I promised to be observant at the gay bars I went to while Fernando was visiting to try and see exactly what it was that made me uncomfortable. And I have to say I’m glad I did it because things turned out not to be as bad as I remembered them.
The first night we were in Prague the club was next to dead, so there wasn’t much to observe besides the relief that swept over me when we descended down the stairs into the club below only to find it almost entirely empty. Ferdi and I then went to another club that was equally vacant, so really the whole night was a bust in terms of observations, though we still had a fun time hanging out.
The next night (when I ventured into the darkroom) the place was packed, and that familiar feeling of discomfort invaded my body when I saw how long the line was before we even got in the door.
The first thing I noticed were the stares. Given that the LGBT community is smaller than the community at large, you usually run into a lot of the same people at the gay bars—at least that was always my experience at the gay bars in Austin. So when fresh meat walks in, people tend to notice. And I can’t stand how that fresh meat look feels. It makes my skin crawl.
As I mentioned in the other post on Prague, Ferdi’s boss and a friend of the boss also happened to be in town at the same time we were. They arrived at the bar before we did, so once Ferdi spotted them we grabbed drinks and headed over to where they were standing. They were both really cool guys, and with the four of us engaged in conversation I forgot where I was. In those moments where we were together—regardless of whether it was the four of us or fewer as the night progressed and we all found someone to hook up with—it was like hanging out in any other place with people I found interesting. Well, except for the music.
One of my biggest sticking points has always been the typical poppy music that blares from the speakers in gay clubs. I can take a dose of überpoppy stuff every now and then and in the right setting, but bubblegum pop just isn’t my thing—especially when I go out dancing. Granted, gay bars aren’t the only venues where such music is played, but I find that most hetero or mixed clubs play a wider assortment of tunes. In a lot of gay bars it seems to be all princess pop, all the time.
There were a couple occasions where I found myself alone on the dance floor, and in those moments I reverted to feeling uncomfortable. I used to be a dancer, so I move pretty well, and in straight clubs I don’t ever have a problem dancing alone. So what’s my deal in the gay clubs?
I think it’s because girls are less likely to come over and jump on my shit when I’m dancing alone. Obviously it happens, but not to the same extent as guys at the gay bars. Twice my balls were grabbed on the dance floor in Prague: once by some guy who wanted to dance with me, and once by a guy who had stepped on my foot and felt the need to grab me while he apologized for having stepped on my foot. Twice in one night at the gay club, but I’m hard pressed to recall a single time a girl ever came up and did that to me. Later on in the night perhaps, after we’d chatted and danced a bit as a prelude to heading out to shag, but not right away before a single word had ever been exchanged between us.
From the other Prague post you’ll have noticed that despite my reservations regarding being in a gay bar in the first place, I had no qualms about heading back into the darkroom to get my dick sucked. And if I’m honest it seems a little unfair of me to feel uncomfortable due to the guys’ sexual forwardness only to then take advantage of the sexual liberalness that is the darkroom. Then again, I wouldn’t have a problem going into a darkroom with a woman either, so maybe it’s not as unfair as I think.
For me the biggest difference was the people I was hanging out with. True, I had just met two of them that night, but hanging with them wasn’t like how it was with the group of guys I used to hang with in Austin. From the very beginning the guys in Austin were catty, talked shit about pretty much everyone they laid eyes on in the club, and were generally just not good-spirited people. In contrast, the two guys in Prague didn’t make fun of anyone and offered pleasant conversation.
And looking back, I wouldn’t hang out with that old group in any club, gay or straight. In that context it was definitely the people and not the venue, but that then is my fault for not finding other people in the place who were on the same wavelength as me.
But let’s go back to the sexual charge in the air because it’s the sexual tension that gets me, the desire written all over someone’s face that reduces me to a sexual object. I know that sounds odd coming from me, but hear me out. When I go out to a club, I go because I want to dance, not to hook up. I might hook up from time to time, but I go to shake it. I prefer to prowl elsewhere. Yet so many people I know go out with the sole – or at least primary – intention of hooking up.
In gay bars I see, I feel the objectification that so many girl friends experience in their club encounters. Not that women don’t objectify men in clubs as well, but somehow it’s different, less invasive and predatory. Several women have told me they really enjoy going to gay bars because the hunter isn’t after them and they can just relax and have a good time. I suppose that would be why I then prefer the club setting in which the man on the prowl has turned his attention back to the female.
And like I said, when I go out to a club I go to dance. If the sexual objectification makes me feel uncomfortable, the lack of interest in the music playing equally keeps me away. The former won’t let me let loose, the latter prevents me from wanting to do so.
Overall the Prague experience was in no way unpleasant; the general lack of feeling uncomfortable on my end was in fact a pleasant surprise. But this was actually just the beginning because Ferdi wants to take me to Fire Island – which is apparently a popular gay destination – when I visit him in New York this summer. From some of the stories he’s told me about the place, Fire Island will be the real test of my fortitude.