San Francisco’s Mission District is home to many things: a still-surviving Latino community, Google buses and plenty of Ellis Act evictions. But, sadly, it soon won’t be home to the area’s iconic gay Latino bar Esta Noche, which announced this week that it’s shutting its doors after an inspired Indiegogo campaign failed to drum up the necessary support to help keep them open.
Emmanuel Hapsis wrote at KQED about what the closing means:
Something about this news feels personal. A bar dedicated to the gay Latino community in what used to be a predominantly Latino neighborhood is wiped away for a vaguely pornographic-sounding cocktail lounge for fancy straight people who like house music. It’s a slap in the face, like when they replaced Cafe Gratitude, the beloved meeting place for vegans, with the American Grilled Cheese Kitchen. More and more, it’s starting to feel like whoever is holding the San Francisco marionette strings is trolling us all.
Why is the closing of Esta Noche so personal? I grew up as a first-generation closeted gay kid stuck in an all-white Catholic school. When I first discovered Selena, I became obsessed with herjoie de vivre and her dedication to being exactly who she was. She was proud of her heritage, a feeling I hadn’t come to yet. I kept all of this secret from the kids at school; their mocking me for not taking the same communion was enough. The idea that there was a place where you could be exactly who you are and jam out to Selena was inconceivable to me.
Hapsis also posted this video of the bar’s popular Selena drag night: