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Longtime Gay Dance Club Splash to Close With 10 Days of Parties

By Mathew Katz | July 25, 2013 7:22am
  The bar hosted parties on West 17th Street for 22 years.
Gay Club Splash to Close Aug. 10
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CHELSEA — After 22 years, Splash will have its last dance.

The gay dance club will shut its doors on Aug. 10, after 10 days of disco-ball-filled parties starting on the first of the month.

"For 22 years, it has been a privilege providing you with New York City's most exciting, safe and spectacular gay venue," owner Brian Landeche wrote in a letter posted on Splash's website. "Please join us in our final countdown as we dismount the disco ball with 10 magical farewell celebrations beginning Aug. 1."

One of the earliest gay clubs in the area, Splash sits at 50 W. 17th St., on the border between Chelsea and Flatiron. For decades, its scandalously-named parties like Sexxx Saturdays brought in crowds of excited gay men from the city and around the world — and its rotating selection of shirtless bartenders kept the partiers there.

Landeche, 56, told DNAinfo New York the bar's closure came as a major dynamic in the gay community is shifting, making the club scene less important.

"The way gay men meet other gay men is less and less about having to go to a gay bar. You can meet at the gym, on the Internet, in the workplace," he said.

When Landeche founded the bar in 1992, gay men had far fewer safe places to go to meet one another.

"Places that are exclusive to gay people are less and less necessary," he said. "It was nice to provide that for a long time."

The final 10 days of partying will invite a best-of roster of DJs who have performed there, and Landeche hoped that guests who have not been to the bar in a while can return and relive old memories.

On the last day, guests will have a chance to take home a piece of the bar — including everything from bar stools to bathroom tiles, Landeche said. 

The bar also set up an online form inviting past customers to reminisce about their fondest memories of the club.

For Landeche, those were typically iconic New York moments — like when gay men flocked to the bar during the 2003 blackout.

"A lot of gay guys came to cruise in the dark," he said, laughing.

Splash is the latest gay bar to flee the neighborhood: Rawhide, the leather bar on Eighth Avenue, closed on March 21 due to a staggering rent hike. This year's Folsom East fetish street festival was canceled due to construction, and organizers said that it would likely move outside of Chelsea next year.