Saturday, March 31, 2012

Reflections on the Demise of the Gay Dance Club

The gay dance club is dead.  It has been dead for a least two years now due to several influences, so ggod, some bad, and some due to changing times and attitudes.  There is no place where men can go and dance with other like-minded men to the greatest hits of the day.  Let's follow the clues and see where it leads us.  I just have anecdotal evidence, and have not compiled a CSI-like train of clues to lead to the killer.

Dateline Palm Springs 2012- Toucan's Tiki Lounge
This place, ostensibly a gay bar,  has a small dance floor and a large tiki bar atmosphere. The DJs range from so-so to fabulous depending on the night. ON the surface, it sounds great. Once inside, clues began to appear that this place had a clientele change.  On the video screen was a reminder that this place was a gay bar, never a good sign. Who were they reminding? I knew where I was. Second clue, large coteries of straight women, spinning around a girl either in a crown or bridal veil, proudly proclaiming that hey were there for a bachelorette party.  I watched a single man try and pick up a single woman. I watched as straight women dragged their GBFs (Gay Best Friend) onto the dance floor since their boyfriends would not dance. I watched as signs of the polite society disappeared, such as bar tabs requiring two forms of ID and no real glass barware. The final clue, a good-looking gay guy and friend of mine, asks me to dance with him so that the straight women will stop bumping and grinding up against him and he can meet someone gay.

Part of the mainstreaming and acceptance of gays is the fact that straight people will feel comfortable around us and come out and party with us. A good thing, overall, but the distress of seeing spots disappear that allow gay men to party and be themselves is overwhelming at times.  Straight women, mainly twenty-something city dwellers and suburban housewives, who were our first allies, wanted to come to our clubs to party without worrying about being hit on by skeevy guys.  Their boyfriends and husbands were not threatened by us.  This started as a once in awhile type thing. Then they decided to bring their friends, their own parties, and their boyfriends/husbands.  These straight men, while trying to be brave, added an undesirable element in that they were uncomfortable and afraid of being hit on or afraid of NOT being hit on. These straight men brought their judgements and comments with them, when seeing two men either dance together or, heaven forbid, kiss each other.

Now if I hear about a hot gay dance club in town, I do go and check it out. Here is what I see, a line around the block of straight women in provocative attire and if I manage to get into the club, there are maybe five gay men and that is it. If I wanted to spend my evening dancing with straight women, I would go to one of the straight dance clubs. Almost all of my night spots are experiencing this takeover. My husband, my friends, and I heave a collective sigh as we watch yet another drunken bridal party enter our clubs, hog the dance floor, completely surround the go-go boys, and  stomp on our evening and force us out of our own clubs. A couple of clubs in Washington DC tried to do something about it by outlawing bridal parties or restricting entry in other ways. This was only partly successful and I am sure is a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Dance bars in major metropolitan areas I have been to recently have either closed because they became straight bars on the nights when people go out and lost all of their gay business during other nights or have put up sign all over the place stating that this is a gay bar and have instituted more security than the Michael Jackson trial.

I value all of our straight allies and love them for the hearts and minds they help us win over towards full equality. This just does not mean I want to party with them all of the time.  Sometimes, I just want to dance with my "sisters" on a crowded dance floor. Is that so wrong?

1 comment:

  1. Sadly, I agree with this reflection. Having come out later in life due to incredible social and religious pressures, getting to "dance with my sisters on a crowded dance floor" is HARD TO COME BY... unless you can afford to cruise with Atlantis or RSVP on a regular basis... ALL I WANT IS A TREE-HOUSE TO PLAY WITH MY FRIENDS IN ONCE AND AWHILE.