Long-running Studio City-based nightclub renowned for its gay country-line, latin & salsa, and 70's & 80's disco dancing and dancing lessons. The venue has hosted or partnered with numerous LGBTQ organizations, such as: the Wranglers, LA Rodeo, LA Band of Brothers, Silverstreak Softball, Los Angeles Leather Coalition, Gay Men’s Choir, Christopher St. West/LA Pride, and Valley Pride.
"When Oil Can Harry's opened in Studio City in 1968, it was illegal in Los Angeles for two men or two women to dance together," said 2nd District Councilman Paul Krekorian. The bar had a famous spyhole in the entry door and an internal siren system that workers used to alert patrons to a police presence, allowing them to halt same-sex dancing or activity.
Oil Can Harry's was known for its large wooden dance floor, where LGBTQ+ patrons would line-dance and even receive free classes during the early hours of the evening. (No cocktails were allowed on the floor.) The upstairs lounge hosted karaoke. Over the years, its famous dancing patrons included RuPaul, k.d. lang, and Geena Davis.
In 1999, a scene from the movie Happy, Texas was filmed here, and featured regulars from the club as extras. The bar was also the setting of the Haim music video, "Little of Your Love."
The owners announced the nightclub's closure via the Oil Can Harry’s website (oilcanharrysla.com) on 4 Jan 2021:
“Happy New Year to all!
2021 has not brought great news to Oil Can Harry’s: The property sold in December, thanks to Monty [sic] [Overstreet] and Jon just needing to shut down another establishment. It was purchased on December 9th by a new buyer, who wants to have their own venue with jazz music.
So, at this time I have to vacate the property--nothing bad or ugly, just something I have to do.
I fought hard to keep it, but just had to give up... Not sure where it will lead down the road.
Thank you all for this beautiful gift that we shared for 52 years.
Please, no negative posts on social media! It only hurts. Only positive would help!
Any help would be wonderful... 🌈🌈🌈😥😥😥”
In April 2022, the Los Angeles City Council designated the building a historic-cultural monument in a 14-0 vote. Councilman Joe Buscaino was absent. Of the more than 1,200 Historic-Cultural Monuments in the City of Angels, Oil Can Harry's is only the third LGBTQ+ structure that has received the designation. The other two are the Black Cat and the Mattachine Steps.
Gay Guide '71: (P) (D) (YC) *; Barfly West '73: C. D. E. L. Y.
Bob Damron: (YC) (Disco) (D) (Closed Mon. & Tues.) (Liquor)