Best Closing Bar: The Hippo


1 W. Eager St., (410) 547-0069,

It opened during the first Nixon administration, before there were gay people, or, if not that exactly, certainly before the era when gay people started feeling comfortable gathering in droves, and a few years before people decided that dancing was about as much fun as you could have on a Saturday night. By the late 1970s, the Hippo had established itself as a kind of town hall for Baltimore’s gay and lesbian citizens. And it was also a magnificent dance club, in a time when everybody danced. Always at the Hippo there was the dance side and the bar side. And while the dance side was always about the dance, the bar side, formally the Eager Street Saloon, changed and changed over the years. We miss the video bar and the pinball machines, and it’s the world’s loss that we may never get to sing our karaoke version of ‘Superstar’ again. For the Hippo is closing, sometime soon. It was announced in May that owner Chuck Bowers was shuttering the Hippo, among the longest continuously operating gay nightclubs in the country, and was going to lease out the space to a CVS pharmacy, which struck some observers as a calamity and most everyone as a damn shame. We will leave the musing about the vanishing of gay culture for another time. For now, we think our feelings on the subject are best captured by Laura Branigan, who sang, “If everybody wants you, why isn’t anybody callin’?”

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