R Place celebrates its 30th anniversary this year and, despite repeated concerns about the end of the Capitol Hill “gayborhood,” business is better than ever.
“Seattle is just more gay popular and gay friendly. What used to be just a gay bar is not just a gay bar anymore,” said manager Floyd Lovelady.
Though the number of gay bars and clubs on the Hill has diminished, more people feel welcome at R Place, a “gay bar that is straight friendly,” Lovelady said.
Over the years, R Place has gone through two sets of owners. The current owners Rick Flowers and Steve Timmons purchased it 20 years ago after Flowers had been with R Place for four years.
E Pine’s R Place was first on Pike where it was a sports bar tavern with pool tables, only selling beer and wine.
R Place moved to its current location and began to serve sell hard alcohol 18 years ago, transitioning to a nightclub.
The four-level building it inhabits is part of the Hill’s auto row past. It used to be a Ford Model T showroom complete with a car elevator. The elevator doesn’t work but the parts are still there. The three levels are used for the club while the fourth floor is an apartment where employees have lived.
R Place prides itself on long relationships with its staff. One manager has worked there 19 years while the other has for almost 15. The bartenders currently working there have all been for over 10.
To celebrate the 30th anniversary, the club has welcomed musical performers all month and is holding a potluck for its loyal patrons that keep coming back year after year.
Some of the favorite events R Place has held over the years have been “Queer Factor” where people participating that night would compete in consuming disgusting things. Other favorites include drag show nights and amateur strip pole nights where everyone is welcome to flaunt their skills. Its drag queen scene remains strong with many performers making the club their primary hangout.
“R Place has become an institution. Hopefully it sticks around for 30 more years,” said Lovelady.
R Place is located at 619 E Pine. You can learn more at rplaceseattle.com.