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SAN DIEGO -- San Diego’s North Park neighborhood has one less gay bar with the closure of Bacchus House, a once popular dance club and bar, which shut its doors for good Sunday night.
The bar, which opened with much excitement in 2001, brought the first gay dance club to North Park, the trendy neighborhood immediately east of San Diego’s gayborhood of Hillcrest.
North Park has been home to a handful of other gay bars for many years, such as the Eagle and Redwing Bar & Grill, which are still attracting crowds, and the now-closed Rebar (previously known as Wolf’s). Bacchus House was the only video and dance bar, however.
Over the near-decade of its existence, the hot spot with a Roman-themed decor hosted numerous theme nights, shows and charity events.
Marcel Hetu, who is a popular DJ in many of San Diego’s night spots, including Rich’s, Numbers and Bourbon Street, had his first residency at Bacchus House.
“Bacchus House has really done a lot of good work within our community,” noted Hetu, who said that he is sad to see the venue close.
It was common for Bacchus House to donate its space for benefit shows and events that supported a host of charities, including numerous shows hosted by The Imperial Court de San Diego.
Local drag entertainer Coco Trinity LaDiva hosted a benefit show in September at Bacchus House, along with the 38th Reign of the Imperial Court, where she was able to raise money for the Queen Eddie Youth Fund.
Coco said she was pleased to be able to use the venue to celebrate her 26th birthday and raise funds for such an important cause.
The San Diego Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence recently hosted a fundraiser at Bacchus House's popular Bear Nite and raised $547 for Mama’s Kitchen by selling Jell-O shots.
Over the past couple of years, Bear Nite had become a very popular event for the club. Held every first Saturday of the month, the event catered to those men who identified as bears and had drink specials, music, bear dancers and other surprises that kept the crowds coming.
Jack, a local systems technician, loved going to Bacchus House on its Bear Nites.
“Before the Bear Nite opened at Bacchus, I had never even been to the bar,” Jack said.
“But after my friends dragged me there about a year ago, I was hooked!”
“The space was a little more intimate than Rich’s, but still had a packed crowd, good vibes, and was a change of scenery to head down to Norht Park - I’ll miss it.”
Bacchus House, which originally had just one room, expanded shortly after its’ opening to include a video bar with pool tables in the front room, and a large dance club and bar in the back, with an attached indoor/outdoor smoking area.
The club underwent a renovation recently to update and modernize the look and feel.
Besides, Bear Nite, the club had many other well-known theme nights over the years.
Latino theme nights were a hit at Bacchus House, which at one point hosted three such nights a week.
Popular entertainer Franceska hosted the Wednesday night “Musica y Pasion Latina” for many years, and from that success the club was able to add additional Latino theme nights on Fridays, known as Papacito, and Sundays, known as Fiesta Domingo.
For many years, the club also hosted the popular Thursday night “It’s Raining Men” wet underwear show hosted by entertainer Coco LaChine.
LaChine returned to Bacchus House during this year’s San Diego Pride weekend in July to host a special “It’s Raining Men Reunion” show.
Anthony, who was a go-go dancer at Bacchus House in 2003, recalls having a lot of fun working at the club.
“I used to dance at the Wednesday Latino Night, and Thursday Raining Men night, and always had a blast,” Anthony said.
“The place was always packed, Franceska’s drag show was hilarious, and at the time, it was the new, hot place to hang out.”
Anthony, who is now 30 years old and working in a professional career, says that he is sad to see Bacchus House close.
“I worked with some great people there,” Anthony said.
Hetu agrees. “DJ’ing at Bacchus House was really like being a part of a family - I built many life-long friendships there,” Hetu said.
Sydney Pierre, who hosts karaoke at Redwing Bar & Grill on 30th Street, says the closure of Bacchus House is loss to the North Park scene.
“Bacchus House had a way of keeping Latin culture alive in North Park,” Pierre said.
“They always had great music, great DJ’s and always a fun time.”
The owners and management of Bacchus House have not made any formal comment yet, so the reason for the closure is unknown at this time. The sorry state of the economy has affected numerous bars and restaurants in San Diego, and closures have become commonplace.