December 5, 2021 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

GAY L.A. COLUMN: Meet You On the Other Side

Remembering L.A.’s last great piano bar.

Earlier this month, the New York Times ran a profile of Steve Ross, one of the city’s last great Cabaret artists. Ross has been playing at piano bars across the city since the 1980s, bringing the camp classics of the Great American Songbooks to newer, younger audiences at venues from the Algonquin to Birdland.

While New York has always had a history of small, intimate bars built around a piano, L.A.’s relationship to the classic queer cabaret bar has been different. While the opening of Tramp Stamp Granny’s in Hollywood sparked a type of renaissance for that certain type of New York-style bar that’s so adept at mixing show tune singalongs with boozing and debauchery, there’s still nothing that can replace L.A.’s classic piano bar “The Other Side,” which closed in 2012.

Before Silver Lake was the collection hipster eateries and cafes that we know and love today, it was kind of a dive. It was also pretty gay. Back in the early 2010s, the Silver Lake community was composed of, according to writer Besha Rodell, “a couple of single mothers raising teenagers, older gay couples, a Perry Farrell-like dude named Adam who created and tended to the neighborhood’s famous chandelier tree… a neighborhood of artists and outsiders, people who had left small towns to find a home more suited to their needs for freedom and creativity.”

Photo: Punch.
L.A.’s “The Other Side” was an Eastside hangout for queer folks and outsiders.

In Rodell’s recent article about “The Other Side” for Punch Magazine, she cites the bar as being the glue that held this small, queer community together.

When the bar first opened in 1967, L.A. had plenty of piano bars to speak of. Richard Little told Rodell that Silver Lake, at that time, was like no other part of the city. “There was no place like it.” He said. “West Hollywood did not have the kind of diversity you’d find in Silver Lake. We ranged in age from old to young; various ethnic groups were welcomed. West Hollywood was never like that.”

While this description might fit a broader swath of today’s queer L.A., there’s still something special about the memory of a place where queer folks could go not to be anonymous, but to be truly intimate. To coexist in the presence of other singing queers and a grand piano. While Silver Lake is still home to Akbar, one of the last historic gay bars in the city, nothing has come up to truly take the place of “The Other Side,” with its funky interior, community-oriented vibe, and frequent singalongs. There are many factors that may have contributed to this. Was it the fact that AIDS came along and laid claim to so many lives? Was it the creation of hook-up apps that made it unnecessary to seek out human company? The rising cost of rent in the newly-hip neighborhood? Most likely a combination of all three.

Even in the midst of so many historic closures of gay bars across the country, L.A. hasn’t suffered nearly as much as some smaller cities. But during the holiday season, when queer folks want to drink, revel, and escape their relatives, it’s nice to remember a place where everybody sang your name.

 

Related Posts

WeHo’s 31st Annual Toy & Food Drive

November 30, 2021

November 30, 2021

The City of West Hollywood and the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station are partnering to help give back to those in...

Congregation Kol Ami To Host World AIDS Day 2021 Event

November 30, 2021

November 30, 2021

Progressive, Reform Congregation Kol Ami will mark World AIDS Day with a special interfaith observance, combining awareness, remembrance, and speaking...

Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Culinary Arts Program Served Hundreds For Thanksgiving Holiday

November 30, 2021

November 30, 2021

The Los Angeles Culinary Arts program served nearly 900 people Thanksgiving meals making it the largest undertaking so far.  The...

The Center Long Beach Older Adult Service’s Rolls Out In-person & Hybrid Programming

November 30, 2021

November 30, 2021

The Center’s Older Adult Services Program rolls out in-person activities and adopts a hybrid programming model.  Socially distant, outdoor in-person...

WeHo Wins ‘Most Business-Friendly City Award’ from the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation

November 30, 2021

November 30, 2021

The City of West Hollywood has been awarded the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation’s 2021 Most Business-Friendly City Award....

The Center Long Beach Will Participate In Giving Tuesday

November 30, 2021

November 30, 2021

The LGBTQ Center Long Beach will be participating in Giving Tuesday, a global day of generosity taking place on November...

WeHo Commemorates Transgender Day of Remembrance 2021

November 30, 2021

November 30, 2021

The City of West Hollywood commemorated Transgender Day of Rememberance through a virtual event.  Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) is...

TransGiving Dinner 2021

November 30, 2021

November 30, 2021

The 21st annual Trans-Giving Dinner was held on November 20th at the Unique Woman’s Coalition (UWC) in West Hollywood.  The...

LGBTQ Center Long Beach Adds New Staff

November 16, 2021

November 16, 2021

The LGBTQ Center Long Beach has added three new members to its board of directors as well as the new...

34th Annual AIDS Walk Long Beach

November 16, 2021

November 16, 2021

The 34th Annual AIDS Walk Long Beach, a benefit for the LGBTQ Center Long Beach and other local providers returned...

LA County Addresses Disproportionate Amount Of Women and LGBTQ Populations In L.A. Jails

November 16, 2021

November 16, 2021

On Tuesday, October 19, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors passed a motion that the board hopes will do...

County Board Of Supervisors Approves $3.6 Million To Serve LGBTQ Foster Youth

November 16, 2021

November 16, 2021

L.A County Board or Supervisors has passed a supplemental budget to its fiscal year 2021-2022, which includes an allocation of...

City Council of WeHo Approves Draft Ordinance to Implement a Citywide Minimum Wage

November 10, 2021

November 10, 2021

The City Council of the City of West Hollywood has unanimously approved a draft Ordinance to establish a citywide minimum...

WeHo Approves Resolution Recognizing November As Native American Heritage Month

November 10, 2021

November 10, 2021

The City of West Hollywood City Council has approved a Resolution recognizing November as Native American Heritage Month. The Resolution...

WeHo Halloween Carnaval 2021 Cancelled

October 31, 2021

October 31, 2021

The City of West Hollywood is reminding the community and the region that the City’s annual Halloween Carnaval will not...