I have been to all kinds of different gay bars over the years.
I’ve been to country and western bars. I’ve been to dance clubs. I’ve been to little holes in the wall in the East Village and dives on the Upper West Side. I’ve been to ones where people seemed to be having a good time, and others where the guys all seemed to want to do nothing but stand around and look attractive, waiting for someone they perceived to be equally attractive to approach them.
I find that last kind of bar tedious. I’ve heard them referred to as “S&M” bars, meaning “stand and model.” (I know that there are S&M bars in the more commonly-understood sense of the term, but… um… yeah, that’s really not my scene.) (But no judgments, y’all. No judgments.) I remember one such place back in New York where it seemed like there was this periphery of guys standing around with another set of guys walking around and around and around one orbit in, everyone checking each other out over and over and over.
The place I went most often back in the day had a tiny little dance floor that was always too crowded, and played a mix of new tunes and old hits. (They eventually renovated, and some time after I moved away closed down. It was a bummer to return to my old stomping grounds and find it gone.) I loved it there. When I moved to New York, there were a handful of places where I’d go, but nowhere that felt so truly mine.
These days, it’s a piano bar. On those occasions when the Better Half and I choose to mingle with the ‘mos, our most frequent destination is a piano bar at the seaside location favored by dudes of our ilk.
The last time we went, I reached a conclusion. When one is in a piano bar, one has two mutually exclusive possible options. One can:
1) Stand on one’s dignity, or
2) Have a good time.
If what you want to do is stand around looking unapproachably hot, what’s the point in going to a piano bar? No, the fun of going to a piano bar is abandoning all pretense of trying to act straight, and instead turning up the flame to an exuberant purple blaze. It’s demonstrating to other people that you do, in fact, know all the lyrics to “It’s My Party” and “Copa Cabana” and are willing to belt them both out in the company of a bunch of other people doing the same thing. Every time we go, I look forward to singing the “I’m no one’s wife, but oooooooh, I love my life” part of “All That Jazz.” (They always play “All That Jazz.”)
At our wedding, we got one of the piano players from the bar for the reception. And I sang “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina.”
So that’s this week’s Question — where do you go to be unabashedly unencumbered in some way you usually keep under wraps? If one can be flamingly [your adjective], where can others toast imaginary marshmallows in the warmth of your glow?