The Other Side: Silver Lake Piano Bar Closes After 40 Years

piano_shutterstock.jpg
Hands playing piano via Shutterstock

By Amanda Schwartz

After over 40 years in business, Silver Lake piano bar and mainstay of the Los Angeles gay community The Other Side closed its doors for a final time Sunday.

Located on Hyperion Avenue, the bar is the subject of filmmaker Jane Cantillon’s 2006 documentary The Other Side: A Queer History, which chronicles experience of the bar’s long time patrons as they faced raids by Los Angeles Police Department officers in the 1960s. Along with the Flying Leap Café, the bar’s sister establishment, the space will now be making way for Hyperion Public, a gastropub.

Many patrons lament the disappearance of another mainstay of Silver Lake’s gay community. For his blog Greg in Hollywood, Greg Hernandez interviewed some of the bar’s longtime patrons, including real estate agent Eric Toro of Eagle Rock. “I hate to see it close. It’s been a fun place to party, a fun place to be with friends. There’s almost no place to go in Silver Lake, period. There’s a great deal more acceptance in straight bars but I still don’t feel comfortable reaching around and hugging my husband and kissing him in another bar. It causes too many eyebrows to be raised. So it’s the end of an era for me and it’s certainly a cultural place that’s going away,” he told Hernandez.

Owner Paul Hargis, posted a note outside the bar:

It is with warm reflection that I pass along the bittersweet news of the closing of The Other Side and Flying Leap Cafe on June 24, 2012. Both have achieved landmark status in their own right, and each has had a real impact on the exciting Silver Lake food and entertainment scene over the past fifteen years. It also marks the end of an era for one of the longest continuously open piano bars in Los Angeles, with its original roots back to the late 1960s.

Hargis said the main factor in his decision to close the business was retirement, rather than a decline in business. Although he said he spent the past four years looking for a buyer who would maintain the concept, he found no takers. "As the solo owner with another full-time job out of state, I was not able to keep up with the challenges of ... owning a bar and restaurant in this city from a distance," he told the LA Weekly.


Although the atmosphere cannot be recreated, the Showroom at The French Market Place in West Hollywood will be hosting a number of The Other Side’s piano players on the nights they used to play at the bar, says KPCC.

Just this past November, Le Barcito, another fixture of Silver Lake’s gay community and a historic-cultural landmark, also shuttered its doors.