Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Ritz

As I mentioned in Day Two in Berlin, I liked going to dance clubs. In my Fodors Guide, they recommended a club called "The Ritz". So on the last night of our trip, we went and checked it out. Like at the Metropolis, we arrived when there were very few people there. After climbing the stairs, there was a long rectangular room. On one side was the bar with bar stools. On the other were booths lining the wall. The room was well lit. The dimly lit room with the dance floor was at the far end of the long rectangular room.

So we went to the dance floor room, found a big table, and ordered a round of beers. The waitress told us it was happy hour, so we were starting to like the place already. Soon after we ordered our second round, three or four people came and started dancing on the dance floor. Their dance style was a bit different and more "free" than we were used to, but we chalked it up as being more European.

Noticing that it was taking a while for more people to show up, we asked our waitress "When does it pick up here?" She replied "You mean when does the show start?" We were like "Show? What show?". She looked around at us and said "Um, do you know what kind of bar this is? It's a drag show." Ohhh. So we ordered another round and said we would leave after. In the meantime, one man came over to our table and propositioned Tom, saying in very broken English "Will you come with me?" The rest of us broke out in adolescent laughter. (In an odd twist, I learned a couple years later that Tom came out of the closet. I met up with him and we got along quite well as opposed to our experience on the trip.)

So we got up to leave and entered the long rectangular room that we walked through coming in. Contrary to the dance floor that was fairly empty, this room was now packed. Packed without a woman in sight. The room was filled with men dressed in leather. Pants, coats, vests, straps, etc. Many with stereotypical goatees and shaved heads. There was such a lack of available seating that many were sitting on other's laps. Now, I was no stranger to gay bars. I went to and sometimes frequented them because they were the best place to dance and I had absolutely no problem with gays. But to see a sea of men in leather staring back at us wondering "What the hell are you doing here?" completely stunned me. All we could do was duck our heads and make a v-line for the door. Quite an experience.

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