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Street Meet - Big block party planned for Eagle's fifth anniversary

by David-Elijah Nahmod

Gents at a 2017 Bearracuda, one of many popular events at the new SF Eagle. photo: SF Eagle
Gents at a 2017 Bearracuda, one of many popular events at the new SF Eagle. photo: SF Eagle  

On April 29 the SF Eagle, one of South of Market's most popular and iconic gay bars, will celebrate its fifth anniversary under the ownership of Lex Montiel and Mike Leon with what promises to be a huge birthday bash.

The party will run from 2pm to 9pm and will include live entertainment, DJs and dancing, and speeches from celebrity guests. There will also be gogo dancers, along with the Eagle's legendary beer bust. The first 200 people through the door get a free Eagle anniversary T-shirt.

Beer bust patrons at the SF Eagle in 2016. Photo: Rich Stadtmiller  

For many, the celebration is particularly meaningful. The current owners took over the Eagle at a time when it was closed, thereby saving an institution from the days when Folsom and Harrison Streets were the center of a thriving leather community and culture.

"We needed to save the bar because they were closing it," co-owner Lex Montiel told the Bay Area Reporter. "It was uncertain what was happening to the space. We want to keep it in the community."

The 2018 Mr. SF Eagle contest.  

The bar reopened in March 2013 to long lines for their beer busts. The staff was comprised of both new and former employees. Many celebrated the bar's return. But according to Montiel, the Eagle is more than just a bar. The venue is also involved in community fundraising.

"We're a community space, the best place to raise funds for organizations," Montiel said. "There's a sense of family in the space. In order to maintain that sense of family it is important to have the Eagle."

Andy Cross and MoniStat cohosted a wild Halloween party at The Eagle in 2013.  (Source:BARtab)

Montiel noted that the bar is open to all, LGBT or not. But he was also quick to point out that the bar has not lost sight of its leather history.

"We're still primarily a leather bar," he said. "But because so many people don't have a space we hold events for other organizations, we welcome everyone."

The Eagle's birthday party promises to be a fun, lively event, with performances from the bands Ethel Merman Experience, Diesel Dudes and Bitch, Please! There will be speeches from mayoral candidate Mark Leno and State Senator Scott Wiener, while DJs David Harness and Don Baird will be spinning tunes for your dancing pleasure.

Montiel said that the bar's future plans will also be announced at the party, such as a non-profit which will help people purchase leather outfits they can afford. He also talked about the upcoming Eagle Plaza.

"Eagle Plaza, which will be located on 12th Street between Harrison and Bernice Streets, will be the first leather plaza in the world," Montiel explained. "SoMa needs this. There are no green areas in the neighborhood. It's already city approved and ready to go."

The projected opening date for Eagle Plaza is sometime in 2019. Montiel added that there will also be a group called Friends of the Eagle Plaza.

"They'll be in charge of activities, art, performances, music, and raising money for the best of the community," he said.

The owners hope that the plaza will be 100 percent pedestrian.

"There will be trees and benches," Montiel said. "We hope to serve food and drinks outside, maybe have a little kiosk."

Montiel also said that he hoped The Eagle would be around to celebrate its 50th anniversary. "Our five-year anniversary commemorates 35 years of The Eagle, he said. "I hope to be there in another 15 years, and I hope that someone else will take it over."

SF Eagle 5th Anniversary Block Party,
398 12th Street. Sunday, April 9, 2pm-9pm.


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