The smiling face of Anne Frank looked down upon me with love as I walked past her giant visage. With my fake lesbian lover in tow, I ventured into the gay New Haven institution known as Partners. I have been to Partners before, of course. Who hasn’t? The best Modern Loves in the history of Modern Love were held at Partners. Walking in, I expected the grandeur and pulsing techno of gay hipsterdom, or at least the fabulousness that embodies the gay world of Los Angeles — where my ship docks. What I found was so much sadder than that.
There couldn’t have been more than 10 men in the bar, including the bartender. He was by far the most attractive, youngest and straightest person in the joint, and looked a bit shocked to see me and another young woman enter the bar. To be honest, he probably would have been just as shocked if two men my age had walked in. The patrons sat at the bar, looking old and dejected. When my “partner” and I started dancing around, the men at the bar look very self-conscious, as if our nymph-like demeanor reminded them of their own apparently lonely existence.
Once we realized just how out of place we were, we decided to explore the bar to see what this hole in the wall had to offer. We found very little. The most exciting feature was the pool table, which offered an amazing opportunity for a racy pool queue photo shoot. The seating was Turkish-themed and intimate. I would say it was cool, save for the fact that nobody was using the seats. After our domination of pool and sexiness was complete, we returned to the bar and took another look. It was even creepier then it had been the first time. I had not noticed the 40-something man in the corner with his eyes glued to the slideshow of half-naked men flashing on the TV screen. He did not look away when we walked by him or when he reached for his beer bottle to drink.
The creepiest (and best) discovery we made in Partners were the stacks of male erotica on the bar tables. Well duh, I snatched one up to thoroughly explore the Partners culture. Big duh. Our favorite trashy mag, entitled Cybersocket, features a half-naked man on the cover (to be expected) and a headline that reads “Gay Fetish Porn: Men of Bound Gods.” I instantly changed my mind about Partners. The trolling potential was palpable. I continued to read and found ads for naked dancer men and “filthyfreshmen.com.” How could Partners possibly know that I’m looking for male strippers for my friend’s 21st birthday party? Magic.
So Partners, oh Partners, you are as sketchy on the inside as you look on the outside, but with a big group of fun-seeking and boisterous friends, Partners has the potential to be a very fun night. I might recommend that the music be turned up a bit for drunken dancing, and the absolute lack of lesbians was unacceptable, but other than that, I see no reason why Partners couldn’t be turned into the best of times.