Monday, November 7, 2011

Piloting the Los Angeles Gay Bar Scene – Silver Lake vs. West Hollywood


This article was originally published in gaytravel.com on May 5. Check it out here.

Having lived here for almost five years, I can confidently tell you that gay men in Los Angeles are a curious bunch. To be fair, Angelenos are a peculiar bouquet en masse and while everything you’ve heard about us is completely true, there is the occasional well-kept secret. Geographically speaking, the city is wedged between the desert and the ocean and is really more like a sprawling suburb than a bustling metropolis. The ubiquitous queers are spread out with rainbow flags flying in every quadrant. In fact, there’s so much gay in Los Angeles that for a newbie, navigating the scenes can prove a bit daunting. Where to go? What to do? And, heaven, what to wear?

While visiting our fair shores you’ll certainly enjoy sporting speedos with the boys at Will Rogers Beach or billiards with guys at The Rooster Fish in Venice. Perhaps two-stepping with the gents at Oil Can Harry’s in Studio City? There are, however, two dominant gay scenes on either side of town you’d be remiss to miss: West Hollywood and her easterly sister, Silver Lake.

West Hollywood and Silver Lake are two houses, both alike in dignity. Dissimilar as they are parallel, they each boast their own diverse gay nightclub scene often sneering at the others antics, actions, and tricks. Either way, the menu is quite attractive and interesting: West Hollywood boasts cliquey muscle boys, shaved chests, and coiffed tresses in a vodka soda sauce garnished with a touch of disdain. In easterly Silver Lake the suits-by-day daddies mix with the hipster queers in a manly aromatic foam-party dance-off breaded with bearded armpit romance. There is very little in between. Among the natives, there are the occasional Romeos who manage to cross the line and play both scenes, but for generalization’s sake, you’re a Shark or you’re a Jet. You walk and talk and dance with the lionesses of your pride.

I’m cynical by nature, but it’s all quite fun if you’re drunk enough. I also firmly believe that there is more to being gay than bar stools and Long Island Iced Tea, but I can’t seem to remember what that is at the moment.

If you’re vacationing in LaLa Land and you enjoy tapping your toe at the odd disco, you should certainly check out both scenes.  Make sure to get a hotel near the scene you think you’ll prefer because public transportation in Los Angeles is a touch dodgy, cabs are expensive, and drinking and driving is so 2007. The token night you do venture more east or west of your hotel to meet the other scene queens, remember that they make look, act, and smell differently, but they all kiss the same. So buckle in with your Jack and Coke and enjoy the fabulous delusion that the Los Angeles gay bar scene has to offer.

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