Business Briefing: LGBTQ San Francisco social club daylights

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday April 7, 2021
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The Academy co-owner Nate Bourg, shown in 2019, plans to open up the queer social space with a new daytime program. Photo: Rick Gerharter
The Academy co-owner Nate Bourg, shown in 2019, plans to open up the queer social space with a new daytime program. Photo: Rick Gerharter

As it marks its reopening this weekend with a free art event open to the public, a queer social club in San Francisco's LGBTQ Castro district is planning to offer daytime access to nonmembers starting June 1. Up until now The Academy, housed in a historic gay bar space at 2166 Market Street, has largely only been accessible to its paying members and their guests since it opened May 31, 2017.

The business, impacted by the COVID pandemic over the last year, has only been able to allow its members very limited use of its facilities, in particular its outdoor patio space. In September, it welcomed barber David Hone as a tenant due to the closure of nearby barbershop Male Image where he had long worked. Starting out cutting hair in the backyard, Hone has since taken up residency in the Academy's glassed-in front window area to see his clients.

While shutdown for most of the past 12 months, The Academy owners have worked on securing a liquor license so that they can serve alcoholic beverages without the need to obtain special permits or work with vendors, such as wine tasting hosts, in order to do so. It also plays into their plans to open up the venue on weekdays for what is described as a "social club experience."

Stressing that it is not meant to be a co-working space, the club owners instead envision it as a way for people who have been sequestered at home to meet up with friends over drinks, or use it as a place to catch up on emails outside the confines of their living room. The offering has been dubbed Academy Daylight and will be available from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

The social club is looking to partner with a food purveyor to offer snacks for purchase and plans to provide complimentary coffee, tea, and nonalcoholic sodas. Once allowed to do so, it will also offer a cocktail menu.

"We have been planning this for a long time — ever since we opened our evening social club back in 2017 — and we feel like now is the right time. People have been cooped up in their homes for over a year, craving more social interaction and a change of scenery, especially during a grinding workday," said Nate Bourg, who launched the business with his friend Paul Miller. "Academy Daylight will be a place to get exactly that and more. We really encourage people in the community to check it out — all are welcome."

Nonmembers of The Academy will be able to pay for a subscription to Daylight for repeat visits or purchase a single pass for the day. While the final details are being worked out, monthly passes will cost $80 and an annual subscription will cost $800. Members of the club will also need to pay to access the daytime offering but at a 50% discount.

Regular memberships to The Academy cost $45 a month for people who live at least 30 miles away from the club, while city residents can choose between a $125 or $175 monthly membership with various perks. There is also a one-time activation fee and scholarships available for those with limited incomes.

Between 6 and 10 p.m. Friday, April 9, The Academy is hosting a free art exhibition featuring Nick Aitken's two portrait series "Pretty Masculine" and "The Wallflowers." Anyone wishing to obtain a ticket, which will allow access to up to six people, can do so in advance via The Academy's website at

Got a tip on LGBTQ business news? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail [email protected]

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