The group that until last month was running the resurrected Baltimore Eagle leather bar and nightclub in Old Goucher is making a comeback this weekend, with the soft opening of Night Shift 2.0 at the edge of Canton, near the city-county line.
Chris Jay, marketing and events manager for Night Shift 2.0, which bills itself as “an LGBTQ adult entertainment experience,” describes it as “kind of like a wonderland.”
“You get to kind of walk and be transformed to somewhere else. You can be whoever it is you want to be that night. In that space, you’re completely free to just explore who you are, who you want to be, and find community.”
Jay, who was also marketing and events manager for the recently shuttered Baltimore Eagle, said the main goal is inclusivity–not “to create a space that dominates any one part of the intersection” of various LGBTQ groups.
“To deny that leather people don’t also enjoy drag is kind of like a generalization that’s not necessarily true all the time,” Jay said. “To say that the drag community is not also part of the leather community is not always true. To not address that intersection, I feel like you really miss out on the ability to service the community in a full-bodied way.”
Jay was part of a team that developer and Baltimore Eagle co-owner Ian Parrish cut ties with last month, less than four months after they linked up to bring the leather bar back at 2022 N. Charles St. The business is one of several unrelated Eagle bars around the United States catering to the leather and kink communities, and one of the largest LGBTQ bars in Baltimore.
It’s been shut down since early August, and is now in its second hiatus in two years. Parrish has said he plans to find new operators to reopen it, and told The Sun he was targeting October for a comeback.
Ian Parrish and his father and business partner, Charles Parrish, poured $1.7 million into renovating the club after its previous operator died, and first hired a management team, 4 Crazy Guys LLC, to run the bar when they gave it new life in 2017. But that group, headed by Charles King and Greg King, abruptly closed the bar in July 2018 after a business dispute with the Parrishes.
After last month’s closure, Ian Parrish told Baltimore Fishbowl he felt a management change was again needed, saying there was an “issue” with the most recent tenants making rent.
He also denied allegations made on social media that he wasn’t pleased with the direction of the club because it was hosting events catering to the trans community, and accusations he was bothered the Eagle wasn’t bringing in more of the leather community.
He said the operators were “doing a tremendous job,” and that he was pleased they were catering to trans and drag patrons.
But he said the Eagle’s downstairs area was traditionally for a male leather audience, so he suggested to Jay and others that they try hosting more leather events to bring in more revenue, and “they took that as that I’m transphobic.”
“Anybody that knows me knows that I’m not that,” he said in August, adding, “Everybody has always been and will always be welcome. I’m sorry that my suggestion so that the tenants could make money was taken out of context, but that’s all it ever was.”
Jay said in retrospect today, ahead of Night Shift 2.0’s Friday soft opening, that both sides “weren’t on the same page as to how to service the community best.”
“We felt that what Ian wants to create with the Eagle was very specific, and his creation of a brand for the Eagle, in my opinion, is a little misguided and offline from what the community actually is,” Jay said.
Night Shift 2.0 will allow more flexibility with what types of events they can host, they said.
“We’re able to attract the leather and kink community, as well as the LGBTQ community at large. We get to still create a very sex-positive space, and that includes lots of drag, lots of dancers–just all the bells and whistles that we wanted to do over at the Eagle, we get to now do.”
The club has inherited a party-ready spot from its former tenants, the now-closed strip club Night Shift (1.0, technically), as well as its liquor license.
Jay said events are already lined up, including drag shows every Friday and Sunday night karaoke with drag queen Anita Minett. The club will also feature DJs, including DJ Kai and Ryan Doubleyou, and regularly have go-go dancers “that are all types of bodies.”
It’ll be up and running tomorrow, but a grand opening celebration is set for Oct. 4.
Located at 1725 Ponca St., underneath I-95 and merely blocks from Dundalk, the space is further-flung than the Eagle. But Jay noted it offers free parking, and, more importantly, gives the operators the independence they desire.
“It’s kind of outside of the hustle and bustle, but still very convenient to some things. And it’s like our space at night because there’s nothing else there. We can take up the space that we need to be able to take up and feel safe.”
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