Is the Gay Bar Dead? Not So, Says Barracuda.

Candis Cayne performing at Barracuda’s 20th anniversary party.

Lowder, Bryan

The common wisdom about gay nightlife these days is that it’s on the wane. With the dominance of gay-focused social networking and hookup apps pretty well established in most areas, socializing and sex—arguably the two major drivers of gay bar attendance—can now be lazily pursued at home, where the alcohol is almost certainly cheaper. But there’s something to be said for the magic of a gay bar that gets it right: the balance of sexy cruisiness with campy drag that keeps things interesting, the mix of strong drinks, friendly staff, and general good vibes that can make a bar feel like an extension of your living room.

One such bar is Barracuda, a mainstay of Manhattan’s Chelsea “gayborhood.” In fact, the charming dive just celebrated its 20th anniversary last October—an insanely long run for any bar, not to mention a gay one. Barracuda is particularly famed as a launching pad for drag and performance artists: Legendary queens like Jackie Beat, Flotilla Debarge, and Sherry Vine have graced its stage, as has trans singer Candis Cayne. So it makes sense that the anniversary celebration would feature as many alumnae as possible. Filmmaker Daniel Robinson has created a gorgeous short of the night, featuring interviews with the queens, patrons, and owner Bob Pontarelli. Watching it will remind you why, even if they are less functionally necessary, gay bars are still an important center of gay culture and life. 

Update: Outward contributor Miz Cracker can be spotted at the 2:27 mark!