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Old Posted Jul 23, 2017, 10:02 AM
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SignalHillHiker SignalHillHiker is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2012
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A personal one I miss... Zone 216, the city's longest-running gay bar. I first went on my 16th birthday (shhh...).



It was infamously unsafe (the bathrooms were below the dance floor and the ceiling would shake and drop dust constantly from all the footsteps above) but it had such a wonderful sense of community.

The entrance was on Water Street, and you had to go up two flights of stairs to where the coat check and bathrooms were. The coat check was staffed by a straight woman who looked like Mimi from the Drew Carey Show. There were a couple of couches here where the drag queens and jilted lovers would wait to shout to people coming in.

Up two more flights of stairs and you'd come inside with the dance floor/DJ booth to your right and seating areas and the bar to the left. At the edge of the dance floor were huge windows overlooking Water Street. And behind the bar was a separate room with couches and (that far up the hill) a ground-level exit into an alley. The alley went right to McMurdo's Lane stairs, or curved to the left up to an after-hours cocktail louge with leopard-print couches set into the walls. That back exit was guarded by a very overweight, cheerful guy who would give you a little grope as you went past but somehow there was nothing uncomfortable about it. I used to wear black leather pants and a burgundy crop top Jeez.

It had the same bartenders forever - hot twinky guy and a milfy lesbian. Oksana and Misha, two ripped Russian stowaways who somehow stayed here for years, would always be dancing half naked in tacky self-made rags. It was this interesting not-fully-globalized period in Newfoundland where you could instantly tell visually who was home from living away, who was from the city, and who was in town from out around the bay. Although there were cliques (twinks, leather daddies, lesbians, etc.) we all shared the same space. Somehow the DJ always managed to get a couple of songs per year many, many months before they spread elsewhere in North America.

At 3 a.m. when the straight bars were closed, the place would get packed to the rafters with excited straight girls and (back then) hilariously uncomfortable straight guys. The drag queens would actively get visiting sailors in - a lovely tribute to the gay-friendly bar here in the 60s, where the Portuguese fishermen would go if they struck out with the ladies, I guess.

There was just something special about it in its day. I always left in a wonderful mood - and people usually shared cabs with folks they only met for that purpose, often arranged by the drag queens. It felt like people looked out for each other somehow.

Oh, the 90s...





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