Weho gays may one to journey east of La Brea today to pay tribute to LA’s gay history.
The Other Side in Silverlake, the city’s last remaining gay piano bar, is closing after more than 40 years in business. Today is the last day of operation.
The bar located at 2538 Hyperion Avenue (near Griffith Park Boulevard) has gone by several names over the years, but it was always a friendly place for a drink while a player tickled the ivory keys or while gays of various ages tried their skills at karaoke.
The Other Side was the subject of the 2006 documentary The Other Side: A Queer History by filmmaker Jane Cantillon. In that film, longtimers recounted how in the 1960s, Los Angeles Police Department officers used to routinely raid the bar and drag people out simply for being in a gay bar.
Also closing is The Other Side’s sister operation in the building, the ten-year-old restaurant The Flying Leap.
While business has been declining in recent years, Paul Hargis, the owner for the past 15 years, told LA Weekly he was ready to retire.
"As the solo owner with another full-time job out of state, I was not able to keep up with the challenges of ... owning a bar and restaurant in this city from a distance," Hargis told Weekly.
Hargis said he spent the past three years trying to find a buyer who would maintain the piano bar concept to no avail, so he put the establishment on the market last year.
A note outside the bar and restaurant from Hargis reads:
It is with warm reflection that I pass along the bittersweet news of the closing of The Other Side and Flying Leap Cafe on June 24, 2012. Both have achieved landmark status in their own right, and each has had a real impact on the exciting Silver Lake food and entertainment scene over the past fifteen years. It also marks the end of an era for one of the longest continuously open piano bars in Los Angeles, with its original roots back to the late 1960s.
Set to open in the location later this summer is a new sports bar and gastropub called Hyperion Public.
Greg Hernandez wrote a tribute to The Other Side on his Greg in Hollywood website.