On Sunday night, the club I used to frequent had its 20th anniversary party.
I missed going because my car decided to quit and I had to bring my mother’s car back with me, and Mama’s car doesn’t go to the club.
But car issues can’t stop my nostalgia.
Margat and I used to be regulars at the Lizard Lounge’s goth night. It’s called The Church. When we first started going, I experienced Good Baptist Girl Guilt from attending a place that clearly was subverting the term “church” in less-than-holy ways. But that didn’t stop me.
Also, I got over that guilt pretty quickly because:
- Um…they kind of have a point. And I appreciate that they’re upfront about it.
- Good bartenders. Goooood bartenders.
- The Church creates an atmosphere that recognizes and respects beauty.
I feel beautiful there.
I wear the lipstick that I like, which is darker than beauty professionals have decreed that I *should* wear. I wear black eyeliner, even though I have been told that I really *should* wear brown. I wear dresses that are more sheer than they *should* be, as well as skirts and corsets that are more revealing than they *should* be. I often wear things that don’t compliment (read: cover up…because as it turns out, they compliment it just fine) my body type. Sometimes I wear bright colors; most of the time I go in all black, even though I’ve been told my skin is too pale to wear all black. When I go to the club, I actually dress the way I feel most beautiful, not the way I’ve been informed that beauty is supposed to look. And unlike every other place in my life, The Church recognizes it and celebrates it as beauty, too.
At The Church, I dance. I love to dance. I love the way my body moves. And it doesn’t really matter how you dance there. You can dance gothic. You can swing dance to Concrete Blonde with your roommate. You can tango. You can simply bounce in time to the music (or not…whatever). All (well, most…see below) expression is welcome.
My club experience outside The Church has not been a positive one. I can’t think of a single such outing that did not involve someone coming up to me on the dance floor and grinding on me without my permission, or groping me while we’re waiting at the bar (also without my permission), or if he did bother to ask my permission, yelling at me or belittling me when I had the audacity to say no. As if a total stranger has any business being up in my business. As if I owed them something just by daring to exist within their field of vision.
The unspoken rule at most clubs is that you have to make a choice – be seen or be safe.
That doesn’t fly at The Church.
The sign by the front door says, “Enter without prejudice,” and they mean it. I’ve seen bouncers escort people out because they were being disrespectful of someone’s apparel or lifestyle. I’ve had a bouncer hover near me when a guy wasn’t hearing the no as quickly as he could have, just in case I needed him to intervene. That same bouncer asked me after the guy finally did go away if everything was okay, making sure I still felt safe being there. As a result, there is an atmosphere of acceptance and comfort there that I just don’t get other places. When respect is the expectation of an establishment, it is often the outcome.
And it’s beautiful.