Arenas Road Reopens - Visit Palm Springs

Arenas Road Reopens

The Heart to LGBTQ Guests

By Kevin Perry

Society is only as strong as we make it. Though the pandemic drove us indoors for months on end, we connected online and at a distance, and now we are ready to rebuild our community stronger and safer than ever.

The concept of community is especially important to members of the LGBTQ+ family. We were born into a predominantly straight world, and then ventured out to seek others who lived, laughed, and loved in the same ways we do. Many of us made a pilgrimage to Palm Springs for its sense of inclusivity and warmth – both literal and figurative. The desert landscape is a hotbed of gay activity, and nowhere is that more apparent than on Arenas Road.

Arenas may be the most concentrated epicenter of LGBTQ life on earth, boasting about a dozen gay-owned businesses on one small stretch of land. Covid-19 put a temporary damper on the street’s fabulous festivities, but it could never break the bonds that make the Arenas Business District so wonderfully cohesive.

The entrepreneurs of Palm Springs have always worked together brilliantly. Collaboration flourishes anew as Arenas Road reopens and navigates the complexities of life after lockdown. Gay bars were particularly affected by the quarantine, closing their doors twice in response to local and state ordinances.

But from the darkness, a rainbow beam emerges. Hunters used their downtime to make over their façade and transform their back patio into an open-air lounge. In accordance with the new normal, bars must add food service to their routine in order to greet the public. Hunters was already (in)famous for their Jello shots, but now they are teaming with local vendors like to spice up your social life.

Speaking of socializing, Hunters is keepin’ it real… real respectful, that is. Masks are a must and the tables are luxuriously spread out. From Sunday Funday brunch to nightly happy hour specials, the Hunters lounge is spacious and inviting, day or night.

And no night on Arenas would be complete without the signature sport of barhopping. The joy of this LGBTQ paradise is its easy access to the full array of queer existence. Piano bistros and leather playgrounds vie for your gay dollars with a sense of unexpected harmony.

Looks like we said the magic word: leather. Every time the L-word is uttered, an eagle gets its wings – Eagle 501 Bar, to be precise. This manly, industrial space has opened its rugged arms to the public and embraced a new seating strategy.

The parking lot between Eagle 501 and Chill Bar is now a monument to queer camaraderie, sharing customers and flirtatious looks galore. The owners of these establishments have coordinated their efforts to transform a barren patch of asphalt into a gay gathering spot flourishing with possibilities.

One event you must add to your socially distanced social calendar is… say it with us now: BINGO! Every Saturday night, Chill’s got your number(s). The drag queen du jour is serving rapid-fire realness and crowning winners aplenty in the alluring haze of twilight.

Beyond The Bar Scene

Even though Blackbook is technically a bar (and a damn great one), it has halted its regular service in order to serve up something even more intoxicating: community. Their gourmet pub fare is available for pickup, providing the perfect nosh to fuel a night on the town. Blackbook’s substantial menu will help you cushion the blow of the generous pours from Hunters and Chill.

Blackbook Nachos

But the generosity of Arenas Road transcends alcohol. Kinky accessories beckon from every corner of the block. Palm Springs Piercing Company can dazzle anything that dangles. Bear Wear overflows with eye-catching inventory, like chest hair from a sweaty tank top. And Rough Trade can outfit you with the perfect ensemble (and attitude) for a visit to their neighbor, the aforementioned Eagle 501.

Arenas Road is all about synergy. Every storefront feels like a different facet of your personality, satisfying a desire you may never have acknowledged before. In the good ol’ gays, visitors were encouraged to stroll from one enclave to the next, hugging and cavorting with fabulous abandon.

Now, we must find new ways to express our shared passions. We can admire eye candy from afar. We can be raw yet respectful. We can redefine the gay experience in the short term in order to arrive at long-term togetherness. Because no matter how far you travel – both in distance and in spirit – all roads circle back to community. Arenas Road is here for you and it’s queer for you; get used to it.

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