The New Baltimore Eagle Isn’t What You Expect. It’s More.
“Life is neither static nor unchanging. With no individuality, there can be no change, no adaptation and, in an inherently changing world, any species unable to adapt is also doomed.”
― Jean M. Auel
The newly renovated Baltimore Eagle may take you by surprise. Yes, it’s still located on the notorious grounds of the old Eagle at 2022 N Charles Street. Yes, it’s still owned by members of the local leather and BDSM community. Yes, it’s still a leather bar – as you can tell by the bartenders and bar-backs wearing little more than leather, levi, and skin.
But when you first walk in to the Tavern at the Eagle, the downstairs sports-themed bar, you might think you walked into the newest trendy cocktail bar in the Inner Harbor. The crowd is mixed in gender, sexuality, race, and more. You may not see the leather at first, but as you look around you begin to notice. “Oh, there’s a Bear in a Harness.” “Oh look, a leather club from out of town.” “Hey, that DJ is hot.”
Upstairs in the Nest is a stage, light show, dance floor, and back bar with rich red walls. The room isn’t large. It’s just the right size to allow the young hip crowd let the music sink in and force a bump on the butt occasionally while they dance. At least it was a young hip crowd when I attended (I’m 46 and trying to stay cool, hip, chill… whatevs). The entertainment and, presumably, the audience will vary with the differing events from week to week.
The Baltimore Eagle may look like a new, trendy, hip spot. And maybe it is. But if you came for a leather bar, you won’t give a fuck about all that. You’ll make your way to the Code Bar.
The heart of the building is the Code Bar. After certain hours you must either be in leather or shirtless to enter. They have an award-winning bootblack ready to attend to your boots. The rest of the room is dark. A wall of rubber tires stacked upon one another separates the room. The music is a few decades old rock-and-roll, and even the youngest in the crowd know the lyrics.
Just like each other part of the bar feels separate, the Code Bar makes you feel like you’ve walked into a cruisy bar where you can practice the dark arts of de-coding someone’s back-pocket hanky. But it also feels warm and inviting, like everyone knows each other. And if you don’t know them, you’ll probably know someone before you leave.
By the way, leather is the most respected thing here. If you are in High Cow, the Eagle requests that you go to the front of the front-door line. You must be in leather to get in the Code Bar. The brightest spotlight in the Code Bar is appropriately on the boots.
In full disclosure, Bear Nonsense is the promoter for The Baltimore Eagle on Friday nights for Bear night, but let me promise you this review was neither requested nor is there any quid-pro-quo. I’m genuinely excited by what the new Baltimore Eagle is doing, and that’s why I wanted to help.
The LGBT community is changing. We are more mainstream. In order for our sub-communities to survive, keep history and culture alive, and continue to make an impact on new people, they must be willing to embrace the entire community. This is what the Baltimore Eagle is up to. They are taking the lead to unite their local community, while insuring their survival by being a home to a diverse market.
There’s more to say, but it’s time for me to get on a train and head to Baltimore for Baltimore Bear Friday.
– Bearnaked Joe