And now, the end was here. And so the Other Side faced its final curtain. Once dubbed the Best Piano Bar in LA, the Silver Lake watering hole is silent after more than a decade. The bar's closing is a watershed moment for local nightlife marking the end of the line for gay piano bars in Los Angeles.
Sunday’s last call was filled with emotion but not tears. This was a wake in its truest definition. With Tommy Dodson at the piano, show tunes, standards, and gospel classics ushered this 40-year-old institution into the afterlife. For one final time, the bar reached capacity, something that didn’t happen every night. Where were all these people previously? I guess some people like post-funeral bashes, to paraphrase The Big Chill. Patrons were treated not just to Mr. Dodson's playing but also to Sonji Kimmons, Thursday night singer/pianist Greg Glienna, and countless regulars who sung their hearts out week after week. A particular thrill was hearing Terri White, who recently appeared in Follies, sing four songs. Her rendition of “Here’s to Life” made the emotion of the evening palpable.
What does the future hold for gay piano bars in Los Angeles? It seems as though the talent that regularly appeared at The Other Side is going to be scattered around Los Angeles as multiple locations try to fill the void. With any luck, some enterprising businessman will realize that even though greater acceptance of homosexuality may create less of a regular need to congregate in our own bars, the desire to celebrate in song will never fade away.
[Photo by darrenleno/Flickr]