One of ZeitGAYst's most visited posts is one I wrote about gay bars that have closed since I moved to New York in 1979. Each one that closed made me apprehensive about my neighborhood bar, the Monster, meeting the same fate, so I've written a loving tribute to the Monster before the fact. Located on Grove St., around the corner from my apartment, it's a lively place that's been around for 40 years. Part of its appeal for me is that even if I stay longer than I planned I'll be home in minutes.
Besides its proximity, I also like the place because of it's spaciousness and, at least until the invasion of the shrieking women, attracts a good mix of patrons of different ages, races and ethnic backgrounds; there's also little "attitude" to speak of. If you prefer to sit and chat an expansive bar is upstairs; if you like to dance a a disco downstairs beckons; and if belting out show tunes is your talent, there's a piano you can gather around. (Two complaints I have concern the bar's drinks: 1) they're smaller than those of other bars - for example, Industry in Hell's Kitchen, serves drinks that are twice as large for the same price; and 2) Happy Hour doesn't include cocktails with "brand" liquor - a detail that isn't made explicit.)
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. In its early years it didn't have the section of the bar where the piano now sits - that was a bookstore (legitimate, not "adult"). Thirty years later I often go there on Friday evenings after work, joined by my friends Andy and Maury. Here are some other fond memories/photos:
- 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. One evening, in the summer of 2012, I splashed some of my martini on my Blackberry, which was sitting on the bar, and within 10 seconds it stopped working. I loved this device but I ended up getting a smartphone instead.
- 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 at Saturday night's Manster at Monster event were 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. However, a few years this vibe disappeared as rent boys replaced the dancers, trying to charm patrons (ideally, drunk tourists) into buying a lap dance for $5/minute. This change happened after bar manager, Mitch, who was the creative force behind Manster, left and his night was replaced by Squirt.
- 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. (Including A Large Penis Doesn't Always Impress and Discovering the Sex Appeal of Redheads.)
GALLERY OF PHOTOS
(Despite my fond memories, in recent years changes in the types of patrons it attracts, e.g., more straight women, many of them drunk and loud and with their boyfriends in tow, and most recently, repercussions of COVID-19, have reduced the Monster's appeal for me.)