A number of cities nationwide have gay bars named Eagle, always an indication that the establishment caters to the leather crowd. The Minneapolis Eagle, which marked its 10th anniversary September 8, certainly fits that description, but unlike its namesakes elsewhere, welcomes a diverse cross section of the local GLBT community.
Minneapolis Eagle owner Ed Hopkins says, “The Eagle has grown considerably through the years. We began as a leather bar with a dress code on Friday and Saturday nights. But I hated seeing people turned away at the door who were not in dress code. I was relieved when we opened the Bolt in 2003 and the Underground in 2004, so people could go that way. We only have one dress code night now: MINESHAFT in the Underground on Fridays after 9 PM. We serve the entire gay community at this point.”
Hopkins adds, “The three bars have many personalities—all of which are elements of gay bars that I enjoy. From the jukebox to the music videos to ShowTunes to Sunday’s beer bust to Friday’s 3-for-1 happy hour to the Underground dance floor, we have wrapped all of these highlights into one place.”
Over the past decade, the Eagle and its siblings have been hugely supportive of the local gay community and beyond, especially helping to raise thousands of dollars for people in need.
As Hopkins shares, “I was very affected by the damage done to New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina. I wanted to do something, and felt that the bar was the best vehicle to help. We partnered with several leather groups, and threw a Mardi Gras-style fund-raiser to benefit three NOLA charities. We raised nearly $9,000 that night.”
This year, the Eagle et al. sponsored four Twin Cities Goodtime Softball League teams: The Penetrators, The Racers, The Stealth, and The Spikes.
Hopkins explains, “I played on the gay softball league for 13 seasons. I have met nearly all of my close friends through the league. I still believe it is one of the best ways to meet people…outside of the Eagle. When I opened the bar, I couldn’t wait to begin sponsoring teams. I still enjoy attending the numerous softball fund-raisers and league events held at the bar every year.”
A host of community fund-raising groups frequent the Eagle, as Hopkins points out: “We have always opened our doors to many organizations who want to raise funds, including the North Star Gay Rodeo Association, the Mayhem Rugby Team, The Atons, the Minnesota Storm Patrol, and the Knights of Leather. We have even had a baby shower and a wedding dance in the bars.”
Ten years is a long time in the history of a bar, and the future of the Eagle, the Bolt, and the Underground looks bright, given the bevy of activities going on throughout the week.
As Hopkins puts it, “The Eagle will continue to create great nights. Our newest and most successful night is Thursdays: A Goth group created “Chamber” in the Underground, which is off to a great start. We also partnered with The Aliveness Project for bingo on Thursdays in the Bolt. Breakfast on Saturday and Sunday mornings has become a very busy time for us as well.”
The Eagle is celebrating its 10th anniversary the last weekend in September with a cornucopia of events:
• Friday, September 26—Hairy Chest Contest ($100 Prize) during MINESHAFT in the Underground.
• Saturday, September 27—Bear Night, 7-10 PM, in the Underground; Softball Player Appreciation Night, 7-9 PM, in the Bolt; and Boogie Wonderland performing 10 PM-Close.
• Sunday, September 28—Best of ShowTunes, 5-11 PM, in the Bolt; and Beer Bust, 4-8 PM, in all three bars.