Friday, March 25, 2011

The Machine: Loud, Sweaty, Awesomely Homosexual

I could write about going to the Boston Public Library. I could write about going to Castle Island, to Faneuil Hall, to a movie premier, or any of the numerous adventures I’ve had in and around Boston. But, I’d rather write about that experience which stands out in the monotony of the past few weeks.

Let me transport you to a magical place, 1254 Boylston Street. Arrive at the appropriate time and you’ll feel steady vibrations pulsing underneath you. It’s not the Red Line or the Green Line. It’s The Machine.

I don’t know what image the name “Machine” evokes in your mind. In my mind there is a massive mechanism humming violently below Boylston Street, controlling with cogs, wheels, and levers all life in Boston. Unfortunately, there is no such machine. After forfeiting a ten dollar cover charge and passing through a miasma of secondhand cigarette smoke, you will realize the truth. The trembling is the sonorous crescendo of immense, underground speakers.
An image from The Machine's website. A decent swath of fellows
and ladies enjoying a bedazzled Christmas queer-tacular.



Holy sequins, guys, we’ve just entered one of Boston’s notorious gay clubs. Allow me to embrace my inner narrator in an attempt to describe the whole scene.

A long, rectangular bar straddles one side of the club, elevated above the dance floor by a single perilous step. Men and women encircle this alcoholic watering-hole. This quiet bunch stand alone together, shoulders touching but with no signs of interaction. They are the shy or the coy type, playing the game slowly and cautiously. Or they are the voyeuristic type, prying into a predominantly adolescent nightlife. Others among this diverse crew act as though they don’t want to be here. Most of them are older. Clinging to the bar like drowning men cling to anything that floats, they try to conceal their self-doubt in glasses of blue liquor. What could have brought these people to this place? The answer is likely depressing. They’ve come on a quest for love, companionship, something to cling to other than a glass and a cell phone, something animate and warm.

But The Machine is more than just a dance floor and a bar.

There are various elevations to this large room. With the exception of the wooden dance floor, every floor is covered with a deep blue carpet. Occasional tables with seats, empty islands in a tumultuous archipelago, are scattered here and there in this no-man’s-land.

There’s a coat check in a corner. Go here to keep your extra baggage safe in a back room for just two dollars per item. A line of dozen bodies huddles against the wall, waiting to shed their winter skins. Here, that average-looking guy you passed on the street molts his cocoon of layered clothes and dons a pair of sexy, skimpy, go-go hot pants. Cha ching, he forks over ten bucks just to bop around as near to naked as is allowed.

There is one other notable room in The Machine, one that I call “the oasis.” When you enter The Machine’s front doors then descend down three dozen steps into the belly of Boylston, you are given a choice. Door number one: forward through a glass portico is the main body of The Machine, where most of the dancing and boozing and pre-coital tomfoolery transpires. Door number two: to the left there is a well lit room with a few flat screen TVs, some pool tables, yellow couches, a small bar, a dart board. . . more like a tavern than a dance club. Most of all that room represents something my outing lacked – conversation. Call me old fashioned, but I like to talk to someone before I do anything with them. Also, this room adopts a golden color because of its lighting – it’s almost as though The Machine has its own built in Shangri-la for those of us who prefer silence and human interaction over eardrum-bursting beats and uncertain, seedy gyration.

Let’s return to the main room with which I am intimately familiar. This room isn’t bright and clean. It is dark and it is dank. An odor of smoke, alcohol, and cologne dripping off in sweat ferments the air. The smell is so potent it’s almost a taste, thick and gooey as melted cotton candy.

Now for the most important part of the club – the dancers.

Navigate between those two hunks undulating against stripper poles and you’ll find yourself in a thick drink of dancing hormonal beasts. The average age of the dancers in this dim-lit underground party decreases as you get closer to the nucleus of the dance floor.

Some are adrift, dancing with others indiscriminately. Strangers dancing against strangers inside this box of blinking light and heavy backbeats. These lascivious dancers move from guy to guy as easily as I move from aisle to aisle in Shaws.

There are some who are alone on the dance floor and remain in the same spot. There are others who came here with someone or found someone. There are the drag queens – men dressed in high heels, boas, skirts, and little else. There are the grinders, the hand-holders,  and the real dancers (who do more than bob up and down). Finally, there are knots of people like me. I’m stuck in the middle of a tight circle of friends, rarely venturing out into that vast, dangerous territory.
I should imagine that The Machine on a Tuesday night is not what
you had in mind for rehab. 

The Machine is a gay club at 1254 Boylston Street. They have loads of events . Friday is an 18+ dance night. There are drag shows on the weekends, trivia-nights on Tuesdays, and upstairs (a region I didn’t dare explore) they have “fetish-festivals.” If you want a good time with loud music and a bunch of sweaty, attractive strangers who will flirt with you, go to The Machine.

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