If you've been listening to the news lately, it's stark, bleak at times and down right scary often. Yet, I'm a firm believer that in that despite the darkness that befalls us, there will be another beautiful day on the upswing. Certainly during this holiday season, depression and strained nerves abound, but discovering your inner strength, supportive networks and embracing a life must go on attitude can keep you motivated to a positive place. Keep you head to the sky people and stay in the loop with COP:24/7!
Easy Street/ Easy Over: The last tuned played for Easy Street a few months ago and I have posted various scenarios possibly fueling it's demise, eventually resulting in it's subsequent ceasing of operations. Even though 2009 waits in the wings for it's entrance, economic uncertainty all around, and folks wondering what's really going on, there will be a fresh influx of "rainbow dollars" bringing life back to the 7th street area after ongoing renovations. The new incarnation as I've learned will be christened, "Off Center," slated to open January 14, 2009. It's scheduled to have a live entertainment format of some sort, coordinated by Buddy Habig, former main pianist for ES and Emcee Cody Belew will be in the house to keep things moving on weekends. Adding to the mix is also a proposed "martini" concept being mashed up around the corner in the former Lam Garden spot, which will be called "614 Center," which will step off on the same date. This info is the latest update that I received and of course anything can happen between now and that allegedly opening. With that said, now let's take a moment to try to understand these maneuvers, if we can. I've been to the Backstreet complex on several occasions and the house had an echo effect as I walked to the various outlets. Although probably vibrant on some evenings, I sensed that the multi club's patronage was often waning. Despite special events such as pageants and such, crowds seemed to have defected to other sources of entertainment. Down the lane at Discovery which has evolved, morphed or whatever you want to call it, into a everything goes entity. The party continues despite some perplexing perceptions from locals and visitors alike. Actually in the big picture, Discovery is mirroring the national trend in bars from coast to coast. All over the country, exclusively "gay" bars are either closing or upending their formats in droves for a variety of reasons. I've read in numerous trade magazines that some gay bar owners have even made public statements that they are not seeking to be known as such or expanding that "mindset," with marketing terms like "alternative or gender neutral." The central Arkansas market is not exempt from a bit of contempt from both present and former owners whom have expressed that the uneven ebbing and flowing of the local SGL community drastically affects not only their bottom line, but how they will continue to offer the nightlife experience. As the pendulum swings, gay bars are dealing with many elements that will ultimately impact their very existence. Ranging from serious economic issues, lackluster attendance from customers who have opted out for other choices and the advent of the Internet which continues to change how society interacts. The cachet of being among your own kind and a possible "hook up" has undoubtedly changed with the times. Remember I've mentioned those "KKF's"( knock, knock fucks) spurred by the convenience of technology which has streamed much of the activity once found in "bars" right to your doorstep. It's very apparent that the GLBTQ community has decided that the enclave spirit has seemingly lost it's glitter or afterglow. The mantra that I keep hearing is "the Bars have nothing too offer..." Meanwhile the venerable Disco has become a place where everybody is still being somebody, nobody or anybody out for a night of merry making. I suspect that the steady door traffic is in part due to that late night closing that's not too plentiful around town. Little Rock has had it's share of bars that have come and gone. How can we forget those outlets of yesteryear such as the Gar Hole, French Quarter, Palladium, Garbo's, Variations, Lil's Pub, Chaps, Afterdark, Preston's, Fifth Gear, Filling Station, Code Blue, Our House, Maggie Mae's and The Factory. Furthermore it's so ironic that one of my favorites of all times, was the free wheeling Little Rock Inn. I spent many hours in that trio of bars that featured wonderful pool side afternoons,(yes my pretties boys in speedo's) out of town caravans, chartered Christmas Light Tour's and quirky unabashed camaraderie that has all but evaporated. Those of you who missed out on that fun, truly missed the last era when we actually did things together with enjoyment minus the attitudes. It's specialness also resutled in me meeting my long time companion of 14 years who also shares fond memories of that venue. Even though it was not a fancy high tech mash up, bartenders included Sidetracks' Co-Owner, Phillip P. who help set the tone for the place to be a club house for all. Unfortunately that often overlooked and under rated destination is now a parking lot across the street from the next set of night spots on a continuing mission to fill a niche for the SGL community and beyond. It seems that we are coming full circle as the lavender nightlife returns to the core of the city. I'm melancholy about the past but certainly look forward to another future breathe of fresh air. I've seen much come and go, often with a been there done that attitude however, I actually had many favorites over the years, most notably Maggie Mae's which opened a whole new chapter in my life which caused me both pleasure and pain but made a stronger person for it all. In closing, look for me, because I'll be around waiting for you! Got thoughts, recollections, stories, favorites, oversights, let's hear it!