December 31, 1994
New Year’s Eve! I was single and would be ringing in the New Year with a friend of mine and a roommate. The party plans were vague, but looked strong on paper. We were to go to Santa Barbara, 70 miles up the coast, and party on State Street. Hop from bar to bar before finally settling into one to our liking for the midnight culmination. What our planning failed to take into consideration was the overabundant crowds and inability even to gain entrance to many bars and clubs.
We tried to get in to a few clubs but were unable due to overstuffing beyond allowable fire capacity. In addition to reservation-only arrangements, under which some clubs were operating on this very busy night, we were on the cusp of dejection. It was under this dark cloud we heard a large partying congregation down a side street. With our prospects already dim, we approached. Sure enough, New Year’s Eve revelers spilling out of a club! The place sounded great inside, like a great raging party. We paid our entrance fee and entered.
We were very pleased that our New Year’s rambunctious intent was not to be a lost cause. We victoriously walked to the bar and ordered up a round of drinks. The club was pretty cool, and also very large. The dance floor was off near the back of the club, the music was loud, and good. With hooch in hand we headed for the dance floor. It was here we realized the unexpected.
We’ve all been to a club where the only folks dancing might be a few ladies. Perhaps a group of three or so dancing with each other. This was not only the reverse, but to a whole new extreme. It was predominantly guys, by a generous ratio, and they were dancing with each other. This seemed odd to me. But it didn’t yet dawn on me until I was mentally able to wrap my brains around the way they were dancing with each other. Provacatively. The men were dancing close enough clearly disregarding the publicly acceptable bounds for one’s courtesy space. This was a club that catered to gay men! This was shocking for me to see. How frail I was.
My two teammates and I decided our options were few. If we left we’d be celebrating the New Year on the streets toasting with cups of hot chocolate or coffee. We stayed. They, my heterosexual male chum and female roommate, then decided to spend the bulk of the evening dancing closely amongst themselves. I was an awkward little boy in my mid 20s trying to lose myself in a crowd of gay men.
Later that evening there was the topless gentleman smoking a cigar who took a liking to me. I made polite responses to his advances, but he wouldn’t take a hint. I finally had to tell him I was straight. He was surprised and asked a few times to make certain. It later dawned on me his level of surprise. What was it about me that generated surprise that I might be heterosexual?
As the evening wound down toward midnight things got more daring including the fellow dancing on the bar in his underpants with another patron trying to pull them off.
That New Year’s Eve brought more excitement than I had hoped. We gayly entered 1995. It was with much relief I exited from the club.
3 hours ago