Queer Corner: Not My Jug Life



Eugene Riordan

I think the Jug is just trying to mess with me; we no longer see eye-to-eye. Maybe I’ve been too sober the last couple of times I’ve gone, but I’m pretty sure the music is chosen to drive patrons away. I don’t even know who in our student body would request ’30s jazz tunes fol­lowed by obscure hip-hop and then some sweet bluegrass to dance to on a Friday night. It’s be­yond my comprehension and leaves me shaking my head quite often.

The Jug and I, we have a history, and I know the place pretty well. I used to be a huge fan. I would go weekly with a friend as a first-year and we would have a great time boogying around the floor, laughing and having a great night. Each year I would have a lot of fun dancing there, but each time would be different and I would question what I really liked about our downtown dance hole. It’s senior year, and I’m not as happy with the Jug as I could be. I do have a coveted V. I. P. pass, which makes an in­credible difference, even if I don’t go very often (that’s right, wait your turn, underclassmen). I know almost everyone that goes there, so I get a lot of hugs and high-fives. Yet there is a lot that happens at the Jug that makes me uncomfort­able for a lot of reasons, and I won’t go into my thoughts on the spectacle here because I’m sure you’ve heard them before.

However, what I do think is important and what comes to my mind most often is that the Jug isn’t my space and doesn’t offer me really anything that I want from a late-night venue.

The things that a lot of people complain about (or would) really don’t bother me to a terrible degree: the overcrowding, the long line, the expensive drinks, the creepy bathrooms; even getting vommed on from a friend a couple of times while there didn’t dissuade me – my nicest garments are just no longer Jug-worthy.

Things that do matter and bother me a great deal might seem strange: the oft-un-danceable music, the way my friends get constantly cruised and my lack of any options. Oh, you didn’t real­ize that the Jug wasn’t a gay club? The seediness factor is there, but that’s not all that is required. And I’m pretty sure Mr. Jug wouldn’t look good in a cocktail dress. The thing I would say is the most defining factor of a gay club is the open­ness of the patrons: no one really cares who you dance with, how they’re dressed (from Goth to jock), what gender they are, anything. Of course, everyone will gossip about your choice of dance partner, but ultimately it’s a celebrated arena, elevating dancing for dancing’s sake.

That isn’t my experience with dancing at the Jug. Of course I have heard of same-sex couples dancing there while people looked on with nothing happening (except there being a wide berth around the males, because the most muscular of guys were afraid of skinny gay boys). Maybe it is a case of past experiences col­oring perceptions. I just won’t forget the night I danced with my boyfriend there (tamely, I might add), when we were subject to shocked faces, angry comments and a couple of aggres­sive approaches which had to be dealt with. It was the closest I’ve ever come to getting in a fist fight because I was so nervous and so upset that people at our school would treat us this way. (Also, I was going mama grizzly over my boy­friend – no one was going to mess with him.)

The Jug should be mine, too: my friends and I should be able to go there and dance with whomever we want and not feel unsafe or in­secure because of the fact that we’re queer. It’s a stretch to call it a “dance club,” but as far as I can figure there aren’t any “No homo” signs hanging at the establishment (though I’ve had that said to me while standing in line). I would love to go to the Jug and have a realistic chance of meeting a guy, dancing with him (to an en­tire night of good, danceable music, please) and not feeling uncomfortable (even if they would be slim, slim chances). That can’t be completed by me and my big gay self; it takes the work of this entire community.

Some of the campus took back the Jug last weekend, and I don’t want the queers to take it back from here on out: I just want us to take it with everyone else and feel like we have a space within the social life on this campus that isn’t sectioned off or diverted elsewhere.