By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
OK, so we know about the Splashes, the G's, the Barracudas, the Meow Mixes, the Cocks, and the Holes that litter the New York bar scene, but where can queers of color go when they're in need of a little, uh, seasoning in their nighttime soup? We understand those yearnings for a vibe a little outside the Wonder Bread variety. Here are a couple of ideas.
In my 'hood, ROCKWELLS(31 Rockwell Place, Brooklyn, 718-488-8338) on Saturday nights is the best place any black gay man in Brooklyn can be. Most of the boystwenty- and thirtysomething muscular thugs with girlfriends probably waiting at homeare in a lively mood in the dank, narrow, cinderblock-walled storefront. This is probably why random buppies like myself often stop in to hang. There are the odd culture clashes, like when a fashion queen in Helmut Lang jeans and twists tries to order a Red Bull vodka, later explaining to the dumbfounded barkeep that you can't make a Red Bull; you mix it. "I'll just get a vodka tonic," he says, sighing in defeat. Taking a lesson, I order a wretchedly alcoholic cranberry vodka ($6) and melt into the crowd to dance as guys grind each other in time with the Ashanti single that comes on. JOSÉ GÉRMOSÉN
"You light it on fire," the bartender guffawed as he sent my Chueca shot (Malibu, Bailey's, and Kahlúa, $7) ablaze. I'm no pyromaniac, but what's a few eyelashes? I love Latin bars; they serve the most innovative libations. The Colombian lesbos of CHUECA'S (69-04 Woodside Avenue, Queens, 718-424-1171) half-mirrored, dimly lit pad really know how to take el licor. On any given Friday or Saturday night they're perched at tables or at the cushiony black-lined bar snapping drinks back like it was a little agua. Feeling compelled to keep up, I tried a CB Red Cherry Bomb (Midori, amaretto, and Bacardi O, $6), a Robitussin-y concoction. Still, as the crowd got naughty and the bartenders took to dancing on the bar, I sampled a shot of (my favorite tipple there!) Colombian-made Aguardiente Cristal ($5), which is kind of like Sambuca with less kick. The only fire here is in the pit of my stomach! KEISHA FRANKLIN
THE HANGAR(115 Christopher Street, 627-2044) is an old West Village standby that's always impressed me with its ability to attract a completely split audience of every race, from weekend leathermasters to dressed-down black and Latino men. Tuesday is 2-4-1, when Diego, a big, quiet black man in a dusty ball cap, plays the day's tapings of MTV2. He has good taste and you can sit for hours watching the highlights of the fiercest women in r&b. I sip on a Stoli Rasberi and OJ ($5.50; two for one on Tuesdays)nice and strong, but not totally bitterpeeping the fly looks and vocal range of Sharissa, Amerie, and the new Beyoncé cut. I get into a deep conversation about Aaliyah, as her video for "More Than a Lover" finishes playing on the set above us. More intense moments can be had here, to be sure. J.G.
I used to think I could sing, but somewhere between my 16-year-old chorus recitals and my blunt-toking college twenties, my surety went astray. This may be why I took to guzzling cosmos ($7.50) at CRAZY NANNY'S(21 Seventh Avenue South, at Leroy Street, 366-6312) very ethnic, very soulful Sunday karaoke night. While honey-colored, somewhat ghetto-fabulous hipsters played pool, other professional laid-back women served as audience to surprisingly gifted vocalists. It was here, amid the scant decor (bare wooden chairs, raised television screen) of this bi-level, dive-like bar, that my lifelong dream plummeted. Luckily, a Long Island iced tea ($7) and sex on the beach ($6.50) later, the only thing that mattered were hilarious hostess Lisa Love and the few women slinging their bare breasts onto the bar for a free-drink tradition called "titties on the table." God bless 'em. -K.F.