Frolic ‘the original furry nightclub’ to lose historic venue – community responds.
by Patch O'Furr
- 48 Hills: 50-year-old gay bar The Stud faces closure as rent triples
- SFist.com: Saving The Stud
- HUGE 4 part interview about Frolic with it’s founder, Neonbunny.
The future is as dim as the lighting at The Stud, one of San Francisco’s most loved dive/gay bars. The property is being swept up in a wave of real estate speculation and gentrification that shows no sign of ebbing. Some luminaries of local culture are just treading water, while many are sinking under. They just can’t afford to live in their own city any more.
One by one, the lights of San Francisco night life are going out. Now the Stud is set to close.
On every second Saturday each month, furries flock there for Frolic dance party. It’s the premiere event for their thriving local scene. The venue loves furries as much as they love each other, so Frolic has been steadily supported since 2010. Their success bore a litter of furry club events across North America that look up to it for inspiration, from Foxtrot in Denver, to Suit-Up Saturday in Minneapolis.
Calling it “the Original” furry dance party may be debatable (credit may be due for a few rave-type events outside of North America) – but there’s no debating its influence. It will be very sad if Frolic loses it’s home.
It’s a local story, but in spirit, it touches furries anywhere who love to dance and have their own paw-hold in the nightlife. Having their own established club doesn’t happen easily for an isolated niche of maligned yet super loveable young people. Frolic set the bar high for that. It isn’t your average family-friendly daytime convention – its power comes after dark. Talking animal-people look and feel better to dance with in the magical murk of a club from an alternate fantasy dimension. Have a drink and hug one for an experience better than drugs. Or pick one up. Say: “knock knock” – “who’s there”? – “knot me…”
Frolic is only one among many other events at The Stud, from drag and burlesque to gay goth/industrial nights. Each carry on San Francisco’s fabled bohemian past, that’s now often lost and neglected under a chromed tech future. Lady Gaga, Bjork and Matthew Barney are on a long list of past performers and patrons of note. The Stud is one of the oldest gay bars in San Francisco, standing proud among a handful left from the old days when a whole swathe of the city was wilder than today. It’s more than a bar, it’s a place to find yourself.
Shiny new condo development has been looming in a former vacant lot right outside the building. For a while, there’s been whispering about it bringing in a potential horde of residents ready to make noise complaints that would quickly get the place shut down. Just recently, I talked to bartenders Brian and Bernadette, and they said they had a long term lease and were safe. This news was a shock.
All isn’t lost yet. There’s talk of a community co-op coming together to buy the building. Maybe they could set up an Indiegogo fund, and charge a monthly membership due. Would that be enough? Maybe it still wouldn’t save the building from condo complaints. However, in the 1980’s The Stud actually had moved locations and stayed strong, so the past shows power to carry on. There’s also a “historic business” card to play with SF’s politicians. If none of that succeeds, maybe Frolic could move to DNA Lounge or the Eagle (nearby venue that has a pup play night.) Some places in Oakland could be good to try.
Other communities come together to save boring old houses because some dead president slept there. I love that this gathers a living, thriving community around an old gay bar. While waiting to find out if it can be saved, there’s a pervasive sense of unfairness and loss among furries and friends. We’ll just have to wait and see.
SF Examiner (June 26, previous to this news:) A golden legacy among gay bars
McElhaney considers The Stud to be one of The City’s “Last bastions of freakdom… We’re a rare breed that’s disappearing.” One anniversary party guest was a sabertooth cat who stole the dancefloor. The owner knows him. “He’s a lovely freak,” McElhaney said.
The furry party Frolic, every second Saturday, is the only regularly-occurring furry party in San Francisco.
“I think people walk in and they’re just like, ‘Oh, I’m home, I’m here.’ They hear about an event we have going and they go, ‘Wow, this is totally different than any other gay bar I’ve been in,’” McElhaney said.
Welcome, SFist readers! Furry Community Responds To Possible Closing Of The Stud, Their Monthly Gathering Place