Sunday, August 5, 2007

An Ode to The Gold Coast

The Gold Coast, for those not in the know, is a neighborhood bar in West Hollywood. The reason it deserves the "neighborhood bar" designation is because it is not the sort of bar people would travel far to enjoy. Some bars in West Hollywood do draw the out-of-towners and perhaps one or two of them drift into the Gold Coast on a Saturday night, but, all-in-all, this is a haunt that only collects the locals.

The Gold Coast has a DJ but no dance floor. Usually the guy in the booth plays the old disco hits or the quirky songs of the 1980's. Once in awhile, he switches from being a DJ to a being a VJ and a music video is flashed simultaneously on the six flat screen televisions (a nod to modernity) sprinkled around the building. Generally these screens broadcast silent television network offerings with occasional closed captions.

Below the DJ booth presides a pool table which is the centerpiece of the Gold Coast. It takes up most of the area. It is the best lit space in the bar and usually has a crowd of players and spectators. The games always appear friendly.

There are two bars: a long bar at the bar entrance and a small, more intimate bar at the rear exit. The entrance bartenders always look busy; the exit bartender has time to talk.

The clientele is generally made up of the "average Joe" gay. The pretty boys have their own dance halls more west on Santa Monica. While there are representatives from all age groups, the Gold Coast crowd is predominantly on the doorstep of middle age, middle-aged, or those who have already passed through middle age. Racially, there are more Caucasians than non-Caucasians, but a mixture of black, Latino, and Phillipino guys are thrown in for some balance. Usually, there are two or three women present and one or two guys who are dressed as women.

On this particular Saturday night, there is a medium-sized attendance. You neither have to fear having your drink jostled when walking across the bar, nor is there really a place to stand if you want to be alone either.

Looking around, the place owns it's share of colorful characters. Near the front door, a man probably in his 50's with a full head of unnatural yellow hair, suggestive clothing, and a bandana tied around his neck is living an homage to 70's porno star Peter Berlin. More power to him.

A dwarf, a little person, a midget (What is the politically correct thing to calls these people again?) is perched on a high bar stool near one of the service areas of the front bar. One has to wonder how he climbed up on the teetering stool. He stands up on the cushion at one point to get the bartender's attention for another beer. It is tempting to warn him about toppling the stool, but a quick remembrance that he is indeed an adult and should know what he's doing squelches that impulse.

By far, the youngest person in the bar looks like a pre-soldier Elvis Presley. He is thin, but not in a rickety way - a solid thin. He wears clothes that lets the observer know that he is skinny but not wasting. He has black hair and it is tall but not quite a pompadour. His sideburns extend down toward his jawline. His eyebrows are oddly arched and very dark. His face dances and twitches pleasantly with expression as he talks with the odd assortment of overweight and predominantly bald men who crowd around him.

On the bench that runs across the tinted store front window of the bar, is an older couple. They obviously arrived together. Each must be at least in his 70's if not 80's. On the table in front of each is a 8 oz glass with amber liquid and another identical glass with water. They are both wearing garrish bands on their left hand ring fingers, but the bands are not identical. Both are a little more neatly attired than the Gold Coast demands. They are wearing expensive-looking sport shirts and cardigans even on a hot July evening. Both look a little sullen. Maybe it's the sweaters.

At the exit bar, a tall man with huge worked out shoulders and a chest to match is chatting with the bartender. Upon further observation one notices that below the disciplined chest flows into a soft and ample gut that runs over the belt - a contradiction of anatomy.

One of a couple brags to a man next to them that he "does" his companion "bareback" every morning before he goes to work. He says it loudly enough so that he is sure to gather an informal audience of those who are standing around. The smile on his face seems to indicate that he is either drunk or that he truly savors the exhibitionism of the moment. As the kids say: TMI, Too Much Information.

I guess if there is nothing else to get from a visit to Gold Coast is that there is something for everyone. Doesn't matter what you look like, how old you are, or whether you're on the hunt or just hanging out. There is something for everyone.

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