In Alphatribe 13 we named the well-known Gold Coast Bar in Chicago as the oldest leather bar in the world. But we need to revise that! While the Gold Coast Bar started in 1958, The Argos in Amsterdam started a year earlier in 1957. At the time, Elvis Presley was still a one-hit wonder.
The Argos began its existence at Warmoesstraat 22 as a guesthouse. It is in the basement of the guesthouse that Europe’s first darkroom was born. The Argos moved in 1965 and then again in 1979 to its last location at Warmoesstraat 95. All three locations were within a minute of each other and very close to Amsterdam’s infamous red-light district.
By 2010, the heyday of The Argos was over. The days where huge crowds of leathermen stood outside on the streets during a weekend were gone. RoB, a nearby leather shop, made a brave attempt to re-invigorate The Argos. The entire bar was redecorated, and the darkroom basement got a very good make-over. But it was to no avail and the world’s oldest leather bar closed its doors in 2015. That also makes it the leather bar with the longest trading history as well.
We know there will be further arguments about what constitutes a ‘leather bar’. For example, what about the Eagle in New York which opened in 1931? Was that a leather bar from the outset? Let the debates commence! But for now, Europe has snatched this title away from the States.