Jeremy Ogul | Raising the Bar
If San Diego’s gay bars were people, Numbers would be the one with multiple personalities.
And I mean that in the best way possible.
The nightclub on Park Boulevard serves as a sort of jack-of-all-trades for the LGBT community. One night it’s Karaoke Latino, another night it’s a sports bar, and yet another night it’s an R&B drag show featuring black kings and queens.
Some nights, management puts up a partition and hosts two events at once. That was the case on a recent Friday, when one side of the club hosted a new event called “Sin” — featuring go-go dancers with devil horns and a belly dancer performing with a live serpent — while the other side hosted a concert by Ana Victoria, a famous Latina singer.
The club’s flexibility is perfect for niche groups that want to create their own space away from more mainstream venues. But it also means you better check the calendar before popping in.
One of the most successful events at Numbers is the twice-monthly Club Sabbat, a gothic industrial party that has been bringing out the dark masses for more than 16 years.
“It’s packed to the max by midnight,” said Sabbat promoter and organizer Linda Estep. “There’s nothing like it in San Diego.”
Unlike most club events, this one thrives on its underground status. That means no Facebook page, no website, no ads featuring shirtless male muscle. And the music?
“Absolutely no hip-hop,” Estep said.
Instead, you’ll hear dark wave, industrial EDM and songs from artists such as Susie and the Banshees, Depeche Mode, Skinny Puppy and the like.
Sabbat is not targeted specifically to gay men, but to people of all orientations.
“It’s kind of pansexual,” Estep said. “Everyone comes — straight, gay, bi, whatever. We welcome everybody. But just don’t wear jeans. Or a tank top or flip flops. When in doubt, wear black, because these people really dress up for the club.”
Sabbat stands in stark contrast to other highly popular events at Numbers, such as BearNight San Diego, which hibernates until the first Saturday of every month.
To understand BearNight, consider these two words: go-go bears.
Just let that marinate for a minute.
Yes — while San Diego has quite a few hangouts for the bear crowd, BearNight is the place where bears and their friends and admirers go to get down on it. Promoter Chris Vance even brings in special ‘beartenders’ to work the bar on BearNight.
The party began in 2007 at Bacchus House in North Park and moved to Numbers after Bacchus House closed four years ago. At Numbers, the ability to have two dance floors with different DJs has helped attract a broader audience, but the overall size of the venue — smaller than Rich’s — helps maintain an intimate buzz, even on slower nights.
Vance, who moved to San Diego from the South nine years ago, takes pride in the friendly, grassroots feel of BearNight. He also points out that cover is always $5 before 10 p.m., and you’re rewarded with $6 double Svedkas and other shot specials all night.
In addition to club nights, Numbers also hosts daytime events for groups like the Imperial Court de San Diego and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.
Numbers is essentially a blank canvas, perfect for splashing with the rainbow of San Diego’s diverse community. Check their calendar at numberssd.com.
—“Raising the Bar” focuses on a different LGBT-oriented bar in San Diego every month. Do you have a story to tell? Write to Jeremy Ogul at firstname.lastname@example.org.