Step back in time


My friend Alok invited me and a few friends of his along to see a new Indian film made by a director he knows personally. The film was called Dhobi Ghat, which is named after the place in Mumbai where all the laundry washers do their work. The film was in no way a typical product of Bollywood, as there were no big splashy musical numbers and no one ended up getting married at the end. It was a much more somber affair than that, but I really enjoyed it, as much for the Bombay atmosphere as anything. It really made me want to go back for a visit, so many of the places in the film were familiar to me. After the film Alok’s friends suggested we go to a gay bar close by, and it ended up being a place called The Townhouse. This is a place I have heard of for a long time, but never happened to go to because it is so far east (58th and 2nd) and I am never over there. The place was a laugh riot. It was like time traveling to some pre-Stonewall era bar, everyone dressed in suits or sweaters with collared shirts underneath. It easily could have been 1965 at a meeting of The Mattachine Society. I found it charming as a kind of themed costume party, and Alok and I talked about going back at some point, but I think if this were the only gay bar in town I could just as well get a cat, stay in, and watch old Bette Davis movies on an endless loop.