Tuesday, September 07, 2004

There's a good fairy Godfather lurking inside each of us

Howdy men. Hoping your Labor Day was restful and rejuvenating. It's time to get into it again.

Do you remember the first time you set foot into a gay bar? I bet you were very young. I was in my early twenties.
I remember this because it was Labor Day weekend, 25 years ago. As you can imagine going through that experience, I was nervous. I decided to go on a Sunday afternoon for tea dance. I had been reading the local gay rag for a while, and wanted to build up enough courage to go. After I paid my cover, I stepped through some beads and entered the magical world where I could enjoy being my self.

I remember first glancing around the big room the diversity of ages. Being a deer in the headlights, I immediately darted to the bar to order a beer to calm my nerves. The place was crowded. It was about 6 pm, so things were heating up. Back then, guys were more modest, and kept their shirts on. But guys danced in shorts and sneakers, and were dancing up a storm on the floor. I ordered my beer, left the first of millions, it seems, tips for the bartender, who was cute, and proceeded to a far corner of the bar near a stairway. It took me four more visits before I felt comfortable climbing those stairs.

I just stood there for the longest time. I do remember a guy asking me to dance. I don't really remember what he looked like then, but I shyly said that I wasn't a good dancer. He was a dancing queen, so he moved along. I stayed about 2 hours and left.

Looking back, it was about typical for most gay men going alone to a gay bar for the first time. It wasn't unpleasant, nor was it the stirring experience I had imagined. But that's where we as top men come in.

How do we play the good fairy Godfather to young gay men out at the bars for their first times? It all depends on the situation and type of bar. If it is a leather bar, then there exists the situation for some heavy cruising. But these guys have probably been in other gay bars before, and as I like to say, "are trading up" in their clubbing.

When you visit a gay bar out of town, doesn't it feel a little bit like the first time? You're new, fresh meat, regardless of age. It is thrilling, but also frightening. You don't have that comfort level that regulars do. You're only principal contacts are the guy at the door and the bartender. Those first steps into uncharted waters and getting the lay of the land are exciting. That's how that young guy feels when he enters the bar for the first time. What is going through his mind?

As we mature as top men, we evolve in stages, according to age. By thirty-five, we are mature enough to become young daddies. We aren't the circuit bunnies anymore. There are new guys taking over the dance floor. So we move on.
It is a life defining experience, one I decided to explore, because I didn't want to become the old troll thirty years later.

As I have written earlier, you have to prepare for this moment. You got to have your shit together before you can assume this very responsible role. There is not really a instructor course you can sign up for. It's about attitude and appearance.

I have evolved from being a young daddy to a daddy. I have enjoyed the transformation because I have found purpose. And that purpose is to help younger guys wade through the initiation stages of gay life. I learned by trial and error, with an older man. Going through that hell taught me never to behave that way when the boot is on the other foot.

So how then do we use our night stick for good instead of evil? I don't believe in making any guy feel uncomfortable. By crusing the bar, you know pretty early who is a new guy and who is a regular. If you live in a tourist or convention city, you will see new guys on weekend nights. If you go out during the week, they will be out usually in force on Thursday night.
They will be out also on major holidays, perhaps visiting family. Whatever the situation, you usually can spot these guys.

Eye contact, I believe, is the best way to approach a newbie. If he's interested and you don't make him uncomfortable, this may be the best way. It is non committal and less intrusive. But some guys can burn holes through you with their constant stares. Don't do that. Having a warm smile makes the situation all the more pleasurable. Be approachable, but never downbearing. If he shows an interest, he might come over and take the initiative to strike up a conversation. But if he is scared shitless, it might be up to you to make the first approach. Be careful not to make him feel pressured. A howdy and " I haven't seen you here before" is a good pick-up line to use. That usually breaks the ice. If you are with someone else, immediately introduce him as well. You 'll never know where this might lead.

Remember to hone in on your listening skills while talking, and by all means, maintain eye contact. If you find his eyes wandering, he may be nervous or signalling that he wants to move on. Give him this freedom early on. If this is his first night in town, be a tourguide and give him pointers on the best hangouts during his stay. You may or not bump into him again during his stay.

Never, NEVER, try to force a situation. That's where coming on too strong hurts the situation. Think with your brain, not with your cock. Good top fairy god fathers do this by instinct. Let him decide to make the next move. He has to be made comfortable. This is the best way for top men to become good ambassadors. After all, it's not about "me", it's about "we".

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