Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Gay Bar Review: The Detroit Eagle

It’s not a chain, and it’s not a franchise. But nearly every somewhat major city has a gay bar called The Eagle. The idea is that The Eagle caters to the levi/leather crowd. Well, and the bear crowd too depending on the market. The bar has reputation for being scary, or dirty, or just filthy sexy. I mean, that’s a leather bar stereotype too, but The Eagle is sort of the archetype. Who even knows how long bars called Eagle have been around? At least since the 70’s.

In some cities, there is a lot of filth involved with a trip to The Eagle.
New York City and DC come to mind. I mean, I’ve heard. In other cities it’s more a local type bar, or an alternative to the S&M (stand and model) scene at some of the other bars. Pittsburgh is like this, their Eagle is hugely popular.

And then you get Detroit. I have to laugh when I meet guys who have never been to the Detroit Eagle and act scandalized when you mention going there. Why? Because the Detroit Eagle is a totally different variant of Eagle: sad, lonely and pathetic.

I first went to the Detroit Eagle back in ’99. It was a little weird, a totally new crowd for me, but fun. Frankly I was hoping to witness a little filth and didn’t get it, but you know, it was fine. I was a new face and had most of my drinks bought for me, so that was exciting. It was a while before I went back, but I remember at one point being struck by the fact that it was a pretty great and totally different scene, and the music was fucking awesome. It was full early 80’s gay bar throwback … a little Donna Summer, some Lime, and when was the last time you heard “The Visitors” by ABBA? Mixed in was some current dance stuff, but good remixes. And the funny kicker is that nobody dances.

Well my friends and I hung onto this idea of the Eagle for a long time, but after a few recent visits I was forced to let go and accept the new reality. The Detroit Eagle is horrible. Let’s look at my last visit.

Fridays are empty there, generally. So I went on a Saturday. I actually had been someplace dress-up beforehand and did the change-in-the-car thing for the uniform of jeans and a black t-shirt. I walked up to the door, paid a $3 cover, and entered a room that was MAYBE 30% occupied. At 11:30 on their busiest night. And that was the highlight of the evening.

I went to order a beer at the bar (because *hello* that’s what you drink at an Eagle) and when I said I wanted to start a tab they informed me they don’t take credit cards. “But there’s an ATM over there.” OK, hi, even Honest John’s now takes credit cards. The ATM? Out of order. So I had to leave the bar, get in my car, and drive to an ATM. As I am driving past The Woodward (the gay bar that’s been around since the ‘50’s, not the restaurant in Compuware that’s been there since last year), I end up behind a car with the license plate
LA BEIJA and think, “I really should be going where they’re going.”

But I didn’t. I got money and went back. The music? The same they’ve been playing for the past five years. The crowd? As clique-y as any at Pronto. So much for the “the Eagle is the friendly bar” claim. The crowd was not very pulled together either. By that I mean dressed shitty and none-too-pretty.

I left after a while realizing that the Detroit Eagle has really lost any sort of fun vibe that *I* ever experienced, and is really just a sad little gay bar. When you walk in and frantically think, “is this my future in Detroit?" you know it’s time to walk right back out.


Josie said...

I love the Eagle, just for it's absurdity. I used to stop there for a last call drink after work. Much like every other bar in Detroit, its swarming with fat, ugly bald guys. The perk: they leave my friends and I alone.

I remember the first time I went there. A pack of roaming dogs was nearby. The guy at the door who said he'd watch my car was missing an eye ball. Ahh...good times.

Just found your site. Love it.

ed said...

You should've stayed at whatever party from earlier in the night. I heard, like, 15 hot guys showed up around 1am. Either that, or some dude ate approximately 38 chicken wings in 4 minutes. That wasn't hot.

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