The end is near for one of New York City’s most iconic, most beloved, and most-visited gay bars. With little more than two weeks notice, Splash Bar owner Brian Landache announced that after 22 years in business, the bar’s front doors would close for the very last time on Saturday, August 10.
Splash will be fondly remembered for the late-night dance parties and early-morning walks of shame, but mostly for the brilliant crop of people it helped to raise. From drag queens to legendary nightlife promoters, go-go boys to chart-topping musicians, Splash’s celebrity track record will tower over its competitors for years to come.
Now, in Splash’s final days, let’s take a look back at some of the bar’s fiercest live performances ever.
Charo! Performing at Night of A Thousand Charos! What else could you possibly need?
In 2008, Cyndi Lauper used Splash as the backdrop for her “Into the Nightlife” video. The folks dancing around her were actually fans, and the crowd included out singer Ari Gold and former porn star Colton Ford. Were you there?
Before Broadway Bares grew into New York’s Roseland Ballroom, the legendary annual benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS entertained the crowds of Splash! Years later, BC/EFA began presenting single “Solo Strips” in the weeks leading up to Bares. Check one out above!
No this, is not Lady Gaga performing at Splash. Believe it or not, her Splash performance came long before anyone even knew who she was. No videos! Though we imagine the crowd’s reaction to Lady Gaga was quite similar to what they’re serving here, her early performances were also some of her most genuine. Relive her Splash glory days with Nikki Exotika’s tribute performance above.
Like many overnight stars before her, the British entertainer dominated the stage at Splash right as her first major single, “F*ck U Betta”, became the smash hit of last summer. Check out more photos here!
RuPaul and Splash go way back. Before she began primping the world’s future generations of drag superstars, this werking girl sashayed her way from the bottom to the top with local performances in in the early ’90s. Above, RuPaul performs “Looking Good, Feeling Gorgeous” at the single release party at Splash in 2004.
The Aussie pop Goddess, notorious friend of the gays, dropped into Splash in 2010 to preview tracks from her 11th studio album, Aphrodite. She received such overwhelming support in the U.S., it prompted her to announce her first ever North American tour the following year.
Katy Perry was in town to promote Teenage Dream in 2010, and rumors were swirling that she had a few “surprise nightclub performances” up her sleeve. When Splash announced a “surprise special guest” on the day of Katy’s final rumored performance, it was anything but a surprise.
Believe it or not, there was once a time when not everyone on the dance floor was equipped with camera phones and flip cams. It was then that Madonna ripped a hole in the stage at Splash, leaving little evidence that she was ever there in her wake. In 1999, Splash hosted the official VMA after-party for the queens that donned Madonna drag in front of her Madgesty on stage.
In November 2003, Britney hit the New York club scene to test demo tracks from her fourth studio album, In the Zone, on live audiences. The crowd at Splash was one of the first to hear “Toxic” and “Me Against the Music“, and footage from the performance was used in MTV’s 2003 documentary “In the Zone Out All Night“.