Monday, June 06, 2011

"The Saloon": Minneapolis gay bar is a national institution; more on "Boom/Bulldog" and "Front/Ground Zero"

Saturday night, I did have a chance to resurrect my days of old, particularly in the 2002-2003 period, with a visit to The Saloon on Hennepin Ave. in Minneapolis. This time, there was a co-party with the GLBT Film Festival as part of the Minnesota Independent Film Project.

The place has added a new room where there used to exist an outdoor patio. Now, Minneapolis apparently has chased smokers outside, just have many other cities.  And patrons, especially younger adults, like it.  The new room is upscale, with some abstract sculpture.

The long dance floor used to have three stands, but now there are more of them, and they are flush together to form elevated areas.

There is a shower stall for dancers, with a no photography sign in front of it (which might be required by a local or state law).  The dance floor was filled with fog or mist, which would make photography difficult, although some people were still shooting videos.

The other “institution” in Minneapolis is the Gay 90s, with its dancers, many rooms, and drag shows upstairs. The scuttlebutt is that younger straight couples go to the 90s to “play it safe” with their adventures; if a straight man wants to experience some real voyeurism, he takes his girl friend to the Saloon, too. Plenty of national celebrities, not all gay, have been there at one time. 

The Saloon is a bit of an informal national institution.  The website is (website url) this. There is a similar establishment with the same name in Kansas City MO which I visited in 2006.

(For some reason, gay90s.com is not working right now; the cache does work.)

The Minneapolis Star Tribune did have a disturbing story June 6 about disturbances in the entertainment district of Minneapolis, “Cracking down on Mayhem in Clubland” by Tom Morgen and Matt McKinney (subscription required). The immediate blocks near the Saloon were not involved, but areas closer to the 90s were (as was 1st Ave N, behind Hennepin). 

By the way -- what used to be "The Boom" on the East Bank is now "The Bulldog", same floor plan, but now a "regular" sports bar.  I told the waitress that in Washington DC "Nellie's" really works as a gay sports bar. But I ate my last dinner at The Boom on Aug. 23, 2003 before leaving The Churchill Apts for good Aug. 24, 2003 to return to DC for family reasons. It was a sad drive back.

The "Ground Zero", where weird SM shows (including straight) used to happen, as well as "The Front", with its archeology museum, appear to still be there.

By the way, it looked as though Shinders, the wonderful newsstand about a block from The Saloon across Hennepin, is closed. I loved that place, finding all those books there by Noam Chomsky after 9/11.

Below: The Gay 90s on Hennepin (2002 Gay Pride Parade):

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