Days ago a popular West Hollywood gathering spot, Rage, announced that its doors would shutter permanently after their lease expires in November. Rage has been a staple on the Santa Monica Boulevard strip in the gayborhood since 1983. Its closure is the end of an era for the institution, one that saw the queer community through the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis. Over the years Rage’s patronage fluctuated. Those who frequent WeHo know that what once was the most popular spot in WeHo had become a place for nostalgia and intimate gatherings with friends.
The news comes just weeks after the owners of Flaming Saddles also announced the iconic nightclub would be closing down as they had been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In July, Gym announced its closure with a Facebook video. Gym was a popular WeHo sports bar for the last decade.
In early August, major anxiety was caused over Micky’s, the premiere spot for drag shows and Drag Race girl sightings. The nightclub placed the words “And the band played on” on its marquee, which led many people to question if the establishment was the next casualty in the COVID-19 crisis. Luckily, management cleared up some confusion and let the community know that it was not, in fact, closing, but that it relies solely on the support of the LGBTQ+ community to keep its doors open. The message was a call-to-action to WeHo goers.
Over 60 West Hollywood establishments are set for outdoor dining expansion, which could save a lot of safe havens. The State of California recently adopted a new color-coded tier system as the Blueprint for a Safer Economy which helps place where in the path to re-opening a county is based on their percentage of cases per 100,000 residents. Los Angeles County is still in the first tier, Purple, which indicates there is still widespread risk throughout the county with a 4.3% positivity rate. If the county can get to the next tier, Red (Substantial), restaurants and retail establishments could be allowed to re-open indoors with modified service. Bars without food wouldn’t be able to open with modifications until the third tier, Orange (Moderate) which means the percentage positivity rate for COVID-19 would have to be 2%.
For now, those who want to support WeHo, consider ordering food to go, if they offer it, or grab a meal at outdoor dining locations. If going out is not your thing right now, that’s okay too, consider buying gift cards that you could spend on yourself or friends when it is safe to go back into the boy pond or buy some merch. And if you can’t do that, be an advocate and send customers their way in hopes that their doors will be open when COVID-19 is a thing of the past.