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Friday, February 03, 2017

The Eagle is Back!

Written by  Bill Redmond-Palmer

After a wait that seemed to many like forever, the Baltimore Eagle Night Club and Bar has finally opened. Their first night drew close to 600 people, with lines around the block. What they found, was like nothing you’ve ever seen in Baltimore.

While the Eagle continues to proudly serve its traditional leather, Levi, bear, fetish, and BDSM clientele, this Eagle has spaces, events, and fun for everyone. It fills both the need for spaces that feed people’s unique identities, as well as spaces that create opportunities to be in unity and community. That breadth of inclusion, makes this, the first queer community bar and nightclub to open in Baltimore in decades, a unique space.

The owners of the Eagle building and its brand name are Ian Parrish and his father, Charles Parrish, local real estate developers and owners of a local real-estate school. Charles has the claim to fame of being one of the first patrons of the Eagle when it first opened. Charles’s mother, Emma (a.k.a. Bunny Holiday) was a well-known burlesque performer who used to sing with Billie Holliday at the Gaiety and on other Baltimore, New York, and D.C. stages, making his personal story as intriguing as the Eagle itself.

“We could never have done this without the support of Ian and Charles,” said Chuck King, manager of the Eagle. “They really worked to preserve the space, and I’m very happy we found each other.”

Over the past months, the community has supported the Eagle’s opening, but the city has not, most especially the Liquor Board, who gave a very clear perception of arbitrary bias, contributing in large part to the delays in opening. The owners have filed a complaint with the Maryland Court of Special Appeals and are optimistic while they await a final ruling.

The entrance to the Eagle has been restored to its original location on Charles Street, and is now handicap-accessible. The entrance leads into the Eagle Tavern, featuring a bar, picture windows, and restaurant seating.

The Code Bar, also on the first floor, is a throwback to the early days of leather, as a garage-styled old-school leather bar. Worn concrete floors, rubber tires, dark corners, and low light all contribute to a milieu that lends itself to cruising daddies, leather studs, and the fetish men and women of the region. Dress code is enforced during certain hours on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and access is restricted to those wearing appropriate leather or fetish gear. Exceptions may be made for those not in proper attire, but who are willing to remove their shirts.

The Nest is a “Moulin Rouge”-inspired multi-purpose event and entertainment space on the second floor. It features its own adjacent bar as well as the Eagle’s catering kitchen. This reporter felt he was transported into a French cabaret. The Nest features a complete stage with dressing room, ideal for shows and contests, as well as professional digital video projection and sound equipment. When the space is set up for dance parties, the walls are lined with stools and bar tables, however it can be converted into a cabaret-style space with tables and chairs that can seat 160 people. The Nest will be home to dance parties featuring the Montreal and European dance music scene, and possibly the occasional “Hippo Retro Dance Party.”

Eagle Eats, scheduled to open in the next couple weeks, will be a full-service restaurant, offering everything from burgers to sliders, and salads to fish. The food service will be led by Ed Scholly, a European-trained German-certified Master Chef with 26 years of experience. Chef Scholly has served pop stars, four U.S. presidents, the Queen of England, the Dalai Lama, and other dignitaries around the world.

The Eagle Leather & Fetish Shop, on the second floor, is scheduled to open around the same time as Eagle Eats. The shop will also display and sell fetish and erotic art by local artists and plans to offer classes on fetish interests.

Eagle Wine & Spirits, will be a package good store with a streetfront entrance where the old entrance to the Eagle and coat check used to be. An opening date has not yet been set, but work is well under way.

Once completed, the Eagle will feature outdoor spaces as well. On the ground floor, a large private space, will include a full bar, a large community table, planters, benches, and a covered section that can be used during the winter, thanks to a fire trough. A second floor deck adjacent to the Nest will have steps leading to the ground-level patio.

Even with all those amenities, there is still more to come. Recently the owners purchased the dentist offices next door, with plans for that space still under wraps. The Parrishes are also considering building a first-of-its kind in Baltimore hotel, on property they own directly across from the Eagle.

One of the reasons Ian Parrish says he wanted to buy the Eagle was the goodwill it had built over the years. “Since 1991, the Eagle has hosted benefits for HIV/AIDS awareness, research and testing programs, services for the elderly, and other deserving charities,” Parrish said. “Now that we are hopefully moving past the fight for equal treatment by the Baltimore City Liquor Board, it’s time to consider new outreach opportunities. We are proud to be involved with Baltimore Pride 2017, thanks to our manager Chuck King, and we are considering several other worthy causes on which to focus our service efforts.”

The Eagle has several regularly scheduled weekly and monthly themed events. Every Friday night is “Baltimore Bear Friday” and every Saturday night is “Leather Saturday”; every first Saturday the Nest Nightclub will feature “Backspin: Music from 1980 to 2000,” with DJ Vince Christopher; and every second and fourth Friday the Nest Nightclub will present an evening of drag performances. Some special events coming up at the Eagle include “Cheer,” a Super Bowl party on February 5th; “Cupid’s Kiss,” a Valentine’s Day Party on February 11th; and “Glow,” a fundraiser for Baltimore AIDS Walk featuring go-go dancers and raffles, on March 11th.

The Eagle’s Grand Opening celebration is tentatively scheduled for late February, pending confirmation of some details. “Stay tuned,” said King, “as we have even more new plans in the works.”

To learn more about the Eagle and its upcoming events, visit thebaltimoreeagle.com and Facebook.com/TheBaltimoreEagle.

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