What Happened To Our Nightlife?


Remember these lyrics…

I love the nightlife
I got to boogie
On the disco ’round…*

That Alicia Bridges track from 1978 was a chestnut that keeps coming back at times. It reminds us of what it used to be. Us – LGBTQ people – having the time of our lives at places that welcomed us as shelters from the hate, discrimination, and downright ignorance about who we are.

Our nightlife was the bar, the club, the pub, the hangout where the drinks flowed, and our next ex-lover stood across the room waiting for you.

It was our introduction to LGBTQ life. It was a life that exists today, but it has evolved into something different. Bars and clubs change. Or, no longer exist. Only a few remain today at their original location.

Recently, I was reminiscing with a few friends about our nightlife adventures. The bar now called the eagleBOLTbar was our “home” in the 2000s. Bear Bar Nights and other Leather/BDSM events took place – mostly in the underground part of the bar. Many tales to be told – far too many to fit in this column. 

Our definition of nightlife has evolved with the times. For some of us, the places we used to hang out have been supplanted by other types of venues. While we remain a distinct culture, we also took the path towards becoming part of the mainstream of society. That is, as long as they welcome us at the door. 

There are elements of our nightlife that have become digital in nature. Apps, websites, and other virtual methods have replaced in-person events. Partly – if not, mostly – thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Over two years of this pandemic has challenged our want of live entertainment. Because things have eased a bit, venues have reopened and, as the younger folks say, “things are popping!”

It is because our nightlife is a sign of the existence of “intelligent life.” Perhaps LGBTQ life in the past – if not today.

This issue is dedicated to the expansive definition of nightlife. Not just for a few – but, for everyone!

It is now about finding artists within our community to follow and see at any given venue. It is about the reopening of spaces that we claim as our own. It is about our pursuits of having a good time wherever we go. It is about fulfilling our want of entertainment that is welcoming of us. 

Your definition of nightlife is as open as own our own definition of ourselves. Go boogie wherever you want to – or not. After all, it is your nightlife. 

*Lyrics by Alicia Bridges and Susan Hutcheson © 1978 Bike Music

Photo by Randy Stern

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