Switch was opened by Craig in 1999 (he owned it prior to that as a straight bar). It had big windows facing west. Many of us remember when gay bars always closed off the windows to the outside. (M&M started the trend of big open windows.) It was fun sitting by the windows watching the night life as you could see who was coming and going from LaCage, Orbit and Fluid.
There was a good sized patio just outside the back door with a nice sized bar out there. A canvas tent kept part of it semi-private from the outside, and kept the sun from roasting people. There were about 6 picnic tables for people to sit and enjoy the sunshine. At night it was dimly lit and quite cozy. Many weekends Switch hosted “Foam Parties”. That meant that cloths were optional as long as you were in the foam. There were plenty of stories as to what happened below the foam level. The bar had a small dance floor in the back that also housed the dart games and the only photo booth I have ever seen in a Milwaukee gay bar. Plenty of “interesting” photos came out of that booth.
Switch was somewhat of a sports bar after In Between closed. Much of In Between’s clientele chose Switch as their new sports bar including Curt Peck who owned In Between. Curt, in his goofy Packer hats, pretty much ran all the Packer Parties at Switch.
For Halloween night Switch participate in the Halloween Night Bar Crawl. Costume contests were started at Triangle, then migrated to Switch, to Fluid, and finally ending at LaCage with grand prizes for best costume. It was nice to have all four bars working together like that.
Switch was a favorite for those guys into seeing some skin. In its later years, it had regular "stripper" nights, with 2 or 3 strippers on hand taking turns dancing for the crowd. It was also expected from the typically "hot" bartenders that they go shirtless much of their shift, and thus attracted no shortage of regulars there for the eye candy.
View excerpts of the Switch website as of November 2005.
Switch closed in July 2008 after the owner of Steny's (the straight bar across the street) made Curt too good an offer for him to pass up. (A few "reunion" parties were held at Jack's Bar in 2009.)
Recollections: The following are recollections of others who have been kind enough to submit their personal memories to the webmaster. You are welcome to do the same! (Recollections collected and organized by Jamie Taylor.)
---> "I used to love going to Switch for karaoke nights. It was such a small intimate bar that while you were singing, you could have the whole bar
singing along. I've got plenty of pictures via that photo booth. No other gay bar had one so it was a nice addition."
"I lost interest in Switch in its later years. I went in there a few times and it just wasn’t the same as it was in the earlier years. Switch closed in 2008 and is now undergoing a huge remodeling and is owned by the people who own Steny’s. They are extending the building over what used to be the patio. I am told it is going to be the Dubliner, a bar/restaurant similar to Steny’s with a different theme."
Credits: Bar history written by Jamie Taylor and from Facebook group;
Website contents, design and arrangement by Don Schwamb.
Last updated: August-2020.
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