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Jade Esteban Estrada Bar Hops the New and Improved Main Strip

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“I’m a personality guy, not a looks guy,” I hear one middle-aged man say to a much younger gentleman (yeah, right). This type of dialogue hints that not only are all types welcome, but they actually feel at home at the Peg. Nearly naked twinks with Jell-O shots (fun fact: they are often straight guys with a good head for business) are aplenty, so bring a wad of dollar bills.

Club Essence of today isn’t necessarily a dive, but there’s not room for everyone in granny’s carriage. The people who frequent this club know what they’re signing up for and seem to like it all the more for it’s homey, bust-out-the-chanclas atmosphere, where they can catch some of the more muscular male dancers in town. It’s the kind of place where it’s totally cool to make eye contact with people while eating a banana. Karaoke is offered on some nights and occasionally local theater peeps step into the spotlight for a little practice. There’s also a full-on food menu, so if you’re not looking to make out with any strangers, have a burger with all the fixin’s at the patio bar and grill. No judgment here. Essence is the uncontested Planet Fitness of gay bars.

Older folks who remember The Saint in its heyday will tell you stories of the drag greats who graced the stage. The Saint still shines with its weekly showcase of popular performers like Tencha La Jefa and Toni R. Andrews. If you’re still on the fence to whether SA’s “Gayborhood” (a name perhaps borrowed from Philadelphia’s famed vecindario) really serves as a training ground for some of the more competitive drag performers in the business, [See “Drag’s New Dawn in SA,” June 26] you may want to take in a performance and see why these showgirls are slowly bringing The Saint back to the level of its former glory.

So snap an Instagram pic on the Strip while you can. Next year, it could very well look completely different.

Drink 2013
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