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Bars: The Evolution

By Cory David, Mr. Eagle Wilton Manors 2020/2021

Today’s leather culture evolution started in the 1950’s biker clubs/bars. In the beginning Levi™, leather, and uniform, was the norm with today embracing old and new guards alike. In my November 2020 article about history, I only touched base on the influence of the bars.

With the subculture emerging, so did the establishments, pioneering the bar versions of motorcycle clubs. As the popularity rises, so do the number of venues to support the movement. The 1950’s bars started opening, with Chicago’s Gold Coast being the first in 1958, followed by The Tool Box in San Francisco in 1961.

The culture in full throttle, a Life Magazine™ article would bring attention to the movement, opening a world for many closeted and isolated gay men. Mystery novel turned movie, Cruising, depicted aspects of our subculture giving bars intriguing attention.

The community grew and as our human right for equality gained strength, the birth of social activism formed, leading the fight. Today they still have the same purpose, from monthly events, a night of dancing, meeting your next true love, or hosting fundraisers for every cause you can name.

Our two leather bars in South Florida are a substantial part of the community, a history of who we are, the meeting place, the social event, and the comfort of family. Following the traditions of the past with the challenges of today, if it’s a cause or fundraiser for children, equality, or to celebrate, I never heard “no.” A personal thank you to both Eagle Wilton Manors and Ramrod Bar, both good friends to have in your corner.

Ramrod Bar, a pillar for 27 years, is our own piece of Southern Decadence and home of Levi™, leather and uniform, exposing its Old Guard style. It’s a dimly lit necessary evil with a “space” around every corner. The afternoon gang or the late night cruising energy, it’s a place to be seen or blend into shadows. You deserve the experience. Manager, Kevin Wright, first worked at 501 Eagle Indianapolis and is very embedded in tradition. They never disappoint with Ramrod Bar being home to the Cigar Social and monthly Pig Dance. Both bars were my first leather bars some 25 years ago.

Eagle Wilton Manors, established in 2019, is drenched in Eagle traditions. Exciting energy at any vantage point and driving a leather momentum, it transforms you to euphoria. Eagle Wilton Manors features multiple bars, a leather shop, inviting dance floor, numerous events, and incredible shows, including Starlet Skye’s Sunday Service. This isn’t Chuck King’s first time at the leather-rodeo, making the experience special for everyone. Many clubs and organizations call Eagle Wilton Manors home, proving its position alongside Ramrod Bar.

When we look to history, when we remember the places that allowed us to be ourselves, when we revisit the past and live in the present, we feel the companionship of our community. I have never felt judged, faulted, or shamed. I only felt love, and as an outsider of the time, a “deviant” as some have said, I remember what I felt was unconditional love.