Saturday, April 30, 2016

SO LONG AND FAREWELL TO THE RANCH

The long-running Altland’s Ranch in York County, PA, suddenly closed its doors. A representative for the owner saying the bar and restaurant’s demise was due to a downturn in customer numbers. Running since 1967, and commonly known in the area as simply as The Ranch, the venue was run from the late 1960s onwards by co-owners Rodney Nagle and his partner, Bernie, during which time it thrived. However, Bernie died in 2004, and since that time Nagle, who is now 77 and residing in a nursing home, had employed others to run the venue for him. Many LGBTQ venues in the past decade have faced difficulties as technology has provided an increasing number of ways in which gay people can meet one another.
 
At the time, being from the Harrisburg area, it was a bar just a 40 minute jaunt for the Mistress and clan. But this wasn't one of the big city, swanky venues your Mistress would usually attend. No, this place was way out, and when I say way out, I'm talking desolate. And it literally looked like a Ranch. The inside looked more like a large country bingo hall, with banquet tables set up, a sitting area, and two bars. At the front was a simple stage for shows I suppose, although I never saw one of those, and from time to time they had sent in a mechanical bull, Anne Marie or Cali Boi would have loved to rode!!!! But I must admit it was an experience to have. The owners and staff were all friendly, and their were most famous drink was not beer, but their infamous, mind altering Long Island Iced Teas. Never did I have two drinks for a night and would be completely wasted, and have my unborn children grow gills. My good friend Wayne , or Winfred as I call him, could put away countless numbers of these things. One night I decided to bring out my alter ego The Mistress Borghese. Well. at first, I think the patrons were very shocked to have this decadent but campy, high haired queen in their midst, with a Pucci-stque long backless gown on. Lesbians kept asking if I was a fabled lipstick lesbians! Well, after some time the crowd loosened up. And after my first 32oz long island, the Mistress started her shtick on the dance floor. Wouldn't you know it was a Deee-Lite number. Well to my surprise, two muscle bears came up to me, picked my up by the arms, and carried me off the floor to a plaid sofa, where I sat upon the back of it. They then proceeded to slide the sofa all over the floor while a was voging on the back of it!!!! Turned out to be a crowd pleaser. And also one of the Mistress's numerous visits. I can also remember being there one year when I huge blizzard hit. not a fun ride home. We stopped at a diner in York County mind you. I was in full drag!!!! I was never more nervous or scarred in my life. But I didn't care, we went in. It was homophobe central for sure. I got some looks, but thankfully nothing came of any alterations.
the famous sofa I took my ride on.
 
What it lacked in cosmetics it made up for in heart!  Many could never tell you any bar owners names at any of the gay bars they've been to over the years … but they sure could tell you Bernie and Rodney’s names. Since I moved to the Philadelphia area, it has been years since I was there, but the owners apparently were still  greeting and hugging their customers.  And I can also remember the music. It would be mostly top 40 and old disco classics, but with a pause in between each song, not mixed like in most clubs. They didn't have the djing technology I'm sure. but it all added to the ambiance. And if I'm not correct, they would end the evening with TLC'S Red Light Special. It was one of the few and only places I knew of where they played slow dance songs for a  slow dance. What a great ice breaker if you wanted to meet someone. Like this bartender chap....
one of their promo flyer with featured bartend model.

That little place in the country affected a lot of lives and will live in memories for ever. Altland’s Ranch was the last remaining local LGBTQ venue In York County, following the closure of Velvet Rope, Club XS and LUX. So how appropriate to end an era but with Red Light Special.....

33 comments:

  1. What a great post! I enjoyed your story of the place. Meanwhile, I can ride that mechanical bull...or anything else you throw at me.

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    1. We have a lovely tilt a whirl here at the casa.......

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    2. throw it to him Mistress

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  2. What a great story! The place sounds like a good time. It's unfortunate that these places are closing. It's still nice to go out and have an actual interaction with other people.

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  3. Oh yes, the fast fading gay bar. Soon to be a relic of another era. A nice tribute, Mistress!

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  4. "I think the patrons were very shocked to have this decadent but campy, high haired queen in their midst, with a Pucci-stque long backless gown on." A sight to behold no doubt. What a fun story to read.

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  5. They ended the night with you dancing to the Red Light Special. How right on......

