Mercantile Saloon : Sac Magic


By: CityFella

I believe Bar’s, Clubs have distinct personalities. Some are buttoned up, others casual. Most appeal to a specific crowd or audience.  The Mercantile Saloon,(called the Merc by the locals) attracts a wide audience. The Merc is a working gay bar with a large heterosexual following.

The scene is causal, men and women, ages range from barely legal to senior citizens plus.  Its a great place to people watch (especially on the weekends).

In my mind the Merc is unique.   First you add the flavors, a liberal amount of  Black,White,Latino, Asian’s then add in a large helping of straights and gays ,mix well and you have a unique dish called the Merc.

It’s place where straight people aren’t threatened, says Jennifer T.of Elk Grove.  I came here 17 years ago.  I was engaged to a man at the time starting a new life here in Sacramento.  I came here with co-workers on a friday night. The Merc was the first gay bar I’d ever been in, and  I was a wreck inside.  After 10 minutes, I remember saying to myself  this is okay  I can handle this, I am in a gay bar.  Then we went to Faces, where I had a major panic attack.   When I came out twelve years ago, I brought my sister and my Aunt’s here.   I don’t come here as much as I use to and there are a lot of new faces but I still love it her. 

Its two bars,  Inside, you can hear people singing,rocking in their seats to their favorite songs.  You might see drag queens, playing pool with construction workers.  Regulars sitting at the bar watching whatever is on TV sitting next to elegantly dressed matrons who have long toned down their drag.      Farm boys/men getting dragged  up for the first time

Outside, the patio is filled with circular tables and a long bench seat along  the fence is by far the most popular area in the bar  Seasoned men watching the young, sometime shaking their head in disapproval.  The young watching the old wondering why they aren’t home. not realizing one day they will sit at that table.  Experienced drag queens advising the farm boys/men.   Its loud, and on the weekends every square inch is filled with drink and laughter.

People who have never traveled out of Sacramento are unaware of the magic here. A few years ago I was ushered out of a bar in the Midwest, because my friends were concerned about my safety.   It seems (I learned later) after 10pm this nightclub was unsafe for people of color, especially blacks.  In 2014 the ism’s still exists.  So far I haven’t come encountered many of them in Sacratomatoville.  The clientele of the Merc represents the best of Sacramento a gathering place devoid of lines.

No one is likely to remember your name, but I think you’ll be glad you came.

The Mercantile Saloon is located at 1928 L St, (19th and L) Sacramento, CA 95811