By Shaun Melady

About two months ago I moved up to the homo-saturated NYC from what my former Midwestern friends called the “urethra of the United States” (I would use different terminology, but I’ll keep it classy for the intro article): Florida. I moved up from Orlando, where the go-to gay destinations were Disney World, Parliament House, Southern Nights and the always remembered and loved, Pulse, along with a few other bars that rendered the title LGBT.

These establishments were pivotal in my coming out experience and dabbling into the magic gaydom, and I would not trade my life in Orlando for the world. I’m extremely grateful for all that it has taught me and what it had to offer, but once I moved up here and saw the giant Big Gay Ice Cream Shop sign plastered in the middle of the West Village, I then realized that my theme park-going self was in for a whole new world (puns definitely intended).

Orlando has prepared me, on a different level, for dive bars and packed nightlife facilities, but it did not prepare me for the caliber and popularity of them. I’ve had my run-of-the-mill drunken nights with my low-calorie vodka water with lime in the earlier mentioned Florida hotspots, but not the way New York does it. The drinks are smaller, yet stronger. The people are shoulder to shoulder and dancing—quite literally, actually, because the quarters are so snug and intimate. If you don’t believe me, check out this place called Industry. The vodka water helped because I was sweating like crazy. #CaloriesDon’tCountAtIndustry

This is a whole new experience.

Over the weekend, I was able to experience the less crowded yet fun-filled Boots and Saddle bar to start off the night. The drag queens who were present were even greater and more willing to put on a show for less people, less money and more lighting than I have seen before. They livened the crowd enough to where I saw this guy standing next to the performing queen drop down into a full-blown split. Like…what? First, I was impressed by the energy that filled the dull-lit room. Second, I was saying to myself, “There would be no way in hell that I could drop to a split, because I would be in the ER.”

The second point is a topic for a different day. Where are my yoga friends? I need your help.

As I’m adjusting to this gigantic island, and pretending I’m Carrie Bradshaw, I’m soaking in all of what NYC has to offer to a fresh, young, gay man and am excited to experience the journey of a lifetime here. As my Orlando queen, Roxxxy Andrews, once said on “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” “Where my people at?”

Follow me on Twitter and Instagram: @ShaunMelady