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Jeff Baker, Boogieman in Lavender: A Visit to XY Bar, Or My Glimpse of 2023

A Visit to XY Bar or My Glimpse Of 2023

by Jeff Baker

A month ago I did something I haven’t done in a couple of decades. I went to a gay bar at night when the joint was jumping.

Let me explain.

The last few months I’ve gone out to a few times to places where I can casually socialize. (I’ve missed having somebody around to talk too.) A nice little coffeehouse, the Public Library in the afternoon (which are also good places to write!) and a couple of Gay bars. Also in the afternoon when there aren’t a lot of customers there. I order a soda and usually I shoot the breeze with the bartender. I stick with soda when I’m somewhere other than home. One of these bars is a little place with a nice outdoor courtyard and the other is XY Bar downtown.

XY Bar is a nice dance club/bar in the Old Town area of Wichita where converted warehouses are restaurants, bars, shops and at least one hotel. About thirty years ago, I used to work out of one of the warehouses which is now an arcade. And I usually drop in there on the weekend in the afternoon, do the Pepsi thing and chat with the Bartender.

But a month ago one Friday night I went to XY Bar at about ten in the evening.

I hadn’t been to a Gay dance club when they were actually dancing in maybe thirty years. Place was full of young guys and girls, I’m guessing twenty-somethings. Some of them in shorts and tank tops (it was a hot summer night) and one guy dancing in a pair of leather shorts and a leather harness. He looked good. I leaned over to him and said “Love the outfit!” He grinned and nodded.

I sipped my Pepsi and walked around. I noticed that most of the people seemed to be there in friend groups of about three or four. The last time I’d been in a club like this, about 1991 there were several couples but most of the people were there solo. Not in 2023. Some couples dancing on the dance floor, some groups dancing on the dance floor and at least one solo dancer. I didn’t dance, I didn’t start talking with anybody, I didn’t expect anything else. I wasn’t there for anything else. I was just there to soak up the vibe.

And I got the feeling that the vibe was different than it had been in the late 80s, early 90s when I was in the bars looking for someone to make out with or maybe start a relationship with. Back then, there was a feeling that a lot of these people were hiding out or not out or in a world apart from the outer straight world.

But the club in 2023 seemed to be full of young people who were mostly, fully out. Probably had been in their school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, were out at work, to their families and friends in a world where being out is a lot more common and same sex marriage is becoming less and less unusual.

I left XY Bar soon afterwards. Nice place but I’m not a 20-something. Also that area has a history of violence breaking out from some of the other clubs around closing time (I was actually wanded before I went in!) and besides if I ever start looking for anyone again it probably won’t be at a 21st-Century disco. But I enjoyed my glimpse of this new, modern probably better world.

Now, where’s my Pepsi?

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Jeff Baker writes about reading and writing sci-fi, fantasy and horror and other sundry matters on or around the thirteenth of each month. He was happily married for many years to his late husband who he did NOT meet in a Gay bar.

His fiction appears regularly on RoMMantic Reads and will be in the new QSF anthology “Rise.” He regularly posts fiction on his blog and wastes time of Facebook and Mastodon (as “Mike Mayak.”)

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