I honestly can’t even remember what time it was when we finally got back to Cortez’s condo in the 5th Ward. It had been foggy for the past two days and I was way too drunk to drive to another bar. He lived in what used to be the gay district, but gentrification was having its way with the neighborhood, leaving it covered with cranes and For Sale signs. Apparently the decision to walk down to National Ave to hit up another bar was made without too much debate. We headed out into the fog to get another drink before going to sleep.
The bars on National are mostly old factory worker haunts from the days when the area was an industrial center of the city. Over the years the jobs were shipped overseas and the factories closed, leaving the area downtrodden. We turned off 1st St onto National, finding that it was more difficult than anticipated to find a bar that we wouldn’t be shot in. After another block or so we debated turning around and giving up when Cortez heard some strange music coming from what looked like a front door.
“It says ‘Must be 21 to Enter’ therefore it’s a bar dude, regardless of what it looks like.”
At this point I was ready to go back and pass out, but he was insistent, saying now he was curious what the deal with the bar was. The door opened and out came the trendy sounding techno music and thick smoke.
“This is a fucking strange bar,” I said.
“Oh it gets better,” Cortez said, staring up at the ceiling.
I looked up to find a gigantic fluorescent pink triangle lit by a black light and by the time my eyes reached bar level again it was apparent. The fact that there was no sign on the door and no women in the bar led me to the only logical conclusion. I was in the middle of a gay bar.
Now we didn’t turn and run out the door screaming only to return some minutes later with a crowd brandishing pitchforks and torches, we were just a bit surprised. So we walked up to the bar and sat down, figuring we came for a beer and we were getting one regardless of the sexual persuasion of the patrons. The bartender who walked up to us looked confused,
“You boys do know where you’re at…right?”
“We do now, that’s cool though we still want a High Life.”
We sat and talked to the bartender while we drank our beers, noticing that we were being stared at by every single person in the bar. He was quite nice to us, partly due to the fact we didn’t start running when we walked in. We finished our beers and were about to leave when he told us to wait.
“I’ll make you guys a drink on me for being cool, not many people stay when they come in by accident.”
He disappeared behind the bar for a second before spinning back around with two fruity looking drinks.
“A little gay humor for ya boys…Sex on the Beach, on me.”