The FREEindex
The Definitive Williamsburg Brooklyn Business Listing





Search Us...

Two Fags, a Hag, and One Exiting Lesbian:
Discovering Gay Williamsburg

Michael gets frisky at the Stinger Club.
Last month, a reader posed the small but pertinent question, “Where's a good place to meet indie gay boys that are relatively masculine in Williamsburg? Do they exist? Am I alone? Thanks for any pity you can spare...”

Excellent question. So in the name of lonely young chaps like yourself staring forlornly at their laptops and wondering the self same thing—I grab three of my gayest friends (because I rank them, yes I do), and hit the scene running. Williamsburg doesn’t have any self-titled gay bars, but a lot of places play host to heavy gay traffic on at least one night. We decide to skip the wildly successful Berliniamsburg (Saturday nights at Luxx), in pursuit of the less-traveled Sunday night scene, which we hear is on the rise. On an unseasonably warm evening in February, I step out with Michael, Carter and Amy, and vow not to return home until I have some answers. Besides, it sounds like a damn good excuse for a little journalistic boozing and cruising.

The Abbey
Always gay-friendly, but Sunday night brings the boys out in droves. Grab a cheap draft beer and hunker down in a beaten-down booth with your buddies, or stick close to the bar for the pick-up scene. Cozy, friendly, and positively packed with hotties late-late night.

Level X
Colorful, stylish lounge that hosts Williamsburg Homosexual Learning Center on Sunday nights. Art-cuties and they’re admirers frolic to crowd-thumping DJ mixes and campy films. Make goo-goo eyes at David, the finest bartender in Williamsburg.

Stinger Club
Loud, seedy and humming with s-e-x on Sunday nights. Hit the dance floor or get naked for a free shot at the bar—either way, you’ll have a killer hangover in the morning. But then again, so will that hot indie rock boy you took home with you.

Stay tuned for more bars next month.

We meet at The Abbey (536 Driggs), the tried-and-true neighborhood favorite. It’s deliciously cozy, breeds all types, and won’t kick you out for playing shitty pool. The jukebox is stocked too, and tonight it’s cued up for heavy eighties. That’s because the warm, affable bartender Troy is in charge, and he’s playing everything from The Smiths to Journey. While The Abbey is always home to a mixed crowd, Sunday night brings out the boys in droves. “It’s not about being scene makers,” Troy tells me, “it’s about hanging out and having a good time and talking to some cute boys in the local area.” Carter and I soak in the heavy oak decor, the red-lit chandeliers, and beaten down booths. “This is where gay men come to be straight,” I surmise. Carter gives me a big, shit-eating grin and nods, “Precisely.”

But we show up at 10, a wee bit early, and catch the tail end of the early evening couple crowd. No matter—Troy’s sexy little sidekick behind the bar, Photi, is already spicing the place up. “I’m liking this place, it’s definitely warm and inviting,” Amy laughs, “I just wish there were more girls here so I could maybe get a little action.” Carter chats up a wine-sipping local at the bar and confirms that the real action won’t be starting for another few hours. Perfect timing, we figure. This is just the kind of place we want to roll into at the tail end of a night—unpretentious, friendly, and just a little like home.

We grab our bags and mosey over to Level X (107 North 6th), a decidedly stylish lounge that plays host to a Sunday night party called Williamsburg Homosexual Learning Center. Every week bears a different theme, to which co-hosts Andy and Tony (possibly the most likable duo on the planet) educate the pack with campy films and crowd-thumping DJ mixes. Tonight the theme is rocks—but unlike a tedious geological lesson, here you’re treated to the classic Sly film, Rocky. “We wanted to do something in between the rock-n-roll feel of the Abbey and the super-sceney Luxx,” Andy tells me, “Something chill and laid back for the end of the weekend, a little more like Barracuda in the neighborhood.” And the night has brought success, especially on three day weekends, where Andy says, “It’s like gangbusters in here, you can hardly move.” Things heat up around midnight, and usually stretch as late as the crowd is willing to go. If the Abbey is where you drag your pull for last call, then Level X is where you go to meet them.

Carter gives Michael an ultimatum: "Change your name to Troy, or you'll never work in this town again"

The key to the night’s popularity is in the sublime, understated entertainment. The film and the music don’t overwhelm you, and conversation flows easily. The music is especially inviting, the DJ, Troy (Troys everywhere!), has an old school approach—having the audacity to actually mix, rather than churn out songs. He avoids any saccharine-sweet pop, replacing it with a harder edge electro and new wave mix. The crowd tonight is laid back, chatting loosely in bright, high-backed booths. No one’s throwing attitude, either. It’s nice to relax without fearing you’ll be verbally sliced and diced by a scene-stealing drag queen. It’s a mixed, handsome young group, with the artfully-disheveled-working-artist type pulling the most weight. Leading the pack is an adorable young bartender by the name of David. Back at the table, he’s all I hear about from Carter and Amy.

“What is it with bartenders? That guy is so hot”, Carter says. “Yea.” Amy agrees, eyeballing David from the corner of her eye, “If you don’t find me some girls soon, you’re gonna lose me to the bartender. He is ridiculously fine.” Damn.

Amy asks, "Where's the girls!?!"

Andy and Tony, our gracious hosts, point us in the direction of three girls chilling at a table near the film screen. I ask a petite blonde from the group what she thinks of Williamsburg’s lesbian scene and she gives me a wry look. “Is there one?” she laughs. Double damn.

