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Esta Noche
Lissy wears an Adidas bra from stylist's archive, their own earrings and a choker by Issy Salomon

ESTA NOCHE, 1979-2014

The neon glister of two signs—one with a silhouetted palm tree and the other with the words: Cocktails, Dancing, Live Entertainment—reigned like a halo above Esta Noche’s entrance. Founded in response to discrimination often faced by members of BIPOC communities at the hands of white gay “clones” in the Castro’s many bars, Esta Noche served as the epicenter of San Francisco’s queer Latinx culture and political activism for over three decades. A victim of gentrification during the city’s Second Tech Boom, Esta Noche closed in 2014.  Photographer Diego Bendezu, along with a crew of Latinx talent and creatives, explores the beauty of their cultural heritage through the trailblazing roads paved by the bar’s notorious clientele. The night beckons us in this editorial and original piece of fiction.

PHOTOGRAPHY + FILM DIEGO BENDEZU @diegobendezu
FASHION + FICTION MAURICIO QUEZADA @_mauricio_quezada_ using only archive, vintage and personal pieces and sustainable independent designers 
HAIR RUBI JONES@la_rubi_rubi @julianwatsonagency
MAKEUP MARCO CASTRO @marcoamazonico using @marcocastro.world
NAILS AMY VEGA @amivnails @musecreativesnyc 
CASTING CHEYMA HA @cheymha @daha.nyc
MAKEUP ASSISTANT ARIAS ROYBAL @girlafraid___
CINEMATOGRAPHY ZACH ROCKENSTYRE @zrock1
MODELS ALEX @not_even_flexin @NewYorkModels ALEXIS @aalexisjae @Onemanagement ANYERKA @anyerkainfante @elitenyc JORDAN @J0rdan.zzz @daha.nyc LISSY @lissy.micera @daha.nyc MAGDALENO @magdaleno_delgado @heroesmodels MELISSA @whatevermela @daha.nyc

Esta Noche, 3079 16th St. San Francisco, CA 94103, c. 1979-2014

 

Esta noche, a bouncer nicknamed El Tigre harnessed in leather daddy drag will overlook my trembling hands when I hand him a fake ID from North Carolina with the name John Kent spelled out where Juan Gomez should clearly be. My nails will gleam with three sloppy coats of OPI Abstract After Dark. 

Esta noche while slow dancing to Miguel Bose with the thottie of my dreams, she will purr in my ear—Si tú no vuelves—and I will wonder if she notices the sock stuffed down my pants. 

Esta noche I will see a baddie with a curled updo, copious ringlets, and curlicues, giving full on “tia” vibes, and compose an email to myself with the subject line: CALL MOM!!!

Esta Noche
Alex wears a bomber by Alexander Wang from Albright Fashion Library, an Urban Renewal Levi's jacket from Urban Outfitters, a shirt by Willy Chavarria and a tie from stylist's archive

Esta noche I will paint red streaks of Kool-Aid into my hair and taste fruit punch on my tongue sweating the night away with some fuckboi from Oakland. He will smell of Drakkar Noir and green apple Jolly Ranchers. 

Esta noche the cab driver will have the radio tuned into Qué Buena 98.9 F.M. Over the speakers Walter Mercado will profess defiantly—El cielo es la musa del amor.

Esta noche I will do a bump of god-only-knows in a graffitied bathroom stall with my new best friend—¡Oye, me voy a mear!—whose name I won’t soon remember while we bond over our recent top surgeries. They will recommend a homeopathic salve of artemisa, romero, caléndula, y aloe for the cicatrices

Esta Noche
Magdaleno wears a bodysuit by Alix from Albright Fashion Library, sweatpants by Luar and their own necklaces

Esta noche glass beer bottles will clink and clank, splattering their amber cargo, plopping one after the next into a blue recycling bin thanks to my eco-conscious bar-backing—¡Güey, recoge tu basura! Esta noche I will remember Juanga and cry like a drunken fool when Amor Eterno plays on the jukebox. My gringo friends will just never understand. Esta noche a shriveled raisin of a man will buy me a drink—whisky sour, three cherries for luck!—that I will accept gratefully, counting the loose change in my pocket, hoping I have enough for bus fare home. I will covertly gawk at the bushels of hair sprouting from the raisin’s ears and scribble down a fake phone number in brown lip liner on a damp cocktail napkin when he asks.

Esta noche I will argue with a friend over the inconsistencies surrounding Ana Mendieta’s death. When the conversation shifts to Mendieta’s art I will imagine the silhouettes of native women fixed onto Lombard Street like a string of parked cars and think—¿Banksy quien?

Esta Noche
Melissa wears a jacket by Willy Chavarria, a bra by Leak NYC a skirt and bodysuit from stylist's archive and their own jewelry
Esta Noche
Lissy wears an Adidas bra from stylist's archive, a skirt by EsVenganza, a choker by Issy Salomon and their own earrings and rings

Esta noche my toes will go numb wearing heels for the first time, a size too small—¡Uy!—and I’ll grit my teeth through a two song performance in an Olga Tañon-esque onesie.

Esta noche I will remember the baritone chortle and faint tobacco tinctures that trailed my favorite teacher, Sra. Rodriguez, and I will believe once again that miracles are possible—¡Si se puede!

Esta noche light rain will fall through the Mission and rouse a robust, mischievous wind from the east. Skirts will fly. So too wigs. No matter. Fog will descend and bring with it whispers of romance.

Esta noche a child—let’s call them Arcoiris—will scroll through their parents phone and come upon this story on Submission’s Instagram and think—¡Guau! At night their minds will pulsate with iridescent fantasies—a cascade of molasses beats; a plucky uptick of the heart; a budding flow cum pupil dilation—and they’ll dream of spaces where they can finally be themselves. 

Esta noche a young mother con piel morena y ojos razgados will clutch a crying infant to her breast begging for silence in the pitch-black dark of a freight hauler stuffed to the hilt with the brown limbs of others. The exterior of the truck will read “CARGO” in sun-chewed cerise paint. 

Esta Noche
Anyerka wears a sweatshirt by Luar, a vintage Charvet shirt, Army Navy t-shirt and JNCO vintage jeans, all from stylist's archive and their own jewlery
Esta Noche

Esta noche I will hear the murmurs of Detective Olivia Benson waffle through the cheap plaster walls of the overpriced hovel I call home. My next door neighbor, Olga, will clatter on the phone to a girlfriend in a Slavic language I don’t understand. From her tone I’ll know she’s whining about yet another failed romance. In the air the smell of cooked salmon and green curry will permeate. Outside the city will vibrate with a drumming buzz like that of a long haul cattle drive. And I will remember that borders and birthrights are not vital to the human condition, that they are merely another way in which this world seeks to “other.”

Esta Noche
Alexis wears a coat by Luar, a vest by Urban Renewal at Urban Outfitters, shorts by Dickies from stylist's archive and their own jewlery
Esta Noche

Esta noche after several years have passed, we will make plans to meet. I will use a real ID this time and when you take it from El Tigre’s hands—¿Él todavía trabaja aquí?—passing it back to me, you will remark, My abuela is from Aguas Calientes also. I will look into your eyes whirling with excitement like a tsunami crowning a weather map and I will mockingly say—¡Paisa! 

 

Esta Noche
Jordan wears a t-shirts by Urban Renewal from Urban Outfitters, jeans by Willy Chavarria and boxer shirts + jewelry from stylist's archive
Esta Noche

Esta noche a shooting star will rip open the dark. Some of us will cross ourselves. Others will stand, necks stretched upward, studying the sky with a longing gape. We will all wish for things that we dream of only in Spanish.

The End