It’s no secret that Earl and I have been somewhat hosting a semi-monthly bear night at the only gay bar left in our fine little city. Tonight was the latest bear night and with it being pride weekend and all, we thought folks would be in a festive mood.
Earl and I like to make every one of our bear nights extra special by adding extra goodies; we usually have a 50/50 raffle to raise money for the local HIV related charities, we give away lots of door prizes and we bring goodies for the crowd to snack on. We’re not that much different than bear nights in neighbouring cities but it’s something a little different for the crowd in our area and we like to think they enjoy it. To cover the expense of gathering the prizes, buying the food, etc., we charge a cover charge at the front door. This gets you entered into the drawings automatically and as I mentioned before, gets you in the door where we like to think you’ll enjoy something a little bit extra. As an added bonus we had professional photographers taking photos for those that were interested in sprucing up their online existence or even wanted a print of something extra special for their living room.
Now, I’m going to sound a bit elitist here, but over the past year or so the typical crowd at the bar has, well, degraded. What was once the hangout for the 30+ crowd and those that wanted to enjoy a somewhat civilised party has turned into the catch-all for anything and everything gay in our region. This is not uncommon in the days of instant gratification and hook-up through the internet, but nonetheless the population of the bar has tipped in the favour of the 18-25 crowd with an emphasis on the lower half. Anyone under 21 is marked with large “X”s on both hands. Some claim that the permanent marker indicators sweat off whilst they’re dancing but we know better.
But I digress.
Tonight we began the night by charging our standard cover charge of $5.00. The crowd started picking up around 11 and at 11:45 I had a line of about 10 people or so waiting to show their ID and pay their money. This is when one of the employees of the bar came up to me and said that we had to stop charging the cover charge immediately. I asked him why, he replied that he was getting urgent text messages from people that said they didn’t like the $5.00 cover charge and that word was getting out about it and it would kill the crowd.
Here’s the thing. (I say that a lot). It’s no secret that we were charging a $5.00 cover charge. We never make it a secret. We include that information on all mentions of our events. Making it a secret would be moronic.
I countered that you can’t stop charging a cover charge at five minutes until midnight because that would be very unfair to those that had already paid. He said he didn’t care, we needed to stop the cover charge. To prove his point, he called the owner of the bar and got him to agree.
So we stopped charging the cover charge.
At 12:15 we gave away half of the door prizes; we usually have the drawings closer to 1. At 1 a.m. I shot away whatever food was left, packed up our toys and got the hell out of there.
I was pissed.
I don’t care about the money. Earl hates to hear me say that but I couldn’t care less about the money; we had barely covered our expenses but it wouldn’t be a total loss. What did anger me though is that the rules of the game changed one third of the way into the night, and that was extremely unfair to those that had paid to get into the bar. This change in the rules significantly changed the vibe of the party into some sort of youth-infested rap fest that was making the bears in the crowd quite uncomfortable. So much for bear night.
Tonight was the last time that Earl and I will ever contribute a bear night to the community in this area. We will continue to support our friends as we travel here and there but we are _done_ with what we had going here.
I’ve picked up my toys and brought them home.