Saturday, July 30, 2011

Event Review: Comfort and Joy's "Active Touch," July 29, 2011

A few weeks ago I read a post on Facebook in which someone was responding to the closing of The Eagle by complaining that the gay bar/club scene "just wasn't the same anymore," how it had become boring and predictable, homogeneous, lost its cruise/sleaze factor, etc. While in my original post about the closing of the Eagle I pointed out that things change, and perhaps it was time to think about a "new gay" as opposed to waxing nostalgic about the "old gay," events like Comfort and Joy's "Active Touch" demonstrate quite well that there is a thriving, exciting, gay scene alive and well in San Francisco, with all the sleaze and craziness you could want, if you just take the time to go looking for it.

This is, to the best of my hazy recollection, the fourth or fifth year that Comfort and Joy has been throwing the Touch parties, usually in conjunction with a major holiday or event, in this case, Dore Alley. While the parties serve on the practical level as fundraisers for Comfort and Joy's annual excursions onto the playa, they also provide a glimpse into a "new gay" underground scene. Inspired in large part originally by John Cameron Mitchell's film "Short Bus," Comfort and Joy events evoke the vibe of the 70s bath-house, where you can cruise, dance, see some inspired performances, and connect with a community that is truly creating something new, rather than trying to hold onto the past. Comfort and Joy parties have provided a platform for musicians, DJs, drag divas, and visual artists like Honey Sound System, the House of Herrera, the House of Salad, III, and many others, and serve as a nexus for queers of all shapes, sizes, and varieties to cum, er, come together.

I must admit that, for this particular event, I didn't really have the energy to devote to a full-scale party. I went primarily to connect with friends and a community that I haven't been part of in a while, and in that regard, it was a blowout - I heard the words "welcome home" so many times that it convinced me that I really was "home." If I'd had a bit more spunk in my junk I could have certainly found any number of amusing divertisements to keep me occupied until the closing bell at 4AM, since there was a dancefloor (though, admittedly, I am not that great a fan of Bus Station John's retro disco sound), a "gentleman's boudoir," a tiki lounge, and any number of small niches where one could locate oneself for conversation or other social interactions. It was enough for me, though, to just feel like I had found myself back among a community that, like a family, has its fractious and dysfunctional aspects, but are the still people with whom feels that special, intimate connection. I'll take that over being groped at The Powerhouse any day.

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