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You know a neighborhood is officially gentrifying once the gays move in. After years of steadily restoring itself from a sprawling mass urinal back into a thriving center of culture and commerce, ...
By Mike Ciriaco
April 1, 2014 :: 7:29 PM
You know a neighborhood is officially gentrifying once the gays move in. After years of steadily restoring itself from a sprawling mass urinal back into a thriving center of culture and commerce, Downtown Los Angeles has hit a milestone in its burgeoning renaissance—it’s getting a gay bar.
Brian McIntire and Thor Stephens, a connubial gay party promotion team, is currently renovating the space on the corner of Broadway and 4th Street. It’s the future home of Precinct, a Prohibition Era police station-themed tavern anticipated to launch this summer. The bar’s construction reflects the neighborhood’s burgeoning queer presence.
“Downtown Los Angeles has a growing gay population, and we hope to provide a welcoming atmosphere for them,” said McIntire during a recent interview. “There are a handful of DTLA establishments that are already hosting weekly events that cater to our community, and we would like to build upon that foundation. It’ll be great to see more Downtown options than only a few specific nights of the week.”
Gay gatherings like Mustache Mondays may draw the gays downtown one night each week, but Precinct is laying roots to provide gays with their very own DTLA clubhouse.
“As is the case with most of the Historic District, the building we are in was constructed just after the turn of the 20th century. Much of the ‘Bringing Back Broadway’ initiative revolves around the concept of returning the neighborhood to its original glory. Personally, we’re fans of the architecture of the era—a time when there was a more open celebration of individual craftsmanship and artistry—less disposable cookie-cuttery.”
Precinct plans to pay homage to Downtown’s LGBT history as much as it does that architectural legacy.
“Much of Downtown L.A.’s gay history is all but forgotten. Back in the ‘50s, Pershing Square was an underground gay neighborhood, and iconic gay bars like The Score have long since closed. We hope to honor the past as well as expand on some of the great things going on Downtown today. Successful parties have already acquainted the gay community with DTLA. We would like to complement and build upon what is already happening without infringing on anyone. We feel that the more there is to do Downtown, the more people will come to play.”
McIntire has no doubts that DTLA’s metamorphosis will attract the often-insular denizens of West Hollywood and Silver Lake.
“As West Hollywood and Silver Lake continue to gentrify, there’s an increasing exodus of gays to Downtown and its surrounding neighborhoods. We’ve adapted to not only gay-friendly/alternative venues, especially when looking for a rock ’n’ roll sensibility, but following promoters, DJs and performers to whichever part of town they’ve made a home for themselves. East Siders have a pretty long history of ‘schlepping’ west to go out—maybe the tide is turning.”
While stereotypes dictate that West Hollywood attracts muscle queens and Silver Lake parties cater to inked-out hipsters, Precinct wants the new DTLA to transcend the cliques of other L.A. neighborhoods.
“One of the clearest lessons learned in the evolution of gay culture has been an embrace of alternatives. As promoters, we’ve always tried to operate on a ‘come as you are, or as you want to be’ approach, and we would like to hang onto that idea,” says McIntire, adding, “We’re hoping to see lots of beards and tattoos, with equal parts glitter, lipstick and leather.”
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
1. Precinct, at 8,500 square feet, will be divided into three public areas—(1) a veranda/patio facing both Broadway and 4th Street, (2) the pub and (3) the performance space.
2. The performance space will be located behind the front bar area, including an open dance floor, a 20-foot stage, DJ booth and separate bar service station.
3. The venue is planned to be an adaptable one, used for dance parties, live music and drag shows.
4. Precinct will cater to the Downtown lunch crowd in its frontspace with a menu curated by Hunter Fox of Eagle L.A.
5. McIntire and Stephens are already hard at work on the bar’s programming, which will likely include parties and one-offs by some of L.A.’s most infamous party promoters.
Coming this summer
Broadway and 4th St., DTLA