Pin It

Nightlife- Gay Bars 

by Michael Bowen

Dempsey's Brass Rail

909 W. First Ave. * 747-5362

Sometimes stereotypes walk right into view. On a recent visit to Dempsey's, the first person who brushed past me in the entryway was a drag queen in a flimsy silver sequin top, gray miniskirt and black clutch purse.

She was 6-foot-4.

A guy in a Buffalo Sabres hockey jersey approached with his girlfriend, accidentally bumping into the jumbo queen.

"Don't touch me -- seriously, ever ..." the guy snarled. Then he broke into a grin and gave the female impersonator a big hug, burying his face in all those sequins.

People who look askance at the so-called "gay lifestyle" -- extra credit, by the way, if you can define whatever the "straight lifestyle" is -- tend to dismiss gay bars as dark, humorless places where men in leather growl come-ons. Gay people, they say, are all so ... different.

The Thursday night crowd at Dempsey's was different, yes -- definitely not under the bell curve. But what strikes a visitor to Dempsey's is that, unlike so many bars -- where people whisper and avert their eyes, hunched over their drinks like characters in some depressing French painting -- this is a happy, vibrant place.

Faces here are smiling, varied, freed from constraints. From the two guys dressed like lumberjacks, to the AARP matron in sheer black top and slit dress, to the girl in tie-dye leaning over a pool table, to Eric the cheerful bartender ("What can I get ya, hon?"), there's a convivial sense of forget-what's-out-there, I'm-in-here-now at Dempsey's.

As owner Larry Brown says, "We're a gay bar, but we're straight-friendly."

Upstairs, DJ QT ("Quantum Thrust") has dancers of all orientations gyrating until 4 am on the weekends to the pulsating beat of Gwen Stefani, Peter Schilling, Seal, Kylie Minogue and yes, Britney. The wooden floor, the speakers, the neon -- it's flashy and impressive.

Downstairs, meanwhile, during a karaoke party, a stunning woman in enormous raven-black pig tails pirouettes onstage. Whirling and lip-synching, she can bring it. And she knows she can bring it.

So does an entire table-ful of lesbians, who dutifully line up for the privilege of stuffing dollar bills into Ms. Pig Tails' cleavage.

They were self-conscious at first. But somewhere among the down-on-all-fours birthday spanks and the drunken whooping to Prince lyrics and the obligatory young woman in a white wedding dress crooning along to Madonna, the sisters let their shyness go. They were still a little nervous, but they were smiling.

The Merq

706 N. Monroe St. * 325-3871

"We're an alternative bar," says owner John Reid. "I don't want gay people to get the wrong idea, because we're not just for gays. This is a bar for all kinds of people."

Reid has transformed his coffeehouse into a nightclub with $80,000 in refurbishments, resulting in a very comfy and enlarged upstairs area decorated "San Francisco-style" with marble-topped wrought-iron tables, brick fireplaces and cozy nooks.

The Loft

410 W. Sprague * 455-7260

The Loft is flying low, under the radar -- OK, it's a dive -- but owner Lannie Kiehn has added a second level, expanding capacity from 35 to 150. There's "a jukebox for the older crowd" on the lower level -- couples in their 60s sit close together, men still in their work uniforms -- while upstairs there's a dance floor, pool tables and (soon) a karaoke machine. "We're a gay bar," says Kiehn, "but we're also a downtown neighborhood bar."

Mik N Mac's

406 N. Fourth St., CdA * (208) 667-4858

"We're a non-discriminatory bar, " says bartender and bouncer Kami Kiele. "We get mixed crowds here, predominately straight," she says.

With DJs spinning "hip-hop, alternative, techno, '80s music, Top 40 -- a little bit of everything," and drink specials every night (try the Surfer on Acid), Mik N Mac's provides CdA with its own little slice of bohemian living.

Publication date: 2/03/05

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Buried in the Headlines
  • Buried in the Headlines

    Big stories largely ignored by the mainstream media
    • Oct 27, 2016
  • A Sense 
of Détente
  • A Sense of Détente

    In only two months, the seemingly intractable battle between mayor and council has turned into an exuberant truce
    • Oct 27, 2016
  • Not Green Enough
  • Not Green Enough

    State says no carbon exemption for Spokane Waste-to-Energy Plant; plus, settlement reached in Priest River high school football concussion lawsuit
    • Oct 27, 2016
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu
Washington State Chinese Lantern Festival

Washington State Chinese Lantern Festival @ Riverfront Park

Through Oct. 30

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Michael Bowen

Most Commented On

  • Defending North Idaho

    Why Heather Scott must go
    • Oct 20, 2016
  • The Do-Over

    After failing to pass a bus service tax hike last year, Spokane Transit Authority has a plan to get you to vote for it again
    • Oct 6, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

election 2016


green zone


trail mix

Readers also liked…

  • Patrolling While Black
  • Patrolling While Black

    Gordon Grant's nearly 30 years as a Spokane cop have been affected by race, but that's not the whole story
    • Jul 8, 2015
  • The Price of Progress
  • The Price of Progress

    Why the Spokane Tribe says it's still owed for Grand Coulee Dam
    • Apr 1, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation