Singapore LGBT Club
*Names were changed to protect identities
Since I started partying at 19, I had never stepped into an LGBT club until last Wednesday, when my Alex* and Daniel* invited me for Taboo’s 21 Anniversary party.
So, I accepted the spur of the moment invitation and made my way to Tanjong Pagar.
Getting into Taboo
We paused at the entrance of the newly-renovated club, where a crowd had gathered in front of an elevated stage. On the platform stood a sharply dressed man in his mid-forties with a huge grey afro weaved into his hair.
“If you’re anyone in the LGBT partying scene, you’ll know Addie,” Alex whispered.
“Why are you all crowding over here?” the man crooned to the dithering group. “It’s made from my pubes,” he joked as he greeted the guy in front of me.
The bouncer was reluctant to let my black furry slides from Charles and Keith into Taboo. My stomach sank when I thought I might have to head home. Thankfully, Addie waltzed over and said, “It’s our anniversary party, just let her in”.
I discovered gay men flirt very intensely
Immediately, I noticed two things: the spicy, musky cologne that bathed the room and the fabulous predominantly male crowd.
Everyone resembled gorgeous vampires with clear skin, carefully-styled hair, and well-maintained eyebrows; I was the socially awkward, ordinary-looking Bella Swan from Twilight.
Suddenly, I felt conscious of my slide-clad feet.
As I grabbed the first of my many Gin And Tonics that night, Alex commented I picked a tame night to party, “People go to Tantric to drink, and then head over to Taboo to grind.”
Surveying the room, I understood what he meant. It was hard to ignore the sexual electricity crackling in the air.
In straight clubs, admiring your object of interest happens via subtle, occasional glances. But at Taboo, everyone was intensely eyef**king each other. And as the crowd consumed more alcohol, the more apparent the ogling became.
From the snatches of conversation I caught, and how Daniel and I checked out the cutest guys in the room for something to do, I could safely say everyone was assessing who they would spread their cheeks for.
I was slightly amused but it made sense. Pregnancy isn’t a thing gay men had to deal with and gay men are into dalliances. Displaying your attraction for someone so openly gets you sexy time the quickest way possible.
The different rules of socialising in gay and straight clubs
Once we were fuelled by liquid courage, we began flitting through the crowd. By this time, the floor was packed and, for the first time, I found it difficult to squeeze my way through.
While many guys would have given way to me in straight clubs, I was bumped into without apologies in Taboo. I even got ignored when I tried to speak. No one gave a f**k because they didn’t want to f**k me.
I didn’t know how to navigate the gay world because I wasn’t privy to its rules.
Socialising with new people
“Are there any ugly people at all? This must be terrible for your self-esteem,” I whined.
By this time, I’d lost count of how many Gin and Tonics I had. Drunk Cheryl emerged and I adopted a louder, sassier personality.
In the last hour, we said goodbye to the most gorgeous looking French-Chinese model who looked like a brunette elf from LOTR, sans the pointy ears. We also spoke to drag queen Noristar, a table of skinny models, and several fashion people.
But as the night wore on, the game of ‘who’s the most popular’ got old real quick. The silent evaluations of who your friends were, how you looked, and whether you were funny felt tiresome.
And for what? To gain connections to get more drinks, climb the social ladder, and hook up with the prettiest people.
I headed outside for a cigarette and struck a conversation with another lone smoker. He was a cabin crew for Singapore Airlines and told me many girls hooked up with the straight bartenders in Taboo.
We had an enjoyable conversation which touched on the topics of love, sex, belonging, and acceptance.
And it gradually dawned on me, I was too busy drawing comparisons between the straight and gay worlds to realise we were all just people looking for the same things.
Leaving Taboo At The End Of The Night
At the end of the night, we hopped over to Tantric for one last drink. As I sipped on my Gin and Tonic, I took in the bar’s atmosphere and noted how I no longer felt as intimidated.
My initial discomfort of stepping into a gay bar stemmed from being uncomfortable with not knowing what to expect.
I’ve always navigated social spaces where heterosexual norms ran the gamut and it took going to gay club to realise I had taken this way of viewing the world for granted.
Gay clubs are safe spaces for the LGBT community to party and socialise. It gives them a place where they can be themselves and not have to live as ‘other’ in a mostly heterosexual world. It didn’t matter if I felt awkward in such spaces; it wasn’t made for me.
And I think this uncertainty makes it difficult for some to support 377A’s repeal.
Even as a straight ally, it was frightening to step out of my comfort zone and interact with the LGBT world. Never mind the effort it’ll take for someone who might be more conservative.
But to truly accept our differences, we first need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and that requires some courage.
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