New Jersey’s oldest gay bar is in danger of closing
Club Feathers in River Edge is on the brink of closing. The club, which according to The Advocate, is the oldest gay bar in New Jersey, is about ready to fall victim to the pandemic’s economic fallout.
Two of the main draws of the club, indoor dining and dancing, aren’t allowed because of social distancing mandates, putting the bar on the brink. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help keep the club afloat, but, so far, only $45,000 of the needed $75,000 has been raised. The owner of the nightclub, Paul Binetti, told NorthJersey.com that he needs to raise the remaining cash in the next 45 days. That amount represents the back rent he owes.
The club opened on June 21, 1978, and, according to the Advocate, “visiting the club has remained a rite of passage for LGBTQ+ New Jerseyans in coming out.”
As the GoFundMe page describes it, "We opened so that our community could have a safe place to call our own, we have championed for social acceptance and equality. We are the longest-running gay club still in existence in NJ today and only one of a few left. In good times and bad, Feathers has been the place to go. We have all laughed, danced, partied, and cried together as a community in this place we call home."
Binetti has tried to adapt to the current conditions, revising the menu for outdoor dining and hiring a new chef, but without the indoor dining and dancing, it has been a struggle. He told NorthJersey.com that since his plight became known he has had offers of help, adding that drag queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race, as well as a member of the Village People have reached out to him about putting a benefit together to salvage the club. Details are reportedly still being ironed out.
The club has introduced socially-distant drag queen shows and even some music, but dancing isn’t permitted. Club Feathers’ website can be found here.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle. Any opinions expressed are Bill Doyle's own.