The Beauty of A Gay Bar in a Blizzard
Winter storm Jonas blew his way across the East Coast three weekends ago and blanketed us in what might have been the second-heaviest snowfall in the meteorological history of New York City. Almost 30 inches of white accumulated on the ground, parked cars and anyone who stood outside long enough to get covered in it.
By Saturday morning, with the blizzard already doing its thing, Facebook posts from the gay bars of New York began popping up.
“Yes! Of course we’re open!! Our best nights are snowy ones. DJ Jon Ali and the Barracuda boys are here and ready to go!” – Chelsea’s Barracuda Lounge
“We’re here if you need us! (Smiley face and snowman emoji)” – Therapy
Hardware Bar, the home of my weekly Broadway Mondays party, even put out a fantastic flyer with the massive header “C’MON, JONAS!” complete with penguins and an iceberg, offering “super-cheap” drink specials until 9 p.m.
Were they crazy? Some wondered. It was a blizzard! Why would they be open as roads were shutting down and trains were going out of commission? Who the hell would be insane enough to go to a gay bar in this storm?
The surprising answer: more guys than you’d probably expect.
This was not a new trend. As long as I’ve been a resident of Gay New York, bars and clubs have always opened up in the middle of crazy storms. Why? Because the boys of New York get desperately cabin-fevered, and need to go out, as soon as they are made aware of the fact that getting outdoors is something they’ve been advised not to do.
What can I say? We are an adventurous breed. We don’t like mayors or snowstorms telling us what we can or cannot do. And after about six hours in our apartments we start yanking our hair out and realize just how small our 400-square-foot apartments truly are.
Also, there is something so beautiful and fun about a gay bar in a snowstorm. We are all crazy, brave, alcohol-loving guys who refuse to let the elements deny us a margarita or vodka soda. We are New Yorkers! We do not give up. We do not bow down. We eat our pizza with our hands. And we go out in psychotic blizzards to get drinks and possibly score a cuddle buddy for the evening in case we all get buried alive!
And there’s something so resilient about putting on your boots and plowing though the accumulated frozen stuff to get to your local bar. You feel successful. You feel silly. And you meet a lot of very interesting people who are just like you: guys who went out in a snowstorm because it was either crazy, cool or whatever other reason.
I’ll never forget my first snowstorm bar foray. It was probably five years ago. I literally walked from my Hell’s Kitchen apartment down to the legendary Splash Bar just because I refused to miss the weekly Musical Mondays party. I jumped over slush puddles. Scaled snowdrifts. Tripped, slipped and fell. I finally reached the bar looking like Frosty the snowman, and it took me at least 10 minutes to completely thaw.
But it was so worth it. The club was packed. Sure, the floor was covered in puddles, and we were not looking forward to our trip back uptown, but that didn’t matter. We had made it. We felt like we had conquered the storm. We drank extra that night. And the drunken trek back home was actually more fun than the stumble down to the bar.
If you didn’t brave the blizzard this time, if you just stayed home with wine and Netflix and tormented some poor Seamless delivery guy, I recommend you consider trying it if New York finds itself in another one. It’ll be a cold, hard slog to whatever bar you choose. You’ll be freezing. You won’t feel your hands. You may catch a cold.
But the crazy people you meet when you get there will be a certain type of New Yorker you’ll love, one just like you. And you’ll always have the story to tell your children and friends.
XO Justin Luke
Justin Luke is one of New York’s premiere gay party producers and promoters. He is also a six-time published author and entrepreneur. Visit JustinLukeNYC.com for more info.