Controversial SF bar is reborn after closing for good

The Castro video bar Badlands was boarded up after closing in 2020, however now it’s again open for enterprise.

Screenshot by way of Google Road View

After completely closing initially of the pandemic, Castro video dance bar Badlands reopened Oct. 4 underneath new administration.

On Sept. 10, the storied homosexual bar posted an announcement on its Fb web page that it will reopen at 4121 18th St. and referred to as for bartenders to use. It was the bar’s first publish since 2020, when it shared that it was shuttering completely. On Wednesday, a Hoodline reporter posted photographs of a full dance ground and bar on X, previously referred to as Twitter.


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Badlands had been open for 45 years when it closed in 2020. After opening in 1973 as Watergate West with a loosely Western theme, the bar was rechristened Badlands in 1975, in line with SFist. In 1999, actual property mogul Les Natali bought the bar and transformed it right into a dance bar.

In its most up-to-date iteration, Badlands was recognized for its low-cost drink specials, often providing two-for-one cocktails. The institution additionally featured a dance ground surrounded by wall-mounted TVs, which performed movies for dancers, and a disco ball on the ceiling. The partitions have been lined in outdated license plates. 

However Badlands is maybe greatest recognized for its historical past of controversy. Within the early 2000s, the bar and Natali have been tormented by allegations of racist practices. In 2005, a San Francisco Human Rights Fee investigation discovered that Natali and the bar had discriminated in opposition to Black clients and job candidates. A later California Division of Alcoholic Beverage Management investigation cleared Natali of the allegations, however some would-be patrons stay unconvinced.

“That bar has all the time been rubbish and owned by a racist dickwad,” one X person posted in reference to Badlands on Thursday, the day after it reopened.


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Natali has additionally earned notoriety as a landlord for evicting widespread tenants and leaving a minimum of one Castro storefront empty for greater than a decade. 

Whereas Badlands remained closed, Natali spent months negotiating with nightclub proprietor and new Badlands co-owner TJ Bruce, Hoodline reported. In response to Hoodline, Bruce shall be taking over 50% possession of the bar. It’s unclear in what capability Natali shall be concerned. Badlands didn’t return a request for remark in time for publication. 

Bruce owns nightclubs in Seattle, San Jose, Fresno and Modesto. He additionally owns Badlands places in Portland and Sacramento. Prior to buying a stake in San Francisco’s Badlands, he was a longtime advisor for the enterprise.

Badlands appears a bit totally different from earlier than, Hoodline reported. The dance ground is surrounded by floor-to-ceiling mirrors, and the ceiling is decrease. The license plates that after adorned the partitions are absent — a minimum of for now. 


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