For one evening I decided to go 'straight'—to a straight nightclub that is. My girlfriends wanted to go to a nightclub, and I decided to tag along. It was a small favor for the many times they've accompanied me out to gay bars. Of course the evening did start off with an 8:30 p.m. fabulous drag show at The Baton Show Lounge, so the evening wasn't entirely straight.
The only nightclubs I've ever gone to are gay, so I was a little nervous. I expected it to be less sexual and drama free. I wasn't sure if this nightspot had a dress code, so I dressed in low-rise Diesel jeans, Von Dutch mock t-shirt that reads 'You Biatch,' an Armani Exchange sports coat, and my favorite pair of Steve Madden sneakers. Because I was dragged to the club by friends, I asked them to pay for my entrance; however, I did ask that they allow me to hand the money to the attendant so that it appeared as if I was the 'man' when we got past the velvet rope. If this wasn't a gay club, I was going to play it straight. (giggles)
Once I got inside, I realized that all of my preconceived notions were completely wrong. The music was pulsating, but most people were just standing around the dance floor. There was a crowd of guys grooving with each other—a little homoerotic, but still very straight. Before long, the dance floor began to fill, and my friends and I began to drink. The DJ announced, 'Ladies dancing on the bar get one free shot!' Before he could end his sentence, one girl was already up there showing more than just her assets. Guys were groping girls on the dance floor, left and right. I could see guys putting their hands up girl's skirts. The girls were also getting their groove on by grinding. My idea that gay clubs are scandalous was diminished. Roscoe's is nothing compared to the action at this club.
A guy walked up to my friend and asked if she wanted a drink; she said 'no thanks!' Two seconds later he was already trying to get some other girl a drink. I found that this happened frequently. If one girl said no, the guy would quickly move on to another. One guy in particular harassed my friends to get up on the bar and dance. When I saw their hesitation, I found myself having to pull them away from the guy who just didn't get the point.
When the DJ started to play Britney's 'Toxic' song, I just couldn't resist. I pulled my friend Karla onto the dance floor and tried to forget where I was, trying to ignore that I was still uncomfortable about appearing too 'gay'. However, when I saw the group of guys still dancing with each other, I decided that I would just be myself for the rest of the night.
Outkast's 'Hey Ya' song cut into the mix and the whole club erupted. Everyone was dancing, pushing, and, out of nowhere, fighting. I couldn't believe it! I know some gay men who are fierce, vicious, and catty, but this was completely classless. Security was hauled in and the men where escorted out. Self-claimed homophobe 50 cent's 'In Da Club' transitioned House beats to a more hip-hop flavored play list. As I tried to 'get-down', someone interrupted me! It was two other girlfriends who also happened to be at the same club. I was ecstatic! Suddenly, I didn't feel alone anymore. My friend yelled out, 'What are you doing here!' I said, 'I got dragged here!' We shared a laugh. She said, 'Yeah my girl just ditched me,' I said, 'Bitch, I saw him, I would have ditched you too!' Obviously, the drinks I had earlier were kicking in. I kept thinking to myself, 'This is a big city; it's not a farm out in the middle of nowhere. What am I so worried about? Being gay is cool now; I mean we are everywhere right? We have TV shows now!' As the night wound down, I began to get tired, my legs were sore from dancing around. We ended up staying till 4 a.m. As we left the club I jokingly told my friends, 'I can't believe it is 4 a.m., and I still haven't gotten laid!' I didn't get laid, but I did leave the club with a very different perspective of gay culture.
Gay culture isn't on Halsted Street between Belmont and Addison. That's club culture. Gay or straight, clubs are pretty similar. Full of people trying to find someone to drink and dance with or simply a place where friends hang out. The one thing we have in common is the nicotine smell on our clothes. Often, the media tries to categorize gay culture as disco divas, gay bars, leather bars, and sex shops. But these things are just a small segment. Linking the most outrageous floats at the gay pride parade to gay culture is like linking Mardi Gras to straight culture. Our community is diverse. There are lots of GLBTs who don't go to bars or take part in the annual parade. This doesn't mean they aren't a part of our community or active members in the fight for equality. They just represent the other side of our diversity.
Straight and gay bars and clubs are the same, except we have better music and cuter guys! Next time I go to a gay club, I'll be more appreciative of the music, more aware of the diversity, and more forgiving of the cruisers. After all, it's no more wholesome than the straight clubs.
Garcia is a local artist and painter who spends his Sundays washing the nicotine smell out of his clothes. www.emmanuelgarcia.com