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No Name Bar

By 1961, the City of Sausalito had become the party hot-spot in Marin County

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The Sausalito ‘No Name Bar’ has a colorful history at: 757 Bridgeway. This Sausalito neighborhood hang-out has been in the same location since 1959. Throughout the 1960s and 70s, this location was one of the favorite watering holes for famed musicians to stop at, when in town on business or vacations. Today, this small location with the time-worn wooden furniture is a hot-spot for live music, eclectic atmosphere and Bay Area fun.

The name history of ‘No Name’ bars:

In the days before Christopher Columbus sailed away to meet the original populations in America, alcoholic beverages and fermented fruit drinks were a popular substitute for bad tasting water in many global communities. As with all traditional occupations, experts in the field of creating the best tasting drinks were in the position of making these beverages to trade for essentials to others who were less adept at making fine liquid refreshments.

Before the commoners were taught to read, neighborhood drink makers would place a visual marker outside of their dwellings to alert all thirsty people that the refreshment recipe had finished its cycle. The cooking pot, bent tree branch or other type of sign was notice to all that it was time to sit with friends and enjoy the drink maker’s products. As time passed, neighborhood bars evolved to include more formalized versions of signs.

The first types of city bars in America used picture signs that displayed an image that could be seen and understood by people from all language backgrounds. Drinking bars in residential neighborhoods did not display bar-oriented signs as a form of respect to all non-drinking community members that passed through the area. Instead, neighborhood bars would display ‘no name’ signs with images or names that often held two meanings.

From the days when tavern signs remained unlit through the early days of flashy neon bar-sign lighting, neighborhood bars often chose to stay nameless as a sign of respect to the community. Before neon became popular during the latter years of the first Great Depression in America, the USA had banned drinking. Neighborhood bars could only exist through flying under the radar; bars with no name were popular during Prohibition.

After Prohibition as neighborhood bars expanded and grew, flashier signs were added; however, some patrons preferred their old-time watering holes to remain as nameless entities. As city ordinances increased, county requirements expanded and the tax official found ways to increase their coffers, some saloons, taverns and pubs managed to save on fees through not registering a fictitious name for their businesses. Today, most nameless bars are fixed neighborhood gathering spots where friends enjoy meeting with friends.

Sausalito: No Name Bar

Neil Davis was the owner of the Sausalito No Name Bar during its glory days between 1959 and 1973. After World War II, the semi-isolated San Francisco Bay community of Sausalito attracted artists, free-spirits and the talented individuals who were members of the counterculture groups of that era. The underground music scene included folk singers, jazz musicians and pre-rock experimental groups that knew how to keep crowds hopping.

By 1961, the City of Sausalito had become the party hot-spot in Marin County. The No Name Bar offered live jazz music, poetry readings and an intimate place for friends to gather; Trident Restaurant had been opened by the Kinston Trio and Zack’s was only a short walk away. With the No Name Bar offering an open mike policy, every performer in town on vacation, or with a working gig, arrived to help with the jam at the Bar.

Between 1960 and today, the No Name Bar in Sausalito has been frequented by known names such as: Spike Africa, Eartha Kitt, Charles Mingus, Woody Harrelson, Clint Eastwood, Geraldine Page, Jefferson Airplane, Bob Dylan, Alice Cooper and legends speak of activist Margo St. James receiving her mail at the bar 757 Bridgeway address. At the No Name Bar, it was impossible to know who would be next through the door.

The years between the end of World War II and 1971 were considered to be the golden years at bars in Sausalito due to the ferry situation. With the Sausalito population so small after the war efforts ceased, the community did not receive reliable ferry transportation. This left the tight-knit community of artistic souls semi-isolated from surrounding towns. When outside artists came into Sausalito, it was for the purpose of enjoying themselves.

After ferry services returned to Sausalito in 1972, the artist community was opened to rapid growth and a need to conform; however, at the No Name Bar, the open mike policy continued to stand. As the community grew into a trendy bayside village, the No Name neighborhood bar was left unchanged and a place where surprises still happen when recognizable people stop-in to visit this locally famous and nameless Sausalito hot-spot.

About the Sausalito ‘No Name Bar’ today:

For information about the No Name Bar current music schedule each week, it is easy to phone the bar for information. The open mike policy is still in place and there are often planned shows that include classical jazz, modern jazz, Dixieland jazz, traditional blues, modern blues, surprises and good old rock ‘n’ roll.

The No Name Bar has new owners, after being open for over 50-years. It is always easy to find something happening at this location, almost every night of the week. Drinks of all kinds are served in the mid-price ranges and there is an enclosed outdoor smoking area. Metered street parking and nearby parking lots provide easy access to the door.

No cover charges are in place for most No Name Bar activities; the staff is friendly and the drinks are mixed without a watered-down taste. The worn wooden furniture and eclectic wall decorations lend charm to this old-format open mike jazz bar. Adults of all ages and background often enjoy visiting the historic Sausalito No Name Bar.

 

No Name Bar
757 Bridgeway
Sausalito, California
Phone: (415) 332-1392

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Photos copyright by Jay Graham Photographer