October 2006


My Queer Weekend

I left Weimar this weekend for a number of reasons—the specific ones are not especially important. As you might recall, my original plan was to go used underwear shopping in Berlin, but ended up going to Frankfurt, Trier, and (as I write this, enroute to) Antwerp.

Suffice it to say, Frankfurt continues to disappoint. I went there with the expectation that I would be able to find fabulous gay life. Instead I found a crowded gay bar just a few steps from my hotel called Zum Schwejk. I popped into Zum Schwejk at something like 23:00 and was handed a drink ticket, something that I don’t recall having encountered in Germany before, but whatever. The bar was well decorated for the upcoming Halloween holiday—a holiday not generally observed in Europe quite the same way it is in the States.

The bar, when I arrived was very busy. In the next 30 minutes it went from “very busy” to “gosh, wouldn’t it be more comfortable to spend the evening locked inside a sardine can?” tight.

Now, generally speaking, I don’t get claustrophobic too often. I lie on airplanes when people ask me to shut the window shade claiming claustrophobia, and refuse to change seats for the same reason—I just like looking out windows. However, it does legitimately happen to me every once in awhile—and it did so at Zum Schwejk. I was in the back and having just sent IUMike an SMS telling him he was on my mind (tune on the stereo: “West Virginia”), it suddenly occurred to me that in order to put my mobile back in my pocket, my arm was going to hit at least three people. I started to panic, and decided it was time to leave—and it took at least 5 minutes to go no more than 20 feet.

One “Gin Tonic,” 4,50€.

I wandered around the neighborhood briefly, as I was in the heart of the Frankfurt gay district, but nothing else spoke to me. 11:30 was too early to hit any of the dance clubs (not to mention, the biggest dance club I could find reference to, Blue Angel has a website that redirects to the German Amazon. Not very useful for telling me if the club still exists, nor what the theme of the evening might be.

So once again, Frankfurt has left me cold. There were only three bright spots about my trip to Frankfurt. First, I re-found the Frankfurt gay monument—something I had accidentally found the first time I had visited Frankfurt, but lost track of. It is, as I recall, one of a few in Europe (I’ve been to the one in Amsterdam, and I’m pretty sure that I’ve walked right by, but not realized it, the one in Berlin). The second bright spot was that I purchased two pair of underwear—neither one were used, but one was deeply discounted coming in at 10€, and the other had a price tag of well over 100€, but were actually sold for the regular retail price of 12€. The third bright spot was Starbucks.

Yes, Starbucks. As an aside, whilst I do my best to avoid Starbucks in the States because of its corporate hegemony and my endless want to support small locally owned businesses, I actively seek Starbucks in Germany (sorry Chicago Anki). In fact, if Starbucks were to suddenly open in Weimar, my “Weimar Office” would rapidly relocate for one simple reason: wherever you are in the world, Starbuck Coffee shops are smoke free (my favorite moments at Café Laden are the times when I am alone and the scent of freshly ground coffee dominate; a moment easily spoiled by one smoker).

So while Frankfurt disappointed, I was much happier last night with my stop in Trier. My friend in Trier and I got together and made our way to the Théâtre Municipal Esch-sur-Alzette in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg to see “La Cage aux folles,” as done by a local English language amateur theatrical group. Clearly many aspects of the production were quite amateurish and annoying, in particular the use of microphones to make audible the performers singing over the orchestra, but leaving the mikes turned off at all other times. That aside, it was an enjoyable performance—the first live theater I’ve been to since the last time I was in London.

Our journey to Esch-su-Alzette was brief (Luxembourg is rather small), and the city was charmingly quaint and beautiful. The theatre was on the pedestrianized Rue de l’Alzette and was impressive for a city of 27,000 people. Unfortunately our stay was all too brief—and after finding only restaurants with 20€ entrees (US$25-30), we ended up getting small sandwiches at a small bar located just opposite the theatre.

After the show we headed back to Trier, stopping just before the border in a gas station small city misnamed Wasserbillig—Petrolbillig would be a better name. By the time we got back to Trier it was 00:20 11:20—and we had an extra hour of much needed sleep, thanks to the impending end of summer time.

Note to my Namur reader: I was geographically stupid and I never thought about stopping in Namur to see you until the train was pulling into the station. At that moment though I was clueless how I would find you on a Sunday.

13 comments to My Queer Weekend

  • IUMike

    Just read this post when you texted me about Flags of our Fathers…I hear it’s not well done.

    Being packed into a bar with a lot of hot men sounds better than where I was when you texted me…the middle of a long Friday afternoon faculty meeting. So stop yer whinin!

  • “Frankfurt continues to disappoint”… yeah, I know the feeling. The longest month of my life was a week in Frankfurt (although for very different reasons, I’m sure :-).

  • i love places that are smoke free!! one smoker can ruin it all…so i understand. though i do like starbucks 🙁 I’m evil. but I do frequent the other locally owned places too 🙂

  • MT

    I just about died when I saw how much you paid for that drink. Gawd.

  • Present / Future / Antwerp

    Back when I was busy watching Firefly, I noticed that the future lacked Wal-Mart. And such absence is not limited to just Firefly. Even in Star Trek, whether the Enterprise was visiting a wild frontier outpost or a modern star-base,…

  • Rodney


    I just wanted to let you know that I was actually in the cast of La Cage aux Folles in Esch!

    A few of my friends and I read your blog the day of the Saturday performance and they looked for anyone they thought might be you during the intermission.

    I would have loved to have met you. It’s not every day I get to talk to a fellow gay American.

  • Hey Rodney! Do you live in Esch?

    La Cage aux Folles was the highlight of the weekend. We (that is to say my Trier Friend and I) really enjoyed ourselves from our seats in the balcony–we were in the third or fourth row back on the right hand side (as viewed from the audience).

    After seeing La Cage, I started thinking about a trip to London more seriously in order to see plays on the stage. It’s been too long and the only thing I want to see in Germany is the Blue Man Group in Berlin — but at 70€ a ticket, I am reluctant.

  • Rodney

    I live in Luxembourg City.

    I’m glad you enjoyed yourselves. That was our final performance so you guys were our best audience by far.

    You should head back to Luxembourg in April to see the production of “Steel Magnolias” that I’m directing.

  • Luxembourg City is rather beautiful… I once spent a few hours wandering the city. The only thing that dismayed me in Luxemourg City was the Chi-Chis right next to a Pizza Hut. I want to return to the city sometime on a day that is not Monday (all the museums were closed).

  • Rodney

    If you ever come back this way, drop me a line.

    There are plenty of things to see and do in Luxembourg.

  • I will… can you send me an email at my gmail account. It’s elmadaeu at gmail dot com.

  • […] It is a city that has a soul—something that stands in stark contrast to my Frankfurt encounters. […]