A Wayward Adventure on a Gay Night of Partying

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In the world of fund-raising, nothing gets gays and lesbians to empty their bank accounts faster than to loosen them up with beer, wine, and a five-hour joy ride on a souped-up former school bus. So it didn’t surprise anybody Friday night when nearly 30 people ponied up $50 apiece for “Retro Through the Metro” as part of the summertime TaDa! dinner series to benefit the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgendered Community Center of Greater Cleveland. The only shocker of the evening was when the group discovered that “grid” is apparently pronounced “greed” at one of the city’s downtown gay nightspots. Hosted by SoCal-bred playboy Charles Haislah, the party took place on the Retro Rider, a ‘70s-style disco-on-wheels owned by Linda Andi of Garrettsville. For five hours, the delegation – from an African-American lesbian activist to an aspiring sci-fi scribe – caught a collective beer buzz as they shuttled from the Twist nightclub (11633 Clifton Blvd.; 216-221-2333), the Lee Hayden Art Gallery and the Rock Hall. This is where the trip hit a speed bump. After taking a vote on where to grab a 12:30 nightcap, the party tooled to Grid/Orbit around the corner from the Rock Hall. At the door, they patiently explained to a club manager that they each had already paid a 50-spot for a gay benefit. “And since this is a gay bar, would you please waive your $3 cover charge for us to get in?” they asked. They would make up for it by throwing wads of money at the club for cocktails, they promised. Besides, a peek beyond the front door of the mammoth nightspot revealed that it was virtually empty for a Friday night. To their amazement, the doorman refused the request because he couldn’t find his boss to get the okay. Like gay-pride activists at a March on Washington rally, the more vocal in the bunch started to chant “Grid is greed! Grid is greed!” as they started to high-step eight blocks down Saint Clair Avenue to an equally empty Leather Stallion. There, in the club’s outdoor cabana, a lonely bartender couldn’t pop open beer bottles fast enough for the sudden wave of last calls. Grid management has since been unavailable to comment. They’re still looking for the boss. – Cris Glaser

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