seem to be using these neighbors as a selling point "16 Handles, Starbucks, Boston Market, The Gap, Rite Aid, American Apparel" looks like the corporate chain stores are the only viable option here in the New NYC. It's so boring and sanitized, I could cry. I am seriously thinking of moving out of here as it is too sad to watch this city sell out.

Unknown said...

MARRIAGE LAW WAS REFORMED, NOW THE PUSH IS TO REFORM GAY MALE CULTURE. Quinn and legal reform, Ellen & cultural reform. Not only in NYC, but nationwide.

Unknown said...

Sad but true. Cultural reform to accommodate marriage law is going to far. Uptown leather boys, with money to invest are Not investing in the downtown scene anymore. It's a national, disneyfied lgbt community.