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Eulogy for a Chelsea Leather Bar

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These days, it’s all about the D.J., the cocktails, the lighting, the architecture, but not the actual place. Half the time you look down the bar and it’s just one long blue glow of faces staring at phones. Rawhide was the opposite of all that. It was not the place for the guy chasing the “in” thing. It was for guys who like continuity. You could take your Aunt Tilly—it’s a family place. At that time, there was this wonderful crew, the Canary Queens, who’d go to Carnegie Hall all decked out in leather gear. One day I came in, and they were showing a movie. Everyone was crying. I turned around, and they were watching Bambi, the forest-fire scene after Bambi’s mother has been shot. —Jon Knowles, a Rawhide regular since 1981, at the bar’s closing party on March 30, as told to Richard Morgan. Rawhide plans to reopen in a new location later this year.

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