So Gay, San Jose
It’s a boy’s playground in San Jose.
There isn’t a shortage of gay nightclubs in the South Bay, even with one that closed recently, only to be reimagined and rise up into the nightlife scene fresh and new again.
Finding the gays is somewhat challenging. It’s not the Castro, Halsted, West Hollywood, the Village or any other city that has a thriving gayborhood. San Jose is a sprawling metropolis without a gay heart until you hit the clubs.
The nightlife is where the heart is, heard pulsating and packing in all the flavor of the South Bay that has been heating up within the past few years.
This is part of the reason why Brix Nightclub shut down at the beginning of December. Like Madonna, it needed to enter a cocoon and re-emerge stronger in a whole new form and image.
The entire club was revamped into The Metropolitan, a supper club-type nightclub with a swanky new name. The Metropolitan is clean with padded white walls and mirrors, large video screens around the bar. New bar equipment and a sound system were unwrapped for its fans the day after Christmas, just in time for a New Year’s Eve celebration.
The drink prices have been lowered while still offering quality liquors, beers and wine at its indoor and patio bars, said Rod Sichisler, one of the club owners, who encourages people to come in and "enjoy themselves."
"It was time to make it a little newer and bring it a little more up to date," said Sichisler, who owns the club with his wife Cindi. "I just thought it would be nice to change the name and give it a new look."
This is the third time in the club’s seven-year history that the couple has reinvented it, but kept it as a gay and welcoming party place for the entire community. The club was briefly Hunter’s before it became Brix in 2007.
Along with the new look and name, the club has a brand new management team. On January 13, Steve Sheehan was introduced as the club’s new manager along with Shannon Abraham, who was introduced as the new assistant manager.
The club attracts a youthful crowd from nearby San Jose State University and young professionals in downtown San Jose. But it’s also eyeing a new crowd that is older, sophisticated and a bit quieter on nights that the club is also a bit more laidback.
New and old fans of the nightclub will find that their favorite Monday night Power Hour remains. Some of the other popular nights with heart-pounding music and hard bodies are back on Friday and Saturday nights. The old favorites have returned, but new sounds will emanate from the building on a few of the other nights. The new staff hopes to attract an older and quieter crowd with evenings filled with cabaret, jazz, live music and other entertainment.
Sichisler said that he and his team are taking advantage of January being a slow month. They are currently in the midst of scheduling a lot of entertainment in the coming months. They plan to pluck their entertainers from the local community before roving out and expanding their search regionally, statewide and beyond.
"We would like it to be a fun and friendly place for everybody," said Sichisler.
That could be the theme for San Jose’s gay nightlife, which has kicked it up a notch while attempting to offer the glam and glitz of a big city club scene close to home.
Here are the other nightlife venues that make San Jose’s LGBT and gay-friendly scene.
With a Splash
On the other side of the Plaza de Cesar Chavez from The Metropolitan is Splash, a snazzy three-level nightclub with two floors, offering a variety of music to dance to and a rooftop patio. On any given night there is something for anyone and everyone, from trivia and Karaoke to drag shows to the high energy parties. Splash also hosts San Jose’s only monthly club for the women, Play, with DJ Rockaway.
Rough and Tumble
It’s all in the name with Renegades. While it initially is described as a "neighborhood bar," a peek inside, the whiff of leather and the sound of Levi’s rubbing together as men walk by instantly lets you know you’ve entered San Jose’s only leather and bear bar. There are a few lesbians and neighborhood straights that come in and out of the bar, but this is a man’s world - if men are what you are looking for.
Just a gay gal or boy looking for friendly place to quench your thirst in the South Bay? There are a couple of neighborhood gay bars that are mellow and just the place to hang out and kick back with your friends on any given night, even in the heart of downtown.
Just across the street from Splash is Mac’s Club, where friends can grab a quick drink. Across town in the west of San Jose is Tinkers Damn. The city’s oldest gay bar is sort of the Cheers of the LGBT community. This downhome bar offers a diverse array of entertainment and music that is more fun with friends than hot hunks. Just like any good gay bar, they have their drag queens all gussied up and ready to put on a show. You won’t want to miss the Divas of Tinkers Damn every Sunday and Monday night. This rollicking show kicks off at 10:45 p.m.
And while not an official gay bar, Lido’s Nightclub is mostly a straight club, but is frequented by an LGBT Vietnamese crowd.
San Jose’s Gay Nightlife:
The Metropolitan (Formerly Brix Nightclub) - 349 South 1st St. (408) 947-1975. www.themetsj.com
Lido’s Nightclub - 30 S 1st St. (408) 298-4318 www.lidonightclub.net
Mac’s Club - 39 Post St. (408) 288-8221. www.macsclub.com
Renegades - 501 W. Taylor St. (408) 275-9902. www.renegadesbar.com
Splash - 65 Post St. (408) 292-2222. www.splashsj.com
Tinker’s Damn - 46 North Saratoga Ave. (408) 243-4595. www.atinkersdamn.com
Heather Cassell is a travel and entertainment writer for the Bay Area Reporter and other publications. To read about queer women’s travel and entertainment, catch Heather and Super G’s drinking, eating and galivanting their way around the world at GirlsThatRoam.com.