Friday, August 29, 2008

Sunday Scribblings: Somewhere

I have never been a regular at bars. The dark, the noise, and the smoke just are not my idea of a good time and I'm not much of a dancer, so there's no draw there. But there was a time in my life when I frequented a Boston bar. To tell the story we need to go back to the late 80s.

At the time I was on the Boston Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee. We met on Thursday nights at Boston City Hall. After meetings the women of the committee, Darryl, Janet, Carol and I would adjourn to the one lesbian bar in the city, Somewhere Else, which was conveniently located blocks away in the Financial District.

Thursday nights were not a big night at Somewhere during that time, so we were able to settle in at a table near the bar and talk without shouting. Over drinks we would debrief from the meeting, complaining about the boys, or worrying over the work still to be done. We didn't talk about the other aspects of our life - dating, family, our paid work - we stuck to talking about our shared work. I do remember Darryl talking about when she had worked in a bar, though I don't remember what bar that was or where.

Somewhere Else featured a bar area on the first floor, with a stage on the opposite wall, and tables scattered around. Bathrooms were down a narrow staircase in the basement. In the way of lesbian bars there was a men's room and a women's room - to meet code requirements - but the designations were ignored. Upstairs featured a dance floor, a second bar and a room with a pool table.

I'd been to Somewhere Else a couple of times before with my wife and other college friends. But those visits were infrequent. The bar wasn't convenient and since we weren't single we weren't looking for places to find love. There was one memorable night when shortly after Amy and I left Somewhere Else we shared a kiss while stopped at a redlight. The driver in the car behind us flashed the lights and honked the horn - letting us know they'd seen the kiss. When the light turned green they pulled into the lane next to us and passed, taking a second to take a peek at us. I happened to look over as they passed and was rewarded with the sight of jaws dropping as this hetero couple realizing that we were both women. Amy and I laughed most of the way home, and thinking about it still makes me smile.

Shortly after we bought our house I left the Pride Committee - burned out from the politics of it, busy with work and the new house, and not willing to make the drive home after those evening meetings. And not too long after Somewhere Else ceased to be. A fire that started in the bathhouse that shared the building and a lack of appropriate insurance proved to be too much for the owners.

Other bars have come and gone since then, but I've rarely visited them. In my mind when I imagine a lesbian bar it is Somewhere Else that comes to mind. And invariably I think about Darryl, Carol, and Janet. I've lost touch with all but Carol and I don't speak to her very often, but there is a warm place in my heart for each of them, the work we did together (planning a party for 40,000 - 50,000 of our closest friends), and the friendship we shared over drinks at Somewhere Else.

To read more Sunday Scribblings go here.

(I haven't participated in Sunday Scribblings in a while, though I used to be a regular.)


susan said...

My first time reading your blog (I think). Will be back. Wasn't big on bars either and glad I'm no longer looking for love. Thanks for the read.

Linda Jacobs said...

It's amazing all the different takes people have taken with this prompt.

Very well written and interesting post. I love the red light story!

gautami tripathy said...

Thoughtful post! Glad I visited you..

trying to find a meaning

Jon said...

Interesting post. I too was once a regular at bars. However I haven't set foot in one for many a year. Some people think that a trifle strange considering I'm Irish.
Enjoyed reading this, will be back for more.

Maria said...

What a great blog piece...

And I remember a bar from my twenties and early thirties. I remember dancing and flirting and drinking way too much.

Now, I almost cringe when I think of bars. The noise, the smoke, the everything. Funny how everything changes once you are older and settled. But, no...I don't miss that life. Do you? I bet not.

Paul said...

Interesting take on the prompt and a good read;

mgirl said...

I love the name of that bar, Somewhere Else. Great story.