Since its earliest days, Metro Weekly set aside two pages for a map and listings toward the magazine’s back. Long before the ubiquitous Google Maps, ensconced on our cell phones, told us “in 400 feet, turn left,” the magazine’s map was a crucial part of its makeup, helping both locals and tourists locate not only gay bars, but gay-friendly restaurants and retail establishments.
There were a number of years when the map was what might be called “reader-hostile” — an indecipherable yet decidedly artistic clamor. It was later supplanted by a far more direct, reader-friendly topography, only to be replaced in more recent years by a simple list of venues with QR Codes alongside their names.
When one sifts through years of the map, it’s astonishing to see just how many gay nightspots we have lost, some for reasons beyond their control (curse you Nationals Park — we enjoyed our nights at La Cage!), others because their time had simply come (farewell, Tracks). But even more astonishing are those places that have persevered and are still going strong — JR.’s, Annie’s, Ziegfeld’s/Secrets, the DC Eagle (temporarily on hiatus), Phase 1, the Green Lantern, the Fireplace, to name a few. These are the places we frequented in 1994. Twenty years later, we still do, along with relative newcomers like Town, Nellie’s, PW.’s, Number Nine and Freddie’s Beach Bar.
What follows is a selection of 20 places that, for whatever reason, closed their doors. Over the years, they played host to our lives. Now, they play host to our fondest memories. We miss them all.