Long ago, and oh, so far away, I went out on Monday nights. My destination? Alternative/goth night at The Underground downtown. Imagine my surprise when I visited on a Saturday night last month for the first time in about five years.
It’s a “gayfriendly” bar now! And, by that, I mean men very openly kissing men and rainbow flags hanging on the walls. Co-owners Jerry Morris and Tom Halfast (yes, Tom and Jerry) took over the property at the beginning of the year and re-opened it in mid-February. They held a “grand opening” in August and locals already call it “the gay Cheers of Colorado.” “You guys are breeders, aren’t you?” a bespectacled man with a goatee asked of my companion and me. “Are you happy?” He wandered over from his spot at the bar, presumably to chat up my tall, dark, tattooed male friend. We “came out” to him about being straight, and he dissapointedly meandered back to his older cowboy companion standing at the bar. (“Breeder,” I later found out, is either a joking or derogatory slang term used to describe heterosexuals, primarily by homosexuals.) Along with the bar’s new clientele, which includes patrons from the now defunct gay bar Hide and Seek, there are other changes. It’s altogether clean- er, brighter and more festive and welcoming. Television sets and the stereo system pump out music videos from the ’80s and I wasn’t afraid to touch anything in the bathroom. Unfortunately, the evening we were there, the downstairs portion of the bar was closed off due to a private hip-hop party. Morris assured me that was a one-time event and won’t happen again. Mostly, it was the patrons who provided new color in the garden-level bar. Glancing over at the copper bartop made me smile. Instead of a conglomeration of half-empty Bud Light and Corona bottles, there were elegant martini glasses filled with pretty Cosmopolitans, goblets of red wine and stout cocktail glasses. The mostly male crowd felt warm and familial, leaning against the bar, embracing, laughing with their whole bodies and talking animatedly. A small cluster of women kept to themselves at the far end of the bar, and two tables had been shoved together to accommodate a mixed-gender group. It was a fun place to play a people-watching game. “It’s ‘Brokeback Mountain!’” I nodded to the guy with the snakeskin boots, plaid shirt and cowboy hat. “Chuck Norris” also made the rounds in a bulky, fulllength fur coat and thick facial hair, and I wanted to bust out with “What’s behind Chuck Norris’ beard? Another fist!” Maybe it was my date, or maybe the rainbow-hued jukebox, but I left with a rosy glow and the melancholy certainty that I’ll never again look for a boyfriend there. details The Underground Where: 110 N. Nevada Ave., 578-7771 or www.underground bars.com When: 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Mondays-Saturdays, 2 p.m.-2 a.m. Sundays Happy hour: 2—for—1, 4-7 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, $2 appetizers Theme nights: Goth and industrial/Mondays, retro music/Thursdays, dance music/Fridays, high energy/Saturdays; karaoke, 9 p.m. Thursdays Ages: 18 and older on Mondays and Saturdays Cover charge: $4 after 11 p.m. for ages 21 and older on Fridays-Saturdays, $8 for ages 18-21 on Saturdays