The Gay Religious Experience

This is one of the very first songs I danced to at a gay club in Boston. It was at Chaps, which was still on Huntington, right across from the Copley Marriott. A few retail co-workers (shout-out to the Fanueil Hall Structure crew) were going, and having recently turned 21 I decided to join them. (Aside from a one-time-only chalked-license night at the Branch one previous summer, I was never one for under-age drinking.) Once I turned legal, I didn’t go crazy, so I had been of age for a couple of months before really utilizing it.

My poison then was the White Russian. Yeah, I was once that kid, but at least it was better than the amaretto sours I started on. (We won’t mention Boones here.) After my third, I was relaxed enough to join my friends on the dance-floor. I had been to one or two gay dance clubs before, but had watched the dancing from a distance.

Thanks to countless choreographed danced numbers practiced in the carpeted world of my childhood bedroom, I could cut a rug as well as the next gay guy, so the dancing never intimidated me. And even the tiers of men watching from the elevated section above didn’t phase me. There was a certain freedom from worry in a gay club that straight people will never understand. Even if they spend a few nights in a gay bar, they can never know what it’s like to have spent a lifetime in a straight world, only to have that oppressive tension (even if nothing ever happened) lifted. Maybe that’s why gay clubs are so much more exciting than straight ones – everyone is just relieved and happy to be there, and we’re going to have the time of our lives no matter what.

I don’t remember all the songs we danced to – just this one – as this was the climax of the night, the song playing when everyone was collectively moving en masse, when for a few brief moments the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. It’s the time when even the shy guys will take their shirts off and swing them in the air with gleeful abandon (most, not me). As we moved in unison, dancing and jumping and clapping to the music, I thought surely there was salvation here, surely this was heaven, surely this was the closest I’d come to a religious experience.

I remember that night to this day, so important was it to my initiation into the gay world. While I would never be a regular club kid, I would always enjoy the occasional night out, and when Chaps moved over to the theatre district, it was never quite the same (nor was it as easy a drunken walk home). That moment, and its place in my life, had passed. But we had that time together – all the men and women in that darkened room, with a throbbing strobe light, the pounding beats, and that feeling of shared elation.

Back to Blog
Back to Blog