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The Re-bar is so old that, if it were a person, it would be old enough to go to the Re-bar. In fact, it's twenty-seven or so. The infamous club, which one of the owners laughingly calls "straight-friendly," is one of the few remaining safe places for all people on the wide diaspora of queer culture. But sadly the building, once a modest island in a sea of parking lots, is now absolutely mobbed by huge glass construction; it's an oasis of artistry and self-made culture among luxury condominiums and offices that completely dwarf it.
It's where, famously, Dan Savage met his husband; where Nirvana had their record release party for Nevermind; where one friend fell for his wife because she was dancing topless on the speaker stacks; where Dina Martina put up her yearly hilarious shows; where beloved drag queen bouncer Isidor became the namesake of a DIY punk metal band; where calls home the longest running house music night on the West Coast (after DJ Riz Rollins, who started DJing there, was told when he started: NO HOUSE MUSIC!); where, long before idiotic debates over where people can pee became mainstream, Re-bar maintained genderless facilities (there were urinals, but I remember no labels on the doors, and a certainly looseness about which you might pick).
And, of course, perhaps most germane to these very pages, it's home to the Seattle Poetry Slam, every Tuesday night.
It boggles the mind to think of the stories those modest walls hold. Music, art, theater, films, dancing, and just the kind of place where artists and freaks go to hang out together. You go out, create a bit of life, and go home. Perhaps to someone else's place. Perhaps after having some drinks. Perhaps that night becomes a touchstone in your life.
And given the current political climate, let's just be extra fucking clear that we don't mean this god-forsaken place. Nor is it the bar of the same name in New York. To hell with those imposters. Those in the know understand how special our own Re-bar is. If you haven't been lately, perhaps you should stop by for an evening out. Who knows how long they can hold back the tide of property values?
As for those stories — how many can we uncover? I dunno. But maybe we should make up a few to see what happens.
One step at a time in those heels. It takes a long time to learn how to use them right. The wig not secure, and feeling like it's listing to one side. One fake tit lower than the other, and, my god, the bra was much to small and starting to bind. And a run in the brand new tights, already, before she was even to the door of a club. There were many people coming out to dance tonight, but this was her debut, goddammit, and she wanted everything to be perfect.
She signed up for the open mic, but the idea of reading her poem aloud was making her heart reside in her throat. The idea of standing on a stage and reading a piece of her own work — especially something this personal and revealing — was so disturbing that she went and got a beer, just to calm herself down. It was just after they called her name, and she was walking to the stage, that she saw in the audience the person she had written the poem about.
When you're on the floor, the DJ booth looks like an amazing oasis, a place set apart from the sweat and beat and mix of writhing humanity. And this night, with the place packed, she looked up to the DJ, headphones on, head bobbing to the beat, but distracted by what was to come next, and she had a vision. She could be there. This dude's transitions were for the birds. He kept breaking the flow. He kept dropping the beat. And if he did it one more time, she was going to risk getting kicked out by going up there and helping him get the floor thumping again.
It was a late, late night, so he came in the next morning to clean the place. Opened the doors to air it out, ran the dishwasher a few times with the straggling glasses, and gathered the bottles into the recycling. He was sweeping up when he found the wallet, just lying there on the floor, so obvious now, but probably desperately missed. He opened it: no license, no credit cards. Just $100 bills. Nearly thirty of them.
She was already cut off, but she stayed at the bar drinking water and coffee, kind of weaving to her own pattern. There weren't places for her any more. Not in this modern Seattle. Weren't many places she felt at home. It was all condos and yuppies, and they used to hate yuppies. Jesus. She turned to the woman next to her, a baby face, all of twenty-one, who was here to dance, had streaked and colored hair. "It used to be junkies and whores all the way down 1st, from the Market to Pioneer Square," she said, and the club girl rolled her eyes and turned away. "It was glorious," she said, taking a sip of hot coffee. "Absolutely glorious."