Phoenix Antisocial Club

After a hiatus of a few years, I went to the Phoenix Pride parade and festival last weekend. Thanks to the joys of Facebook feeds, I noticed that the Phoenix Social Club had scheduled a conflicting event, across town, that Sunday.

When I first heard about the group, I wanted to applaud its creators for suggesting something new. When you’ve been stuck in the same-old-gay-bar rut for too long, going out isn’t fun any more — it can get boring. So a plan to visit “out-of-the-ordinary venues” sounded well-intentioned.

But I never quite got on board, partly because the venues the group has opted for are … well, the way that the group refers to its choices as “nice, out-of-the-ordinary venues” implies some grasping, A-Gay-wannabe inclinations. “Let’s meet at Christopher’s Crush, which offers a pizza of the day for market price, and chic cocktails that drop below $10 when they’re half-price! So fabulous!”

To be fair: The group also has scheduled events at one of my coworkers’ favorite happy hour joints, Hula’s, and in its early days even deigned to plan something at the Mexican restaurant Ajo Al’s. But setting up a picture wall so guests could get their photo taken, paparazzi-style, at an event at the atrium lobby of the Hilton Embassy Suites Phoenix-Biltmore? That’s trying way too hard.

And I think here’s my larger-scale issue with the group: While it says its aim is to build a more cohesive gay community, its choices thus far have excluded the bars, restaurants and events that dedicate themselves to the gay community every day. And such places could use community support more than ever — just ask the owners of Hamburger Mary’s, Jade, Friends (and apparently Cherry Bar?), Harley’s, Homme, The Eagle, The Door, Unique on Central. …

Maybe Phoenix Social Club’s next scheduled event will be at someplace like Bliss/Rebar or Fez, and I’ll gladly eat my words as well as an entree—hell, I’ll even thank the founders. (I still refuse to have my photo taken in front of that picture wall.)

But let’s face it — at these events, you’re still, essentially, going for the bar and the boys. The plates and the price tags may be heftier than traditional bar food, but chances are you blew your cash on the drinks, not dishes. The difference between a “cocktail mixer” and a cruise bar is pretty much the lighting and the glassware.

While some people who went to Sunday’s mixer at the Hotel Valley Ho pool may have spent Saturday at Pride and decided not to return a second day — hey, it was 97 degrees outside, so I wouldn’t have wanted to, either — deliberately scheduling a competing party that draws potential revenue away from an organization that relies on attendance to help fund the following year’s event seems thoughtless at best, and mercenary at worst.

And those who opted for only cabana-bunny duty that weekend successfully proved that they’re just as good as the Scottsdale douchebags who pollute similar resort party pools every weekend. (Only better, because I bet they did it in Speedos or squarecuts instead of board shorts.) And that’s exactly what gay pride weekend should be about, right?

So when next year rolls around and they think about complaining how the Phoenix Pride acts are “so lame,” they’ll need to ignore the fact that if their record PSC attendance had all ponied up $20 admission and bought a few beers at Indian School Park, the folks who put together the festival — and earned money for their clubs and nonprofit groups by pouring the drinks — could’ve upped their ante that much more in 2012.

The shirt: Domo T-shirt from Urban Outfitters, downtown Phoenix.
The pants: Dark-wash jeans from Uniqlo, New York.
The shoes: Sneakers by New Balance, from Sports Authority.

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