Event: Jai Ho 5 !
Venue: Big Chicks
Location: Uptown, Chicago
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are my own. My statements are indicative of my personal experiences at the party and are in no way representative of or reflective upon Trikone Chicago, Big Chicks or the individuals who do some amazing work in the Queer South Asian community at large.
Friday Night. 10:15 pm. Having received an e-mail earlier in the evening from the Trikone Chicago group that stated “No Desi Standard Time”, I decided the night must get underway. So I hopped, skipped and jumped my way to Big Chicks – a gay bar near a reasonably shady street corner in Uptown, Chicago. I arrived at my destination just as the place was packing (puns un/intended). In through the door comes Queer Guy… Queer Guy… Queer Guy…Straight Woman…Queer Guy…Straight Woman… Queer Guy…Lesbian! ..No wait, that was a Queer Guy too…. Straight Guy + Straight Woman… Straight Woman + Straight cousins from out of town…. Queer guy who’s Lesbian cousin did not come…. My fate was sealed.
After suddenly discovering that there now existed a Women’s Restroom at Big Chicks which has to be opened by engaging in an under the table key tradeoff with adorably bearish “I-so-want-to-hug-him” bartender, I ventured into the facilities only to step out smack into a Queer guy who was in my face because he eagerly wanted to exclaim to me the following: “Don’t you love that this one has mirrors all over???!!!!!” …Me: “Oh yeah! Absolutely! Go for it! You will look fabulous!” [ please note: 3 glasses of wine & a beer in everything seems like a good idea ] Its true. It did have mirrors all over. But anatomy prevents me from engaging in any admiration of body parts when nature calls [I will eat my words shortly…keep reading!] Enough about the restroom!
Spotted!!!: From NY, Here in Chicago – Salga NYC’s very own …Priyanka Mitraaaaaaaa !! (in town for the NQAPIA Summit) It’s a Queer Queer weekend here in the windy city. Back to the party – I saw some old faces, made friends with some new. Folks from NQAPIA were there, Non-South Asian nation representatives were there, A drag queen was there and straight people were there. Met 20 odd adorable Queer South Asian guys and No Queer women. My defiant Queer spirit tells me “This can’t be it!”. I know I have miserable luck with Indian women but there has to be one here that I can strike up conversation with if only with our hips ? Upon encouragement from a pal that experimentation is an integral part of a straight woman’s presence at this party, I grab another drink before embarking on my solo adventure mapping the room. I boogey around the dance floor…bumping to the beat… through the large heaving mass of men dancing with abandon … approaching the friends, the cousins, the girlfriends, the wives – and I surveyed. Yes, I surveyed. In the interest of data and queer science and my own dying curiosity. “Sorry, I am straight!” – Now while I have no problem whatsoever with women thinking I am hitting on them, it still irks me that in a Queer South Asian Space – I am the minority. There I said it. So about Jai Ho… Gay Boys ? You should definitely be here. Gay Girls? You should definitely be here too. Because right about now, you aren’t. And that is a tragedy.
After my dance floor expedition confirmed my suspicions with a resounding boom! bang! crash! I resigned myself to the bar and talking to adorable bear bartender. Apparently, holding Jai Ho at Big Chicks works well! He also kept boogying to the music and told me this was a smaller turnout that usual – now with the place as it was, it may have been hard to believe. But I have been to this shindig before and a lot of familiar faces were not to be seen.
At 12 am , the performances started. First, there was a fascinating “tribal fusion dance” celebrating the queer pacific alliance. Next, there was good ol’ fashioned pelvic gyration from a local Trikonite in an opera mask. And last, some Blonde haired, Pink saree-d Drag delight. Immediately post, the gay boys whipped their shirts off and clambered onto the seating ledge that runs on the side of the dance room that doubles as stage.
After a few more conversations, I ventured to the boys restroom at the back of the bar before heading out for the night. Now, I know how to work door locks. At least close them that is. But as lady+luck was lacking on me this particular night, The door opened ( and quickly closed shut!) in midst of a particularly inelegant exercise. So never mind that the boys restroom didn’t have a plethora of mirrors. Plenty outside definitely saw “me”. The End.
PS: I got into a cab for my ride back home. Just as the cab was swerving away from the street corner, my African cab driver asks me “Are you Indian?” and I am thinking “Here we go again!!” [refer Situation 2] But after I replied in the affirmative, no more questions were asked. Tonight was a good night.