Don Thompson
February 10, 2006

 

LEATHER BAR BEER BUSTS

Throughout the eighties and most of the nineties, the Sunday beer bust at The Eagle bars in San Francisco and New York was THE place to be. In SF the event was presented each week by a variety of people - bike clubs, titleholders and various charities and the aim was always to raise funds for charity, particularly the AIDS related organizations. Of course the presenters werenít always leather people or groups, the Imperial Court often presented fund raisers there too, but since half the drag queens were also leather people it worked out fine. Anyone of whom the management approved (it had to be for a charity of some kind) could arrange a date, usually at least a year in advance.

The admission fee was usually about $7 and for that the patron could have unlimited beer and a meal which was cooked on the spot (the bar had a large fire-pit). Eventually the Alcohol Beverage Control tried to put a top to this. Their reason was that people were drinking far too much and hazardous driving afterwards was a concern. The problem was that people didnít have to go up to the bar to get a drink, volunteers toured the bar constantly with pitchers of beer topping up everyoneís cups (I did this myself for years). This is what the ABC objected to, as well as the actual name "beer bust."

Their announcement was made and immediately all the charities and groups objected vehemently. After all, the beer busts were the main source of income for these charities; without that income AIDS patients would be deprived of assistance. A meeting was called at San Francisco City Hall and the ABC representative presented his case to the Board of Supervisors. After he had finished dozens of people asked to speak and did so, pleading to be allowed to continue putting on these events. The result of all this was that the ABC agreed that the events could continue, but they had to be called "Beverage Benefits" and there were to be no more volunteers pouring beer in the crowd, the people had to go up to the bar and stand in line and be served by a bartender. Of course, people drank a lot less beer when it meant that they had to make their way through a huge crowd and stand and wait in a long line. So the ABCís objective was achieved.

So, here in the desert we now also have "Beverage benefits," and not only on Sundays. Of course the Barracks Bar Sunday beverage benefit is a must-attend for visitors to town, and itís not a fund raiser, not even for the bar. Selling beer at $1 a cup doesnít cover the expenses of running a bar, really.

Friday nights seem to be the night of choice for charities and organizations to have their benefits. The first Friday of the month finds the Palm Springs Leather Order of the Desert having their benefit at the ToolShed. The cover charge is $5 for a cup and after that a fill-up of beer costs .25cents a time. The fourth Friday of the month there is devoted to the Gay Veterans. On the other two Fridays beer costs $1 for draft.

At the Barracks thereís a benefit every Friday. First Friday is usually for the softball league. Second Friday is for the Palm Spring Boys of Leather who devote the income to charities of their choice. The third Friday is set aside for the West Coast Rubber group, to raise funds to present their annual Contest and rubber weekend. This year, as last, it will be on Labor Day weekend. See their web site at www.westcoastrubber.com. The fourth Friday finds the Palm Springs division of the Boots and Breeches club in charge. This is a club for all who are interested in uniforms of various kinds and if you are turned on by a man in uniform that is the place to be. Beverage benefits begin at 9m generally, though those at the ToolShed begin at 10pm. and continue till midnight. See you there?