Happy 20th birthday to Capitol Hill’s The Cuff — Plus, a brief history

(Image: The Cuff Complex)

(Image: The Cuff Complex)

1993 was a damn sexy year on Capitol Hill. Earlier this week, we told you about the beginning of E Pike-born Babeland’s 2013 celebrations marking 20 years in business.

Saturday night, The Cuff will also be doing some business celebrating its 20 years of leather and love on 13th Ave.

You can find a brief history of the legendary leather bar and nightclub here:

The Cuff began as a dream of Mr. Tim F. and Mr. Scott R., to provide a positive social outlet for people who were into Leather, Levi’s and Uniforms. After an exhaustive search throughout the Capitol Hill area, the present bar location was selected based upon the criteria that Tim and Scott had developed as important requirements for a bars success

In December of 1992, Cuff, Ltd. was born. Construction began in early January 1993. Most people who viewed the space early on all walked away with the same basic statement that the space would never work. Where they ever wrong. More…

[mappress mapid="8"]The club was purchased by Randy Fields in 2004 — the family continues to own the company operating the one-of-a-kind night spot.

UPDATE: We asked Jeff Hennes, the long-time head of security for The Cuff who is retiring along with the 20th anniversary to concentrate full-time on his E Pike Doghouse Leathers shop, for his take on the club’s long history:

 The concept for The Cuff came from Scott Rodriguez and Tim F. and The Cuff opened as a Men’s Leather/Uniform/Fetish Bar on March 23rd 1993.  That was Scott’s Birthday and he was determined to open that day.  It was a tavern only serving Beer & Wine (only lounges with restaurants served liquor back then).  On our 5th Anniversary, Scott announced plans to expand into the rest of the building with an restaurant, dance floor and patio.  After six months of construction it opened and the Cuff became the Cuff Complex.
Today, the Cuff Complex is the home bar for many of Seattle’s leather, bear, bike and fetish groups such as Seattle Men in Leather, Border Riders MC and Northwest Bears to name a few.  The Cuff has become the place to come hang out, dance, social and just chill out.  Today, The focus of the Cuff is to provide a safe space thatcaters to an masculine energy and serves as the community living room.  The Cuff continues to be known for it’s theme parties such as Halloween, Beach Party, Furnace and many more.  Then there is the Cuff’s Annual Pride Day Street Party for 7000 of your closest friends.  This year, our host will be Lady Bunny with Crystal Waters, Stacy Q and others performing on the Cuff Stage with DJ PornStar making you dance in the streets.
Ok, a few thoughts and tidbits
The big disco ball used to hang at the Boren Street Disco.  That became City Beat then the Timberline, nor part of Cornish.  So that disco ball has been hanging in a Seattle Gay bar since 1978.  Various pieces of art go back to several of the old bars from the 80s’ like the J&L Saloon’s 1st Anniversary Poster (1982).  That is now the Seattle Eagle.
The Cuff stays the same and yet manages to reinvent itself.  Many of our customers bring their families into the bar so that they can see “their living room”.  One customer was telling me the other night about losing his mom and dad for an hour in the bar.  His parents were is seperate sections of the bar and had a great time.
Folks are always amazed on how big the Cuff is.  With the Front Bar, the Dance Bar downstairs. the Patio and the Dogrun so it is easy to lose some one.  What is great, it that you can dance, cool off outside or just hang out and chat with friends and meet new friends.  There is a space for everyone.
Hennes says he and general manager Dan Daniels — “my husband of 20+ years”– are the last of the original staff still working.
Doghouse Leathers is a CHS advertiser.

11 thoughts on “Happy 20th birthday to Capitol Hill’s The Cuff — Plus, a brief history

    • You’re SO right! I remember a short time after the “complex” opened and their website updated to included a SERIOUS excess of the adjective “hottest” If they’ve provided the hottest of everything, then Seattle has pretty low standards.

      And let’s not go there when it comes to the grammatical and spelling errors in the above press release from the Cuff. Looks like it was written by somebody who writes for SGN

  1. Great to see these business succeed for so long, especially in the light of added competition – I’m sure they’ve had rough patches to struggle through and I’m glad they survived. Now I wonder how long they will maintain the building before it’s repurposed.

  2. to be fair, I’ve had a lot of fun at the Cuff over the years, but like Neighbour’s and many other venues, their time has come and gone. What makes it work for them is that there’s a group of bars in close proximity to each other (Cuff, Mad Pub, Diesel) people can migrate as they wish. Things were better with the addition of Thumper’s and CC’s to that mix. Now folks are too scattered and business everywhere suffers.

  3. Cuff is fun and the staff really makes you feel like you are special and important. They do have tons of competition, and I will go out on the weekend and hit all the different bars and clubs, big and small, but by 12.30….everyone will be saying the same thing…lets just go to the cuff. I feel at home there, Jeff and the door, and the bartenders, hug you, ask you about your week, the place is packed, its always a sure bet on a late saturday nite.

  4. I see above that some people think the Cuff’s time has come and gone, but there are many of us who go there regularly and enjoy just what is mentioned–the living room feeling. I love the dancing at the Cuff, and the new showtunes singalong. I’m a lesbian and find it a very welcoming venue, and particularly enjoy the fact that while the Cuff welcomes everyone somehow the crowd seems to be a mostly gay one. If you think it’s time has gone, maybe it’s not for you, but a lot of us adore the place.

  5. I went tonight. Super lame. What a missed opportunity. Zero branding of the anniversary and only a few mentions on the microphone. If you didn’t catch them announcing the anniversary over the music you would have never known.

    I love the cuff but they really need to get current with the music and reinvest some of their earnings in refreshing the decor. I’ve been going for almost 13 years and outside of some slight remodels/reconfigurations, not much has changed.

    Would love the Cuff to last another 20 years and to do so, they need to keep it fresh. Attention Cuff staff, please find a way to keep current with out abandoning your long-time cliental. It has to be possible!

  6. Pingback: Capitol Hill food+drink | Vostok Dumpling House to bring the comforts of Soviet Russia to Capitol Hill | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle

  7. Pingback: Compliments Of The House | The Hamazon