Last weekend saw the closure of Town Danceboutique. But no one really called it that. It was really just simply, Town. Social media was full of D.C. gays sharing memories, stories, pictures of themselves in front of that brick facade, “when I first went to Town I was just. . .” That sort of thing. Honestly, people seemed to take it pretty hard.
Gays, like so many other minority groups, seem to mourn spaces more than most. But why, why here? What was Town? I can rattle off a litany of gay bar names, all now shuttered since I moved here 12 years ago — Titan, Remington’s, EFN Lounge, Chaos, MOVA, Omega, our only lesbian bar, Phase One. But they didn’t receive a send-off close to what Town earned.
Town was special. Sleek, modern, thoughtful in design. I never really cared for the upstairs and the music there, the drag show I never thought was really for me, but I did enjoy the outside patio. That space was indeed thoughtful in its design and gave us a space to congregate that we really deserved. And that was more or less the beauty of Town, a space for everyone, and a space we deserved. Not some dive space that hadn’t seen a renovation, or even a mop, in years.
Town made and kept itself relevant. A space of self-discovery, the feeling of almost absolute freedom of dancing all night. Minority groups need their own space, especially in times such as these when we have no real friends in an executive branch that only two years ago used to actively celebrate us. When Town opened it was unquestionable why we needed a space like that. And now, later, it may seem superficial, or as some have suggested, unnecessary. But we need it. We still see oppression. Courts can still rule against us, and we can all be suddenly reminded that there is a substantially large portion of the population out there that would rather not have us around. At the very least, after a week of living in the straight world, we could dust all that off our shoulders at Friday’s Bear Happy Hour.
Gays Against Gun Violence held its first fundraiser after Pulse at Town. Dozens of other charities held events there as well. On the micro level, boys were able for the first time to enter a gay space, peel back the curtain for the first time on a new life and all the possibilities that it offered. That sort of thing should never be discounted.
So what now? What now that our city has no real permanent dance club? As we’ve seen, spaces come and go. Will some other Town open soon, in some fashion and in some variation, somewhere in the city? And I see more deserved spaces, more thoughtful renovations in new spots like Dave Perruzza’s new venture, Pitchers in Adams Morgan. Like Town, there’s the promise of varied queer spaces under one roof. Even a lesbian bar. Our city currently has none.
Where does this leave us? And what does our community really need? Do we need another dance club, a drag club, a patio, or do we just need another space. Clearly we need all of that. A space to dance, a space to mourn, a space to celebrate, or simply to be one’s self. Town managed to give us all of that. And I’ll miss being there for sure.
Brock Thompson is a D.C.-based writer who contributes regularly to the Blade.