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Club Cobra – North Hollywood gay Latino bar – will not reopen

Club Cobra

Club Cobra, the gay Latino bar in North Hollywood, will not reopen after COVID-19. The property owner is selling the building. Photo: Q Voice News.

NORTH HOLLYWOOD — Club Cobra — the North Hollywood gay Latino bar — will not re-open after COVID-19.

The property owner is selling the building, according to a post on Club Cobra’s Instagram page Thursday.

Julio Licon, who owns Club Cobra with his business partner Marty Sokol, also shared a message on his Instagram page.

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‘It breaks my heart’

“It breaks my heart to have to make this announcement. @ClubCobra will not reopen,” Licon said. “Unfortunately, we were not able to come back from the COVID-19 shut down.”

Licon thanked customers, “especially our faithful regulars…our Cobra Family. Together we made the LA LGBTQ+ scene undeniably the best in the country!

“We’re sorry we couldn’t have a proper goodbye.”

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Club Cobra has been a safe space for the LGBTQ Latino community almost 13 years, opening near the intersection of Burbank Boulevard and Vineland Avenue at the end of 2007.

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Club Cobra

The bar-nightclub was known for its caliente go-go dancers, drag show en Español, and the longest running transgender Latino night in Los Angeles.

Licon and Sokol also own the East Los Angeles gay Latino bar Club Chico, which opened in 1999. After learning that sizable numbers of their clientele traveled from the San Fernando Valley, Licon and Sokol opened Club Cobra.

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Circus Disco

The Club Cobra closing is the latest blow to the queer Latino nightlife scene in Los Angeles. Circus Disco was the first and longest running gay Latino nightclub in the City of Angeles.

The massive disco was opened in the mid 1970s and was located in the heart of Hollywood, just a few blocks from the former DesiLu Studios where “I Love Lucy” was filmed.

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Arena Cafe

Several years later, the owner of Circus Disco bought the neighboring property, a former ice factory, and opened Arena Cafe, another mammoth nightclub. This space, which also catered to the LGBTQ Latino community, was two levels.

Safe spaces demolished

Both clubs were directly across the street from the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s office on McCadden Place, which is home to the new Anita May Rosenstein Campus.

Both clubs closed Dec. 31, 2015, after the owner, Gene La Pietra, sold the properties to a luxury condo developer. A few weeks later, Circus Disco and Arena Cafe were demolished. 

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Club Chico

In their social media posts, Club Cobra and Licon said that all Club Cobra events will move to Club Chico, with other surprises upcoming.

“We also retain the licenses to throw large Club Cobra events & Concerts outdoors in parks and or at the beach & in large indoor event spaces,” Club Cobra posted.

“We have many exciting announcements to make — do not be sad for a building — our spirit lives on elsewhere!”

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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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