I definitely do. I can play the game, tell the jokes and poke fun at it like any proper Houstonian should, but Dallas has it going on. Now, you should understand that my opinion here is coming through a large and mighty queer lens. To clarify, I love the part of the Big D that runs down Cedar Springs from the Melrose to Throckmorton, the gayborhood.
Prior to Airbnb being a thing, I used to always stay at the Melrose. Yes, I do know it’s now the “Warwick Melrose,” but I’m ancient and so I’m allowed to use the former moniker. I’ve always adored the gorgeous, historic hotel: friendly service, intimate piano bar and mainly…the location. It’s only a stone’s throw away from JR’s, the Round Up, TMC, Hunky’s, Skivvies and a whole collection of LGBTQ-friendly establishments. Staying at the Melrose in the past when I was still drinking was also a strategic move because you can easily walk from the hotel to all of the aforementioned places.
I was in Dallas for a conference this past week. Unlike usual, I had no luck on Airbnb. Everything was overpriced, out in the suburbs or just didn’t look cool. So, I looked at the Melrose. Y’all, I was able to book a king room for $95. That’s crazy, right? It must be covid pricing because even way back in the day you could never secure a rate like that. It was certainly as charming as I remember. And the experience combined nostalgia and novelty as it was the first hotel I’ve stayed in since the pandemic. (Mama, if you are reading this, for good reasons I am not counting when we split a room at the Microtel in Greensboro, NC for Thanksgiving.)
On my first night there, I walked the strip from the Melrose down to Skivvies. It was just like old times. I guess the only differences would be that I was not drinking, had long hair, had a mustache, was single and was wearing a mask. I guess I should take that back. It didn’t feel like old times. It just felt good.
Even though I’m fully vaccinated, I’m not quite ready to go into a gay bar (for pandemic reasons not emotional ones) and so I did not pop into any of my former favorite watering holes. However, as an absolute priority I did a little shopping at Skivvies. Since I’ve mentioned this establishment three times now, I should explain it to you if you don’t know. It is what it sounds like. It’s an underwear emporium. It’s the bomb and there are always the nicest folks working there. The selection is ridiculous. And, except for thongs, you are allowed to try things on.
It was Tuesday night around 9:30 pm and I’m wrapping up my shopping experience. Very fortunately I didn’t do too much damage to my credit card. As I’m making my way to check out, I overhear two (very “Dallas”) gents speaking with the staff behind the counter. One is saying, “I mean…Austin is supposed to be so liberal, right? Like ‘liberal’ in all caps, you know? But their gayborhood is a joke. It’s actually nonexistent.”
This is an eavesdropping opportunity that I simply must insert myself into. So, when the nice team member came over to ring me up, I said, “I couldn’t help but overhear those comments about Austin.” I went on to say, “I love Austin to death, but I wholeheartedly agree with those guys. I’m old school. I like a proper gayborhood. I don’t like it when people say that it’s better when there isn’t a gayborhood because that means the city is more integrated and forward-thinking.”
Staff member: “Excuse me. Who on the earth says that!?”
Me: “Well, it would be the people that live in those ‘forward-thinking’ cities.”
Staff member: “That’s absolutely the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. Hello…that’s on the level of saying ‘I’m colorblind’.”
And that right there is another reason I love Dallas.