The Other Side, L.A.'s last gay piano bar, will shutter
on Sunday after over 40 years in business. It has gone by several names and owners, but was long thought of as a place where folks could get a cheap drink while a lively songster tickled the ivories and took requests. Regulars and well-wishers are expected to gather at the Silver Lake establishment en masse tomorrow on its final night Sunday to perform karaoke and send it off.
Tucked behind the Flying Leap Café (a conjoined sister establishment also set to close) The Other Side is easy to miss, around a corner and up a ramp. The place is small and dimly lit, with old fixtures and aging patrons. Somehow, the local hipsters didn't cotton to it enough to keep it going.
Paul Hargis, the owner for the past 15 years, says declining business was less of a factor in the bar's closing than his desire to retire. “As the solo owner with another full-time job out of state, I was not able to keep up with the challenges of … owning a bar and restaurant in this city from a distance,” he says, adding that he's spent the past three years trying to find a buyer who would maintain the concept, to no avail. Thus, both The Flying Leap and The Other Side will cede to a new gastropub called Hyperion Public, which will open later this summer.
“I worry about the people who have been coming for the past 30 or 40 years,” says one regular interviewed outside the pub, adding that the local club scene isn't welcoming to those looking for a low-key place to meet interesting people.
“It is so shocking, especially for the older men who really don't know where they are going to go yet, ” says Jane Cantillon, director of an upcoming documentary about the establishment called The Other Side, a Queer History, the trailer for which is above.
Cantillon says the bar's location represents a bygone era. “The gay population slowly, quietly migrated to the West Side,” she told Off-Ramp, “to unincorporated West Hollywood, where the Sheriff's Department wasn't as cruel or harsh.”
Please share your favorite memories of The Other Side in the comments section, below. We hope to see you tomorrow.
Correction: Due to an editing mistake, this post originally said The Other Side's last day was Saturday, June 23, when in fact it was Sunday, June 24.