Main | Monday, April 10, 2006

Eight Of Clubs

Fifth in a series of reviews of lesser-known gay bars....

Eight Of Clubs (no website)

Location: Upper West Side, 230 W.75th @ Broadway
Specialties: None. Local saloon, pool table, jukebox
Door Charge: None
Drink Prices: Average
Clientele Ethnicity: mostly white
Average Age: late 30s - late 50s

I think it was this reader that suggested I visit Eight Of Clubs, after my spate of bar reviews back in February. The Farmboyz suggested we all check it out this Saturday, so with Eddie in tow, we dropped in at 11PM.

Eight Of Clubs is located in the basement of a somewhat decrepit apartment building, just off of Broadway on the Upper West Side. When we stepped into the bar, we were momentarily struck dumb by the decor. Seriously, the tacky just about jumps up and smacks you in the face. The room is long, low, and narrow. The walls are painted bright purple, with shiny red crown molding. Nailed to the walls are many, many yards of rope lights. There's a rainbow flag tacked onto the ceiling over the bar.

Eddie took one look around the room and announced, "I am way too hot to be in here on a Saturday night." Father Tony took one look at my face and said, "Um, so are we not staying for a drink?" I said, "Oh, hell yeah, we're staying! Look at this place! Total blog material!" We ordered a round of Rolling Rock after the bartender told us that their beer selection was "Rolling Rock, Heineken, or Bud Lite in the can." Three beer brands. In a gay bar.

The place was actually nicely populated for 11PM on a Saturday night. All twenty or so of the barstools were occupied, mostly by guys right out of the Lonely Alcoholics catalog. A guy with a ferocious country accent (Kentucky, I asked) was playing pool with a mannish woman who told us she was the bar's "handyman". Father Tony begged her to lose the purple walls. She shrugged. The music is jukebox only and this is some of what the patrons selected while we were there: Cher "Believe", Madonna "Hung Up", ABBA "Gimme, Gimme, Gimme". You get the picture.

We learned that the patrons only use the ladies room, because the men's room door has a big hole where the doorknob should be, allowing patrons seated at the bar to see directly to the toilet. A long time ago, that probably would have been done on purpose, I think. We retreated to the bar's outdoor patio, which is actually quite large and which has even more rope lighting than in the bar. We huddled in the chilly air and discussed our next destination as a gigantic drunk swayed nearby eavesdropping. He stepped over and slurred, "Are you guysh talkin' 'bout bear bars?" I said, "No, we just have beards. Sorry." A couple of minutes later the guy crashed to floor inside, bringing several barstools down with him.

Eight Of Clubs is grim and depressing, but most of all, it is spectacularly, memorably, get out the camera, tacky. I kept getting flashbacks to the horribly similar bars in Orlando that I visited in the early 80's. And while I'm very sure that Eight Of Clubs has a devoted group of patrons who love, love, love the place as their neighborhood hangout, where everybody knows their name, I just hope to Jeebus that I never become one of them.

Chance of returning: Hell fucking no.

Previous reviews: Escuelita, O.W. Bar, The Web, The Townhouse.
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