After peeking in the front door of this place for years, decades really, I’m so proud to say that I finally joined. I’m an Eagle. Actually, I’m a member of the Women’s Auxiliary because that’s how it works. Men are Eagles and women are part of the auxiliary group. It’s seriously old school.
The process of joining took several months. You need to have two sponsors, who are already members, and of the same gender as you. That was a little tricky for me, since I only knew one woman who was a member, but I heard that someone else was Leadership Mountain View alumni, so I emailed her, a nice stranger, and asked her to be a sponsor for me. I still owe her drink.
The application and interview process went just fine and the official swearing in ceremony was interesting. There were 6 women who were sworn in on the night I was, and we were asked to sit in the kitchen until the officers were ready for us. About 10 minutes later, we filed out of the back kitchen area and joined the ceremony. We took the oath, and swore that we would be upstanding members and that we wouldn’t embarrass the organization in any way.
I got my membership card and badge a few weeks later.
Eagles may look like any other bar downtown, if you peek in as you’re walking down Castro; I thought that at first, too. It’s not. It’s a vibrant social organization that donates all the money they make to charity. Any member can host an event there and decide what charity the proceeds will be donated to. For example, once a month is Karaoke night and one member, Pam, said that she wanted to collect donations ($) and she would donate all of it to victims of the fires in Sonoma county. Everyone pulled out their wallets and handed over whatever they could afford. She collected almost $250.00 in about 5 minutes and then she sang her heart out. It was awesome.
There are one or two paid bartenders, but the rest are volunteers. Members bus their own tables and clean up after themselves.
Jello shots are a big deal at the Eagles. I hadn’t actually had a jello shot for the last decade, but apparently, the trend never died at the Eagles, and all of the proceeds go to charity, so it seems like the right thing to do. If you’re lucky, you’ll score a watermelon jello shot, and bragging that you got the last one is perfectly acceptable. Don't worry, since everyone knows each other, it’s much more friendly than other bars.
How old are the members? There are plenty of people who have been members for decades, and there are also lots of new, younger members, people who work for the city, downtown tech companies, a wide variety, just like any other Silicon Valley "social organization." It seemed to me that the a group ranged in age from 20s up to 70s. One guy, Chris, told me “we’re all like family. Everyone gets along with each other, but just like any other family, there might be that one cousin who you just don’t feel like talking to.” Yup, I know.
I went on Friday night because, like I mentioned, I knew it was karaoke night and someone from my office planned on singing. He did and it was awesome! When I left, I stopped and looked back at the front of the building and the door was open and it truly sounded like the people inside were having way more fun than all the rest of Castro street. The sidewalk was packed with people looking for someplace to go, either to eat or drink, or both, and Eagles was the busiest, noisiest spot on the whole street. It’s no surprise that lots of people stopped to take a look inside as they were wandering down the street.
I’m honored to be part of the organization and looking forward to some fun happy hours in my future. I’ve met about 10 or 15 other members and I think I’m going to fit in quite well. If you’re interested in joining, or at least checking it out, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more info: https://www.foe.com/ or their Facebook page. Fraternal Order of Eagles is located at 181 Castro Street. That's the hottest block in town. Really.