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Bar Mattachine — downtown Los Angeles gay bar — closes

Bar Mattachine DTLA

Bar Mattachine — the downtown Los Angeles gay bar named after the 1950s, pioneering queer group the Mattachine Society — closed today. The bar posted on social media about the shuttering. Photo: James Quintanilla for Q Voice News.

UPDATED: This story has been updated with quotes from co-owner Garret McKetchnie.

Bar Mattachine — the downtown Los Angeles gay bar named after the  1950s, pioneering queer group the Mattachine Society — closed today.

The bar posted on social media about the shuttering.

Bar Mattachine closed its doors today. Thank you to everyone who came through and helped us create a bar with spirit and story. Goodbye… for now. To be continued.

 

‘QUEER SPACES ARE VITAL’

On Monday, co-owner Garret McKetchnie told Q Voice News, “It was a situation that was unique to Bar Mattachine. It was not the gay community’s fault.

“Queer spaces are important and vital,” McKetchnie said. “We need to support them. There will never be a time when we don’t need a gay bar.

“We don’t need to blend into heterosexual culture,” he said. “We have our own culture and history.”

Vianey Vee Delgadillo is the other co-owner of Bar Mattachine.

NEW PROJECT

McKetchnie also said he has another queer space in the works, but didn’t offer many details yet.

“I found a great new location and am moving onto a new project that I’m very excited about,” he said.

Numerous people posted Sunday on the Bar Mattachine’s Facebook page, expressing shock and sadness about the sudden closing.

The bar, which opened Oct. 9 , 2015, on Seventh Street near Broadway, was about six weeks shy of its third anniversary. When the bar opened, it was part of a Renaissance of gay businesses in Pershing Square. Precinct and Redline, two other queer bars in the area, also opened in 2015. Previous to them, The New Jalisco Bar, which caters to queer Latinos and is located on Main Street between Second and Third streets, was open. 

“This is a VERY sad day,” Precinct’s Brian McIntire wrote on Facebook.

Oliver Luke Alpuche, owner of Redline, told Q Voice News, “It’s hard to believe it’s true. Bar Mattachine was a big part of the growth of downtown.”

THE MATTACHINE SOCIETY

The bar is named for Los Angeles’ own Harry Hay and the men of The Mattachine Society, and the women of the Daughters of Bilitis, who lived public lives in the 1950s as gay men and lesbians. At the time, being gay or lesbian was considered a mental disorder, and people were routinely scorned by society. However, The Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis were unapologetic activists who led protests and supported gay and lesbian rights.

“The Mattachine Society is the reason Bar Mattachine is here now,” the bar said on its website. “A little gay bar in downtown L.A., serving up some damn good drinks and a good time. Gay in all of its many wonderful meanings and proud to here.”

The two-story space was designed by McKechnie and Charlie Campbell with mostly dark colors and a sleek ambiance. A fabulous painting by Andrew Campbell, a prominent gay artist, was hung near the entrance.

Andrew Campbell Gay Artist

This provocative painting by Andrew Campbell adorned a wall at Bar Mattachine. Photo: James Quintanilla for Q Voice News.

QUEER HISTORY DRINKS

McKechnie also created the cocktail list, which included signature cocktails, including the Harry Hay, made with Rittenhouse 100-proof rye, Dolan Rouge Amargo Vallet Bark of Angostura, Maraschino liqueur and a caramelized lemon oil and Maraska cherry garnish.

Hay’s boyfriend, Rudy Gernreich, also had a place on the drink menu. Rudy’s Downfal made with honey syrup, fresh pineapple juice, lime juice and Flor De Cana 4-year, and 7-year rum.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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