Last year ZeitGAYst's most popular post was about gay bars that have closed since I moved to New York in 1979. And now, like newspaper obituary writers do, I've written an obit for the Monster before the fact, just in case. It's my neighborhood bar (on Grove St., around the corner from my apartment) and still a lively place, but for the past 10 years there's been constant talk about it closing due to lease issues. That would be a shame. Besides its proximity I also like the place because it's spacious, attracts a good mix of patrons of different ages, races and ethnic backgrounds, and there's little "attitude" to speak of. If you prefer to sit and chat there's an expansive upstairs bar; if you like to dance there's a disco downstairs; and if belting out show tunes is your talent, there's a piano you can gather around.
The Monster opened its doors in the early '80s, which was around the time I moved into Manhattan. My earliest memory there is dancing to Michael Jackson's Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough in the downstairs disco with my boyfriend Rick and a friend from work during Gay Pride weekend in 1983. Thirty years later I often go there on Friday evenings after work, joined by my friends Andy and Maury. Below are some other fond memories:
- When I was in between full-time jobs I'd often go there late on Tuesday for its Classic Disco night. It was wonderful hearing the great classics of the 1970s and '80s. In a post I wrote about my favorite disco lyrics, the opening paragraph mentioned this weekly event.
- I once got six people kicked out for being disorderly. It happened one Saturday night as I was seated at the bar and a boisterous group of guys and gals persisted in heavily leaning and pushing up against me (especially the women). Despite asking them nicely a number of times not to do so, they continued invading my space. Finally, I had enough and, summoning my inner "top", stood up and forcibly shoved them away from me. It turns out they were being annoying all night and this was the excuse the door man had been waiting for to bounce them. Happily, I wasn't tossed out with them.
- I had the good fortune of meeting hunky Channel 5 weatherman Mike Woods there on a Sunday evening last summer. I introduced myself because I wanted to tell him of the post I had written about sexy news anchors that included him. (Last fall People Magazine named him its "Sexiest Weatherman".)
- Despite there being no electricity, the Monster was open after hurricane Sandy struck in late October 2012. It had a generator and the bar stayed open as long as the ice supply held up. I went there with friends the evening of Halloween. On a night that's known for being crazy and crowded in the Village, that year was dark and quiet with no Halloween parade. But inside it was cozy with candlelight and just neighborhood regulars.
- This is the bar where I had my first Negroni, vodka gimlet and martini.
- It's the only bar where I know bartenders by name, such as Mitch and Jeremy (pictured together), Greg, Vinny, Stephen, Patrick, Raymond, Pedro, Achilles, Evan and Facundo (pictured). However, once I knew their names I was always felt a sense of loss if I discovered they had left (as was the case with the last four names).
- Because I live so close I can walk there quickly in the depths of winter without putting on a coat (saving me hundreds of dollars in coat check expenses over the years).
- Some of the go-go dancers are a joy to watch as they truly put on a high energy, hot show. But not all of them. Once I called out one who was barely moving, just sort of posing (and the song playing was quite danceable) - and I reported him to the manager.
- Finally, inspired by the buzz of a cocktail (or two) I've written a number of drafts for ZeitGAYst while seated at the upstairs bar. (As I did with this post.)