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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Drag Queens Say Farewell to Mission Institution Esta Noche

Posted By on Tue, Mar 18, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Anna Conda and Heklina at "Save Esta Noche" - FABIAN ECHEVARRIA
  • Fabian Echevarria
  • Anna Conda and Heklina at "Save Esta Noche"

Another one bites the dust.

Mission gay bar, Esta Noche, has closed its doors to make way for, you guessed it, another swanky cocktail bar geared toward 20-somethings with disposable income. The venue, which for the past 33 years has catered to the queer Latino crowd and played host to weekly drag shows, was a little rough, for sure. Locals tell stories of walking by mid-afternoon and catching glimpses of dudes blowing other dudes behind open doors. But it's San Francisco. Wouldn't you be a little disappointed if we couldn't stand some mid-day BJ action?

"I know it got a lot of shit for being, you know, Esta Noche and for being dive-y," says regular performer Persia, "but that was my drag home."

Persia called it home for over five years. And at the height of its popularity, Esta Noche was putting on up to six drag shows a week.

The first of its kind, Esta Noche was a godsend for LGBT minorities. Persia and tells us that, "It's really heartbreaking, not only for my coworkers and the bartenders there, but for the community."

Something about the end of a gay Latino bar in a once predominantly Latino neighborhood seems twisted. "It's sad that the owners didn't sell [the space] to someone in the community," he continues.

But unless you've been living under a rock you know how San Francisco real estate works.

"I know of a lot of people who wanted to purchase the place [that were] from the community," he says, "but I guess nowadays, money talks!"

The team taking over the old Esta Noche space is also behind SOMA's Wish Bar and Lounge, located in between 11th and 12th streets on Folsom. Wish Bar features lush leather couches and house music. Fine, but it's a far cry from the "anything goes" ambiance of Esta Noche.

Despite a shoutout in HBO's Looking and a "Save Esta Noche" fundraiser put on last May by the queens of San Francisco drag queens, Heklina and Anna Conda, Esta Noche is now officially closed.

So, farewell amazing drag shows. Farewell lunchtime fellatio. Farewell cheap drinks at a convenient location. Times are hard. And if a cameo on a hit HBO show can't save you, what can?

For events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF, Laura Jaye Cramer at @laurajayecramer, and like us on Facebook.

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