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The gay scene

Pubs clubs and bars

Pubs, clubs and bars are an obvious place to meet friends and are still among the easiest places to find other gay men, though the massive increase in the use of apps has hammered the traditional gay scene hard. We will eventually realise what we've done and may well bitterly regret the time we turned our backs on our scene.

The skills we use for cruising, meeting and chatting-up are pretty universal and can be adapted for use just about anywhere. Above all, if you go out thinking you’re going to find ‘him’ you are likely to be disappointed. The air of desperation is easily recognised and drives many men away.

Go with the flow, relax and enjoy yourself. You’ll be a much better mood, you’ll communicate better and if you don’t pick up it’ll be a case of "so what… there’s always tomorrow" rather than beating yourself up over failure.

  • Say hello to security on the door as you walk in - you never know when you might need them.
  • A lot of bar etiquette is macho stuff inherited from traditional pub culture where you can only ‘be a man’ if you look tough and drink a man’s drink; it's against this we can be measured. You should drink exactly what you want, although bear in mind that certain combinations may make you less-looked-for cruising material. When was the last time you saw a skinhead with a piña colada, or a drag queen holding a pint of Guinness. In fact, we've seen both and they were tremendous!
  • If you smoke, make sure your pack is to hand and you’re not wrestling with a drink and lighter (through some guys are very skilled). Seems an age ago, but as a consequence of the Health Act 2006 smoking in enclosed spaces was banned on 1 July 2007 and venues were quick to establish smoking zones outside. Better still, why not give up? You'll have better health and only your drink to worry about.
  • Find a place that gives you a decent view of what’s going on, but, if it’s busy, avoid the main thoroughfares to and from the bar, coat-check, toilets, dance floor and loudspeakers.
  • A busy venue is not necessarily a great place to cruise. If the venue’s packed with punters moving around like herds of cattle it can be difficult to both see and be seen.
  • Guys are likely to look at you so, even if you’re shy, try to acknowledge them with a friendly look or smile rather than looking as if you’ve lost a contact lens at the bottom of your glass.
  • By all means move around, but not so much as to appear desperate or nervous. Someone could be looking for you, and staying in a couple of regular spots improves his chances of finding you.
  • Difficult though this might be to believe, you can’t cruise everyone! So identify a few guys and concentrate on them.

Debate rages over whether straight, cis people should be allowed in queer bars, clubs and spaces | 5 Feb 2022
Inside Lagos’s underground queer clubbing scene | Huck | 2 May 2020

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