August 27, 2010 at 6:21 pm EST | by Joey DiGuglielmo
Town woos bears with pizza, draft beer

The local bear crowd that used to gather every Friday night at EFN Lounge/Motley Bar has unofficially settled on Town as its new home.

Though the group has no established leadership, former Motley bartender Nicholas Baatz negotiated with Town owner Ed Bailey to have the group gather there. Green Lantern and Cobalt also made efforts to woo the bears but Town has had the largest turnout the last two Fridays.

“Without a doubt, Town is the new space,” said Kevin Smiffy, a bear happy hour regular. “I went to all three places the first week. I know [Green Lantern owner] Greg [Zehn]. He’s a good friend so I kind of owed it to him to stop by but there were maybe 20 people there as opposed to a couple hundred at Town. Town, by far, was the place to be.”

But doesn’t Green Lantern’s vibe suit the Bear crowd better?

“You would think on paper it seems that way,” Smiffy said. “But Green Lantern isn’t really conducive to bear happy hour because it’s two levels and the upstairs really isn’t that big. Town is one big open space with the bar against the wall. Yes, it’s more posh and not what you think a bear would be into, but who knows?”

Bailey said he and Baatz discussed that concern.

“I think they had some questions about whether or not we would even be interested,” Bailey said. “They perceived the image of our business, I guess, and didn’t know if we would even want their crowd there. It was a little bit of an eye opener for us because evidently some people think of us as a twink bar, which we aren’t. I mean, yes, we have our fair share of twinks, but I wouldn’t call us that though some have that perception. But yes, we’re excited to have them and it’s been a fantastic showing so far.”

Bailey says about 250 attended Aug. 20 and about 350 last week. Several provisions were made. Ordinarily Town doesn’t open until 10 on Friday nights but opens now at 6 on Fridays for the bears. They stay downstairs and Baatz arranged to bring their own DJ. Bailey provides pizza — they went through 30 extra-large pizzas last week. Bailey also installed draft beer kegs which Town didn’t previously have. Bud Lite and Shock Top are on tap. And rail drinks and bottled beers are sold for $2 cheaper than usual.

Bailey even instructed the drag troupe, which goes on at 10, to alter its first few numbers to find things that would appeal to the bears so they’d stick around.

“Everything’s been well worth it,” Bailey said. “It’s been delightful.”

Joey DiGuglielmo is the Features Editor for the Washington Blade.

  • Haha-this is so funny. I love all the news about where the bears will go! I’m happy they have found a new comfortable home, with plenty of space, cheap beer, free pizza, and delicious twinks. Sounds perfect!

  • Also we share the room with dragg queens and tweaks.That’s cool!

  • It’s so nice to be welcomed by Ed at Town. He has been a strong supporter of the community for a long time and an unsung hero. Look at all he has done to make the bears feel welcome and to have a home. I know there was some controversy about Cobalt and unfortunately the Cobalt folks are trying to re-write history…but readers don’t forget that Cobalt NEVER advertised Bear Happy Hour as they were afraid that it would lower the reputation of Cobalt and scare the twinks away. The bartenders and door staff were somewhat rude and unfriendly. Overall it made the Bear crowd just feel unwelcomed. Why else did they feel the need to move to EFN? If they were happy at Cobalt and welcomed, they wouldn’t have moved.

  • Michael, I am glad that the Bears feel comfortable at Town. Reading your comments, it amazes me how some people refuse to acknowledge that racism is displayed as well by club owners/workers. If they made the bears feel unwelcomed, just imagine what they (and other bars) do to make minorities feel unwelcome. Racist Gays! What a way of life.

  • Okay being that I am cluesless…what does a guy have to be to others recognizing him as a Bear(which by the way is cool)?…. From the picture above it seems everyone is having a great time…Its also a good thing that the bar has been accepting of these guys, no time for racism within the gay community.

  • If anyone can answer….What does a guy have to be to
    others recognizing him as a bear?

    • Since there’s no One True Bear Magisterium to give the definitive answer, the answer varies widely from bear to bear. Some insist on certain physical characteristics, like a stocky build and a hairy chest, while others welcome just about anyone with the right bear attitude.

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