Hunters hosts 15th birthday bash in Palm Springs

September 25th, 2013 | by Will Dean | Comments
Partiers pack the dance floor at Hunter’s on Saturday night. The bar celebrates its 15-year anniversary this weekend. (Skip Descant, The Desert Sun.)

Partiers pack the dance floor at Hunters on Saturday night. The bar celebrates its 15-year anniversary this weekend. (Skip Descant, The Desert Sun.)

By Skip Descant

It was September 1998, and the movie “There’s Something About Mary” was packing movie theaters in that summer’s sleeper-hit. In only three weeks everyone on the dance floor would be taken with “Believe,” Cher’s runaway hit.

And on Arenas Road in Palm Springs a new gay bar was opening up. It was known as Hunters, and coming all the way from Chicago.

And in other ways, Hunters was a harbinger of times to come.

“When we first opened in Palm Springs we were the first non-smoking bar,” said Mark Hunter, the bar’s owner, reminiscing this week about the many changes he’s seen, as Hunters plans to celebrate its 15-year anniversary. “And I think we got a lot of business because of it. And then the law kicked in, and all the other bars went to nonsmoking as well.”

“The business has changed a lot in 15 years,” he added. “Fifteen years, to me, it doesn’t seem like a very long time.”

The bar helped to usher in an era of gay nightlife on Arenas Road, said Hunter, 60. One that continues today.

“We did kind of create a new audience, if you will, something that had never been done before,” he recalled. “Previous to us opening on Arenas Road, a lot of the gay bars were located in the Cathedral City area. And we moved to Palm Springs, and I think we kind of anchored the Arenas Road area a little bit early on, and it just kind of cemented it.

“Because it was already gay. The Rainbow Cactus was there. Street Bar was there. There was a lot of other gay businesses on the street at the time, and we just kind of cemented the fact that it’s a little gay street,” Hunter added.

The celebration begins on Friday (Sept. 27) at 4 p.m. with a special proclamation by the city recognizing the role Hunters plays in the gay community and its role as a tourism draw.

“We see a lot of tourists and a lot of visitors to Hunters Palm Springs,” said Hunter. “We get international tourists as well, which I find very interesting.”
Also on Friday evening, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Palm Springs will perform along with special guests. There will be food by Dash and a Handful Catering and confections by Over the Rainbow Cupcakes and Desserts.

Stick around because at 9 p.m. the Andrew Christian guys come out. Did stopping short of baring all ever look so beautiful?

On Saturday (Sept. 28), from 9 p.m. to close, Cazwell performs live.

Pull yourself out of bed on Sunday (Sept. 29), because starting at noon take in the game and complimentary food by Crazy Coconut Bar and Grill. At 9 p.m. it’s the FlamBOYance Drag Revue hosted by Jayla D Foxx and Libra. This week’s special guests will be Chad Michaels, winner of “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars,” and Shannel from Season 1 of “RuPauls Drag Race.”

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