Amy gives me a wink, says her goodbyes, and books it across the river to Starlight. And just like that, I’m down a lesbian. I decide that unearthing the chick scene in Williamsburg is going to need a whole night unto itself, and plan on another piece. Meanwhile, the irreverent Michael, has finally arrived and things are about to get really, really silly. We order three more greyhounds, make goo-goo eyes at the bartender, and plot our next move. We are hot on the trail of a brand new gay night that just popped up over at Stinger Club. It’s one a.m., we’re slamming drunk, and I feel like Jimmy-goddamn-Olsen.

Stinger Club (241 Grand St.) is lo-oud. So loud, in fact, that I have to scream over the bar to talk to Jay, the bartender, who is approximately three inches from my nose. But the boys love it, and quickly define it as the most fun place yet. “But it’s seedy, dark and loud!” I shout. Carter and Michael give me big, bright happy eyes and scream, “Exactly!” Carter joyfully notes the red lighting scheme again, and we ponder the idea that it might serve as some sort of gay-friendly calling card—the rainbow-sticker-on-the-window for Williamsburg, if you will.

Jay tells me that his Sunday night party is still wet behind the ears—he started it just last week. But the crowd is thick already; maybe due to a fat little special he’s running. He doles out free drinks from 10-11 for a nominal three-dollar door charge. Nice. Unfortunately, we missed the free-for-all, but not the leftover crowd, which is eclectic and friendly. Guys and girls line the bar or lounge about in booths, and there’s a really curious couple leading the way on the dance floor. Jay nods in their direction, “ See, that’s what it’s all about here—dancing, losing yourself in the music.” But the truly extraordinary thing about Stinger is that it isn’t a club. It’s without a doubt, a bar—and a dive bar, at that. Maybe that’s why the electro funk pouring out from the DJ and the frenetic dancing have a certain David Lynch feel to it—misplaced somehow, but in a really fresh, exciting way.

A boy frolics late night at the Abbey.

The place practically hums with sex, but none of us can put our finger on why. Michael spots a sign behind the bar that claims “GET NAKED-FREE SHOT” and asks Jay how naked he has to get. Jay laughs and shrugs, “You know, I never thought about it before.” Next thing we know, Michael’s shirt is off and Jay is pouring him up a tallboy shot of Citron. The diverse crowd doesn’t even blink. And why would they? They are young, hip and sure, and they’ve seen it all before.

It’s generally a good rule to start wrapping things up when people get naked. Rules, however, are for the weak of liver, and we make one last trip to The Abbey to catch last call.

Last call, my ass—The Abbey is hopping. We have to push through a few couples exchanging phone numbers outside just to get in the door. Inside, it’s the cirque du soleil of frolicking gay boys. Apparently, it is the place to be after 3 a.m. We spot several notables from Level X and Stinger among the crowd, as if everyone comes here to roost late night. The front is where most of the mixing goes on, and there’s a lot of weekend storytelling going on up here. Troy and Photi are swamped and giddy, over-pouring draft beer and slinging cocktails to the boys.

Shawn, the go-go dancer, spices things up at the Abbey.

The song Nine to Five pours over the speakers as we make our way to the back where, despite the crowd, an empty table beckons us. It’s loose and casual back here, where oversized booths make room for groups of friends or pool aficionados. And—Ahoy! What’s this? A go-go dancer, topless and divine, is shimmying on the back bar and causing quite a ruckus. I put Michael on the case, and he returns to inform me that the go-go boy will be over as soon as the Dolly Parton song (his favorite) ends. Meanwhile, we cruise the scene over for types and come up bless-fully short. Gangly, beefy, stylish, grungy, shaggy, tall, small—you name it—they’re here, and most delightfully queer.

Shawn, the go-go dancer trots over, pulling on his shirt. He’s a local from Greenpoint, a trained dancer who convinced Troy to give him a shot on the bar. At a mere 5’ 6’’, his head barely grazing the ceiling, he shook his way into a Sunday night gig that he has no plans of letting go. “I love it, there’s such a good thing going on out here. It’s neighborhood—you don’t have that feeling in the city.”

"Excuse me, sir. Can I quote you on that and get it wrong in the morning?"

On the way to the bar, we run into a charming, bleached-blonde tomcat that Michael knows from the city. “What are you doing out here?” Michael asks, knowing it takes a bulldozer to get a Manhattan boy off his ass and across the bridge. “Are you kidding? It’s a gay nirvana out here, it’s great!” he shouts over the music, and then adds with a giggle, “This is where the straight boys come to be gay!”

Brilliant. In five short hours, the Abbey has turned itself inside out. We suck down our beers and make for the door, tired but content. There’s one hell of a gay scene going on in Williamsburg, all right, you just have to drum up the moxy to go hunting after midnight. And to think, the week is just getting started.

-Cindy Price
(email me at [email protected])

Yes, Virginia, there is a gay Williamsburg. Stay tuned for more bars next month. Pay attention, son, and we just may get you laid after all.

Back   Back

Free Williamsburg© | 93 Berry Street | Brooklyn, NY 11211
[email protected] | March 2002 | Issue 24
Please send us submissions | Advertise with us!
Reproduction of material found on FREEwilliamsburg without written permission is strictly prohibited.