NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — After 34 years in business, the iconic Rawhide gay bar in Chelsea will be closing permanently in less than three weeks.
The last day for Rawhide, at 212 Eighth Ave., will be March 31, the bar announced last week on its Facebook page.
The bar invited patrons to visit for the final night on “March 30, Holy Saturday,” and its staff remarked on Facebook, “Remember one door closes and another one opens….We will let you know where and when in NYC.”
Rawhide will also raffle off a motorcycle that hangs from the ceiling over a pool table at the closing night event.
Michael Musto reported in the Village Voice late last week that Rawhide plans to reopen at 53rd Street and Third Avenue, in Midtown East, a couple of months after the closing, but the bar has not referenced this plan on its Facebook page.
Rawhide opened in 1979, and was described by the blog Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York as “one of the last handful of old-school, unpretentious gay bars left in New York City.”
But the owners told Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York they decided they could no longer continue after the new landlord for the building raised the rent from $15,000 to $27,000 a month.
Rawhide was described by the blog as “the oldest Levis-and-leather bar in the city,” with its dark interior, muscle model and Tom of Finland posters, and old-school video games and pinball machines.
Owner Jay Goudgeon told the blog that Rawhide first opened long before Chelsea became a popular gay nightlife district. He said neighbors responded by throwing bricks at the windows – only to be hit with eggs by bar patrons who fought back.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who announced her candidacy for mayor on Sunday, also had fond memories of the Rawhide bar when she spoke to New York Magazine in January. She told the magazine the bar countered Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s quote of the city being a “luxury product,” being a community meeting place that represented “the type of neighborhood experience we want to be able to have.”
Have you been to Rawhide, and do you have any memories? Please leave your comments below…