Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Night they Closed Ol' Dixie Down

What's with it that so many legendary establishments are closing this weekend? Well, two to be exact, so that does not establish a serious trend, but it is interesting and a little disturbing to those of us who detest change.

On the heels of the Brookside Dime Store (June 29th) comes the definitive word that one of the oldest and most established gay bars in town, the legendary and literally world famous Dixie Belle will close on July 2. A virtual icon in the community, especially among the leather and Levi community, the bar is open this weekend but according to their news release they will "drink the place dry" on Sunday.

I personally know several people who met their partners at the DB as it was usually called. Many a newly out gay boy got their eyes (and dare I say other things...) opened by the activity in the somewhat (ok really) sleazy down stairs. Leather men strutted, businessmen closed deals, relationships for a night or a lifetime formed, closeted, lonely men could be their true selves for a night, drag queens, men stripped to a leather jock carrying a whip, it was all there on display. The Sunday beer bust was a great way to spend some time with cheap beer, good conversation and a chance to meet up with a wide spectrum of the community.

I had not been there in a while, and there in may lie a reason for its closing. Demographics change; we are getting older and the thought of hanging around the DB till all hours of the night has lost its attraction, newer more intimate bars attract the younger "upscale" crowd and with a proliferation of more successful bars the DB is no longer the only place in town.

The DB was a pioneer in the upper midtown section of KC, once just old commercial buildings and the Hereford House Restaurant. Now, the Crossroads district makes the property and location quite valuable. There are no announced plans for the building. It moved across the street from its old location a few years ago. The old location is now a fancy restaurant.

I wonder if those enjoying their filet en croute there realize someone may have had their first gay sex experience at the very location of their elegant table? Maybe it was one of the diners, who knows?!

The gay community will survive, other bars will get a bit more business as loyalties move. But for some, the world will never be the same.

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