If you haven’t noticed, a recent surge in gay nightlife has been taking place in Brooklyn. It all started in Williamsburg and has since branched out to neighboring Greenpoint. But, within the past year, two venues have seen their doors bolted only after enough outside force was applied. In the summer of 2011, Blackout Bar shut down after receiving numerous noise complaints from neighbors and tickets handed out by the local authorities. Of course any bar or club would be hit with a few warnings here and there but something is amiss when it is then ‘kicked when it’s down’ so much that they must close up shop.
According to party promoter Kelly Gorman, “while managing Blackout, we received many noise complaints on a weekly basis, but the police would only show up to write us a ticket on Wednesday nights (the bar’s “official” gay night).” The night in which Gorman is referring to is formerly artist Gio Black Peter’s Super Bisexuals Party, known as New Fuck New York, which celebrated the wild side of creative gay nightlife. With a new DJ set, a video projector, and a fresh bottle of poppers weekly, Peter threw extremely risqué parties (if you were ever there you know what I’m talking about) and even featured Canadian porn filmmaker Bruce LaBruce attending one evening. As the tides turned and the fines racked up, Blackout finally shut down. When asked for comment on Brooklyn’s recent crackdown on gay venues, Peter simply replied, “it’s fucked up!”
When taking a look at New York City law, you find that although a neighbor can complain to police for noise and other issues, ultimately it states that the neighbor has no right to take legal action against a bar if it was there before they were. As of late, it appears that although the Brooklyn gay crowd is artistic and means no real harm, they are being forced out by conservative neighborhoods such as Greenpoint. Gorman stated, “Greenpoint, while growing and looking more and more like Williamsburg every day, is still at heart a conservative, older Polish neighborhood. It is quiet, and a lot of people want to keep it that way. Neither bar did, however, have the issues with sound until they became known throughout the neighborhood as the gay bars.”
But, that’s not all. As the new buildings rise up around Sugarland, the authorities are now also getting upset with them. Bartender and BacKspace performer Mary Jo CamelToe mentioned, “Sugarland has been there for over four years, years before that it was operating as a bar-restaurant. If you move next door to a nightclub, you have no right to complain. You chose to live in New York City; in Williamsburg no less. Move to Boise, Idaho or Park Slope if you want quiet.” Briefly speaking to BacKspace leader Krystal Something-Something: “Brooklyn is full of creative people with the right kind of energy to throw exciting parties and entertain audiences,” she explained, “it sounds like too many people sick of Manhattan are moving here expecting Brooklyn to change for them.”
It is in fact true that we come in peace with martini glass in hand, artistic talent, and a bitchin’ DJ set. The creative elements of this newly found gay Brooklyn nightlife are being stomped out and the brakes must be put on this situation if it is to survive. Nude paparazzo Holly Van Voast gave her two cents on the matter: “if within the last 5 years you moved into certain parts of Brooklyn hoping to have peace and quiet, you might need to look at your relationship to reality. If you were there before, well, the reality is that this is going to happen when younger people move into a community.”
It is not necessarily just gay nightlife at stake when these venues close and/or are fined. It is the creative individuals that work so hard day in and out to breathe new life into a community that needs it. But, the future is looking brighter with Gorman taking his party and crowd on the run like a group of gay banditos waiting to antagonize unsuspecting heterosexuals. (Not really, but I’d like to think so.) The new location, K&M Bar, is all ready with open arms for the Gay&M Party that kick starts on Thursday March 1st. Even Gio Black Peter has recently mentioned he does not intend to go quietly. Bringing his type of insanity to the isle of Manhattan, Peter has started notifying the Super Bisexuals crowd of a secret location in March.
Fear not, queens. We still seem to be able to have a gay ol’ time in Brooklyn thanks, in part, to our fellow night creatures who refuse to give in but it is also up to the crowd itself to push back when teetering on the edge.
“I myself actually love residual noise from nightclubs as a soundtrack. I love the bass vibrations I hear the closer I get to Sugarland. It’s like coming home!”
–Holly Van Voast