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Wildcat Lounge

Paul Wellman

Wildcat Lounge


The Wildcat


Name of Bar: The Wildcat

Address: 15 West Ortega

Location: tucked off of State, just barely off the beaten path

Days/Hours: 4 PM2AM every night.

Happy Hour: 4 PM – 8 PM every day.

Known For: providing questionable nights on the town

Notable Decor: dancers and patent leather walls

Patrons: 20-somethings looking for a little more danger than the standard SB club can offer

Special Draw: Gay Night every Sunday! No one leaves before close.

Also Known As: The Kitty

Okay, Also Known As: The Shitty Kitty

Classy Touch: cocktail waiters!

My experience: The guard took his time with my ID. He looked from his blacklight card reader to my face and back. He read my eyes for a moment, then said, “Five dollars.” I gave a bill to the doorman, who seemed grateful for exact change. I entered. Club music pushed at the walls, and I realized that I hadn’t been in a club since Papa Americano had hit the scene. Not much had changed. Smoke and perfume drifted lazily through the air just above the stew of bodies. Pale purple lights lent these wafts an enticing beauty, and disco balls hung from the rafters like glammed out moons. Fashionable men and women leaned here and there against red glitter padded walls. I couldn’t help but be reminded of some extravagant Sims house designed by someone who knew the rosebud cheat.

This was unmistakably Gay Night. Razor blade lashes cut and fluttered on the eyes of towering drag queens. With these heels I stood at 6’1”, and I hoped with a New Englander’s suffocating neuroses that I wasn’t mistaken for a Diva. At the same time, how could one not envy their sublime allure?

Gay bars are a fragile thing, easily perverted by the presumptions and desires of the straight community. Hegemons of the night, our women flee there for safety and our men flock there for the chase. Most damagingly, we play make-believe to stoke the lusts of men. We ruin it for the Ls and the Gs, the Bs and Ts, right on down to the Qs. Happily, the Wildcat is still downright gay, though as a straight woman I didn’t feel unwelcomed or out of place.

I passed into the back patio. Or, more aptly, alley. Red Christmas lights hung from the ceiling, and in the ruby glow I spotted a familiar face. This, I would soon discover, is a frequent occurrence at Gay Night. It seemed like every young alternative drunk with nowhere to get on a Monday morning makes their way through the Kitty at some point on a Sunday night. I took a seat in one of the outdoor booths, and was given a cigarette. Menthol, fittingly. I was approached by a man in cut-off denim Bermudas and sleeveless plaid shirt. He called me “hon” and scribbled on one of those old waitressing pads you only see at diners. The only thing missing was the pair of roller blades. He brought me a tequila sunrise in a little plastic cup that was just as cute as him. He swung his hips as he walked away, and I turned to my friend.

Tell me about Gay Night, I said, pen poised. Well, it’s a lot of dick and a lot of blow. I let out a laugh to demonstrate my savvy, but I choked on a squeak of innocence. He stopped me with a finger to my lips and told me to take my jacket off. One does not scorn the fashion sense of a gay man at the Wildcat on a Sunday, and so I did as instructed. He told me to sit still as he whipped out a comb and started playing with my hair. It doesn’t get any gayer than this, I jabbed. Ta-da! He took my hand and led me to the dance floor. The musky scent of alcohol and sweat filled my nostrils, and my eyes were directed upwards to a railing perch, where a twink clad in fetish gear locked eyes with his mirrored image and danced.

I was pulled onto one of these platforms by a girl I knew. After a few songs on the stage, security beckoned us down, and we collapsed in the patio. With one arm she reached for my far shoulder, and with the other she took two cigarettes from an innocent bystander just before he could pocket his pack. She gave me one, drank the dregs of a nearby Stella, and we sat for a time. I couldn’t help but be reminded of Jonathan Larson’s Maureen. She whispered something in my ear, and I knew it was time to leave. Security herded us towards the door and into the night.

Wildcat Lounge

15 W. Ortega St., Santa Barbara
805-962-7970. More Info

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