Straight before eight

So the boys spent the night at Grandma and Grandpa’s house on Saturday, providing Sweetie and me with ample opportunity to go out on the town and engage in serious misbehavior.

It was Bike Festival weekend, so we rode our bikes downtown (as we usually do anyway, weather permitting). Had a lovely dinner and bottle of wine at our favorite Italian restaurant; sat on the patio and chatted with our server, who was unanticipatedly knowledgeable about Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. Met up with Trevor and Laura and watched some short cycling movies (the 4th annual "Bike Shorts" extravaganza), culminating in a very silly and entertaining piece called "Tricycle."

Then it was time for a nightcap, so we headed to Quincy–supposedly this city’s most happeningest gay bar.

Quincy is an odd sort of an institution. It’s darker than any other bar downtown, which is a good thing because it means you can’t see the shamefully filthy condition of the seats. (The bathrooms, though, are well-lit… allowing you to revel in every visible detail of their nastiness.) Its logo is the head of a Gay Nineties-style transvestite. Its official name is apparently "Quincy Bar & Grill," but damned if I can imagine eating anything prepared there. Not sure what time it opens in the morning, but there are usually three or four drunks milling around outside starting at about 9:30 (that’s A.M.). The drinks, though, are relatively good, beautifully cheap and perfectly strong–and isn’t that really what it’s all about?

When we first moved here and the only people we knew were those we’d met through high-toned moral activities (think MOPS), Quincy was sort of a nudge-nudge wink-wink sort of a place. "It’s ‘straight before eight,’ " we were told who knows how many times. "But after then… watch out!*" Naturally, this made it sound all the more interesting, but I kept thinking that (a) if Quincy really was a mecca for Grand Junction’s unstraight residents, the last thing they needed in there was a couple of looky-loo breeders, and (b) it really is just the most filthy disreputable-looking sort of place. I like dive bars, but I know enough to approach the unfamiliar dive bar with an appropriate degree of caution and respect for the current inhabitants. Oh, and (c) the place was always so jam-packed with smokers that little stinky wreaths of smoke were always escaping the door and fluffing along down the sidewalk like genial little wisps of pure death.

So we just never went to Quincy. Until the day the indoor smoking ban went into effect in Colorado–and we decided to celebrate by checking out a bar or two we’d never visited before. Quincy was the first stop on the evening’s itinerary. We came in, sat down, had a drink, saw someone we knew, talked to him for an hour or so, saw two other someones we knew, ended up spending most of the rest of the evening chatting with them (and playing the trivia machines with them, and errrr…), and finally ran into our neighbors as we were getting ready to leave, thus delaying our eventual departure by another half hour or so. Never did make it to the other spots on our list.

Anyway–we went in the other evening to discover there was a (Very Loud) band playing. "Cool," thought Sweetie and I, as we perched on barstools and made ready our orders. Trevor and Laura were less enthusiastic about the aural assault and checked out after about 15 seconds, leaving us alone in the Q. Where, as is our wont, we immediately started running into people we know–starting with Jon Rizzo, the music director at KAFM, who was playing guitar in the band onstage. And Peyton, the operations manager at KAFM, who was knocking back drinks and looking utterly adorable in her skull/Victorian-child T-shirt while her husband played drums.


(picture taken in virtual pitch darkness at 200 ISO with no flash–go Sweetie go!)

So rather than having one drink and wandering homewards as we’d originally been anticipating, we ended up staying at Quincy ’til… oh, two, two-fifteen or so. Chatting with people we knew, people we didn’t know (highlight of the evening: me telling some oilfield guy "Stop talking to me, you @$#%! racist"), people who knew people we knew, vaguely. People-watching: fortyish she-tweekers with spaghetti-stick legs and sad prison tattoos, Latina lipstick lesbians with their arms around each others’ waists, eyelinered emo kids muttering under their breaths about the trucker-hat crew, the trucker-hat crew making loud snide comments about the eyelinered emo kids, the old guy with the portable oxygen tank and the startling resemblance to Gandalf.

And at some point it occurred to me: this couldn’t happen most other places. This town is just large enough to have a notable freak contingent, just small enough that the freak contingent can largely be packed into one not-too-big dive bar on a Saturday night. In bigger and hipper places, the freaks get fragmented; there are gathering spots enough that each offkilter subculture can claim one as its own and give the freeze to non-conforming nonconformists who happen to wander in. But at Quincy, everyone has an equal right to his or her own freakiness. The Harley-riding transgendered woman sits next to the Jethro-bearded silent-drinking mountain man sits next to the dreadlocked Satan-voiced pipe shop owner sits next to the ex-ravers reminiscing desperately about their Ecstasy-soaked glory days. You got to get along, or you got to get out.

Quincy. Gay bar, freak show, repository of all that Grand Junction likes to pretend doesn’t exist. What an awesome freakin’ place. I’m going to miss it.

*I hope you find it as amusing as I do that seemingly every overweight exercise-averse NASCAR-loving male in the U.S. is convinced that, were he to accidentally wander into a Gathering Place of Gays, every last patron would be unable to control his rampant sexual urges at the sight of such an unparalleled specimen of Manliness. ‘Cause, y’know, man-boobs and ill-fitting polo shirts are Hawt.


About Molly Newman

Writer, cook and trivia/spelling bee hostess, living it up in North Portland.
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3 Responses to Straight before eight

  1. Lori V. says:

    Oh, how I wish we had such a place as Quincy’s…SIGH. Alas, this is the town in which I was giddily gobsmacked to find just a handful of liberals to hang out with… and that’s after seven years!

  2. Mimi says:

    Bwahahahahahhaa, yeah, that is amusing.

  3. Magpie Ima says:

    Great post–I feel like I was there. I think you’ll find Portland pretty freaky though in a less concentrated way.

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