Hey kids, just back into town from the Mini-Apple (no, I didn't make that up), pretty pooped but wanted to give you the quick shot of my brief forays into Minneapolis gay nightlife.
Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday are never good nights for going out anywhere, and Minneapolis is a small city (380,000 people or so), but I was fortunate that my hotel location made it easy for me to walk to The Eagle on Washington Avenue and The Saloon and The Gay 90s, both on Hennepin (the main drag for clubs, bars, and restaurants).
The Minneapolis Eagle, like its namesakes in Washington, San Francisco, and New York, has a back patio area that is the focus of the Sunday afternoon scene. It was a warm, beautiful day and, when I arrived around 7PM, there was a good crowd of 50-75 guys who seemed to have been boozing away for a while before I got there. The crowd here, as at all the bars, was much less studied than a San Francisco crowd, with many of the guys looking like, well, just guys rather than gym bunnies or crazy pierced freaks or the other usual categories in the taxonomy of San Francisco gay culture. The other major difference was - no pot smoke! I stayed for two drinks, about an hour, but had absolutely no cruising luck, or even that much interest in crusing. It was one of those moments when I wondered if I was invisible. But, with the crowd thinning, I decided it was time to go get some food and then check out the Sunday DJ night at The Saloon.
The Saloon on Hennepin bills itself as the major gay dance club, and that night their resident (Kiko, something like that) was coming on at 10. I got there around nine, enjoyed a drink al fresco, and then cruised in to check out the scene. Again, though there was nothing particularly attitudinal about the guys, I must have been wearing my invisibility cloak. The music was a lot like being at The Cafe, and by midnight, after they couldn't find anyone to participate in their "sexy shower" contest (there was a working shower with plexiglass walls right off the main dance floor), it seemed like it was time to head back to the hotel.
Monday I was fortunate to find the Vital Vinyl record store right behind my hotel, and then had a great time at the Walker Art Center (one of the most appealing aspects of Minneapolis is its strong art community and some of the most amazing contemporary architecture I've seen anywhere), but it wasn't unitl Tuesday that I went out again, this time with some other queers from my conference. We met up at The Gay 90s, a HUGE club that could easily hold over a thousand people. It was supposed to be a drag performance night, but I've never seen so many guys lip synching at a drag show (and I'm pretty sure they weren't drag kings). The women were of the female impersonator variety, and the guys were, well, pimps. The music was all hip hop, the audience was a bit on the thuggy side, and the area was, well, really sketchy - I saw the cops busting a guy, and got hit up by a hustler offering me "massage," within a block of the club while walking there (never, ever respond to someone asking "Excuse me, excuse me, do you happen to be . . . gay?") The drinks were strong, though, and by midnight, with a flight to catch in the morning, I caught a lift back to the hotel cuz I sure didn't feel like walking.
This was my second visit to Minneapolis, and it seems like it might be a fun city to explore on a purely recreational basis. The third week in May is Art-Whirl, a massive open studios/arts festival, and the guys at Vital Vinyl let me know that there's some great nightlife on the weekends. Had I been there from Wednesday through Saturday or Sunday I'm sure the gay clubs would have been more fun as well. So, if you're looking for a less expensive, less intense vacation destination, you might want to think about a trip to America's Mini-Apple.