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    1. Problem was, I always gave the green light.

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  6. As a gay man, one of the things which worried me about coming out was the concern that I would be marginalised into a stereotypical gay lifestyle and subculture instead of remaining independent and part of the mainstream. Thankfully, society has changed so quickly that this never happened and never experienced any homophobia even if some attitudes could still do with improvement.
    The gay venues never had such a key role for me, but I do think their presence, like any other culturally specialised venue, is important in making cities the diverse and exciting place people love to experience. This place sound like quite a memorable place.

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    1. I am mixed too. Its great to go anywhere, but once in a while, it's nice to not have to guess who gay flirt with the guy next to you and have a great conversation, without getting your block knocked off.

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  7. It's been a favorite of mine for almost 20 years, but I never did do drag there. Love this walk down memory lane.

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  8. Sad that yet another gay venue bites the dust. Greedy property speculators, or just apathetic yoof? Whatever the reason, at least you have your memories... Jx

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    1. And a flannel shirt from some cowpoke named Sven.

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    2. No need to call your "poke" a "cow". Jx

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  9. While the big clubs are fun, it was the small hidden, out of the way gems like this, I had the best time.

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  10. Fun read! It must have taken balls, which we know you have, to appear like that in drag. Never been there, but I hear that area is extremely homophobic. Amazing this bar stood against with no problems.

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  11. While I'm mixed on the whole gay venue leaving. We shouldn't need a special place to go, but it was nice. The only thing is, when we had exclusively gay bars and clubs, you really got a sense of the community sticking together, something the new generation I think won't know. I too found hole in the walls to be the best times.

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    1. I totally agree with what you say. Its funny how many go to the Stonewall in the Village just for the history and try to capture that feeling. Our newer gay bar here are nice and do a great job, but the feeling just will never be captured like the day of yore.

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  12. Love reading your post. I can only imagine your presence there. We were there a few times. Our first time there we were both like, what in fresh hell is this place??? We had some of the best times out there. You never knew what to expect, or who'd show up.

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  13. Sometimes we get the most out of the places that initially seem to offer the least.
    (I'd be surprised if that makes any sense)
    Fascinating post.

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    1. Makes more sense then you think. I was always fortunate enough to make my own fun where ever we went.

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  14. I can just see you cutting your infamous runways as I type this. Two years ago I did a show there...I was told to remove drag before going to a diner on rt 74. You sure have balls Mistress.

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  15. I love reading up on your personal posts. You sure did have a good time. You had me at two muscular cowboys! I guarantee that what these venue are being replaced with will be less interesting than what was there before also.

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  16. What a fun story. Just think how many probably remember that and wonder what happened to you too. What an interesting place. I have no idea the places I once haunted are there or not. I used to go out a lot. But if I had my chance to come out then and experience the gay life or now...I wouldn't change a thing.

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  17. LOL!!!! So enjoyed that story. You really are quite something. Very good memories there. I only used I could have wore a backless number! While we haven't really lost any gay bars presay, we here in Ptown are facing more and more commercial companies and these damn obnoxious bachelorette parties here. I worry what will become of Ptown. Some summer guest I used to see, I haven't seen in a couple now because of this.

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  18. You have certainly mu fair Mistress had some good times. I love when you feature your fond memories of yester year. That place....and the feeling you had there reminds me of Too Wong Foo.

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  19. When you have a place that looks like a ranch, with bar tenders who look like that, a mechanical bull, and then hear Red Light Special, you know it's a fun place, great story btw.

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  20. hold the line.....32oz long island iced teas and a $3 cover....my kind of place tootes.

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  21. "they had sent in a mechanical bull, Anne Marie or Cali Boi would have loved to rode!!!!" - I can't speak for cali boi, but the only bull I wanna ride would be a hairy bear with a nice cock!

    and how I would have LOVED to see you on that couch in full drag!

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  22. It's sad to see places like this go by the wayside. Even the "straight" bars in my neck of the woods are closing up due to a lack of business. I think it's a combination of the different ways to meet people via technology and the economy.

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  23. Sad to see that as times change and places like that slip away, but times do change.
    Interesting tune that Red Light Special... I clicked it as it didn't ring a bell with me. I somehow missed that one as I cannot recollect ever hearing it.

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Go ahead darling, tell me something fabulous!

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