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The Baltimore Eagle gay bar on Charles Street set to reopen April 19 under new management

The Baltimore Eagle gay bar on Charles Street set to reopen April 19 under new management
The Baltimore Eagle, pictured here in 2017, will be reopening on April 19. (Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

The Baltimore Eagle, the former gay leather bar in Old Goucher, will reopen April 19 as a “safe space” where members of the LGBTQ community will be able to “feel free,” according to its new owners.

The news ends months of uncertainty and cryptic messages as to the fate of the popular night club and bar.

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“The whole team thinks we just need to open,” said Chris Jay, the events and marketing manager for the establishment. Jay said the bar already has its liquor license and recently passed it health inspection last week. The operator of the business, Beth Cooper, is a former member of Chase Brexton's accounting department and an IT specialist at AOL. “I think it's more important for us to have the space. We're ready to go. We have everything.”

The Baltimore Eagle is expected to open with all the bells and whistles. Its opening night will feature a performance by Tatianna, a Washington, D.C.-area drag performer, and musician who is best known for competing on the second season of RuPaul's Drag Race and the second season of RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars. The Baltimore Eagle’s opening-night drag show will be hosted by popular Baltimore-based drag performer Brooklyn Heights.

Admission to the show and the entire bar will be completely free that night and weekend, according to Jay.

News of The Baltimore Eagle's return has been welcomed with a positive response — especially on its Facebook page, where potential patrons posted words of encouragement and excitement.

Derek Chavis, a Mount Vernon resident, said that the news of the reopening “restores a little bit of my faith in LGBTQ life in Baltimore.”

The Baltimore Eagle has had a tumultuous past five years.

The bar unexpectedly shuttered in July 2018 after reopening in January 2017, after being closed for close to five years. At the time of its most recent closing, there was internal infighting among its owner and operators. Its current Facebook page on March 1 promised that the club will be opening again — without giving an exact date — saying, “We have a secret. We’re coming.” That post received 110 comments, including a number of snarky jabs. Its most recent post, on March 13, read, “The Eagle Has Risen” and promised a “Soft Opening” on April 19.

The reopening of the Baltimore Eagle comes on the heels of the sale of Grand Central, which is perhaps the city's largest gay nightclub and bar. Grand Central’s new owners, Landmark Partners, plan to turn the space into office and retail space, which would include a dining or bar concept, according to a release. The sale of Grand Central sent immediate ripples through Baltimore’s LGBTQ community.

The Baltimore gay nightlife scene has taken repeated hits in recent years.

Club Hippo, another large gay nightclub located across the street from Grand Central, closed in 2015. That space now houses a CVS drug store. G.A.Y. Lounge, which was open for less than a year on Charles Street, closed in October 2017. And Club Bunns near Lexington Market, which attracted a gay black clientele, closed in February after 30 years in business.

Chavis added that his hope is for new spaces to replace closed ones so that “Baltimore can always continue to not only serve its LGBTQ community but also expand their views on what being a member of the community looks like.”

Jay promises an establishment that will be centered around the leather community while also welcoming other LGBTQ groups.

“It will have the same clientele as the last iteration of the Baltimore Eagle,” Jay said. “We are trying to create more events and more things that will be more inclusive to our community so that everyone can find a space at the Eagle.”

Jay said that the main tavern area of the establishment will be a “mixing bowl” that will offer everything from karaoke to watch parties for RuPaul's Drag Race.

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The upstairs club area will host drag performances, burlesque shows, open poetry nights, out-of-town DJs and “big parties” and events.

“Everything at that whole building is centered around the leather community,” Jay stressed.

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