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Bear Happy Hour (with Tom Goss)

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Town Danceboutique was the largest gay danceclub in Washington, D.C., open between 2007-2018. And it was really one of those mega-clubs that you don’t see much of anymore – split levels, multiple rooms, outside areas, video installations, LED lights, and a proper stage.

I met up with singer/songwriter Tom Goss, who lived in D.C. for ten years after leaving the seminary, and first happened upon the Town through one of its events, Bear Happy Hour.

Follow Tom on Instagram.

Tom Goss  00:00

I looked at him and I said, Are you trying to ask me if I’m a prostitute? He said, he said, Well, yeah. And I said, No, I’m not a prostitute. Why would you think I’m a prostitute? And he said, Well, I’m, I’m an old man, and you’re a young man. And you’re talking to me, and I let them have it. I said, I’m not a prostitute. I’m just from Wisconsin.

K Anderson  00:29

Hello, I am K Anderson, and you are listening to lost spaces, the podcast that mourns the death of queer nightlife. Every episode, I talk to a different person about a venue from their past, the memories they created there, and the people that they used to know. town dance boutique was the largest gay dance club in Washington, DC, and was open between 2007 to 2018. And it was really one of those mega clubs that you don’t see much of anymore. So imagine split levels, multiple rooms, outside areas, video installation, LED lighting, and a stage area. I caught up with the wonderful singer songwriter Tom Goss, who lived in DC for nigh on a decade. And first happened upon town through bear happy hour, one of the many nights run at the venue.

Tom Goss  01:55

Well, it’s really a couple of different cities. I mean, there’s the political city, and that has its own ecosystem. And frankly, I don’t know much about that. I lived in in DC for 10 years. And I didn’t really fuck with with politics, and I mostly dislike politics. So it wasn’t really a sphere in which I was interested in being involved in or that I was hustling to try to be a part of. Now most people in DC are, are a lot of people in DC are. There is a really kind of, like, very strong nonprofit community in DC, too. That’s trying to make the world a better place. And, and I was involved in that. And that was really great. the queer community is huge in DC, everybody’s gay in DC. And, and so I was also very, very involved in that. But, um, but it’s also a city. That’s, that’s changed very dramatically over the past 15 years. And by the time I left DC, it wasn’t the DC that I had grown to know and love. And that was a little difficult to watch. You know, mostly because new money came into town and gentrification, which, you know, of course, I’m a part of Look at me. I’m a white kid, white, middle class kid from Wisconsin. But it’s a really wonderful city. It’s a very small city. It’s a very manageable city. It’s it’s, it’s like the combination of a big, big American city and a small and a small, sleepy southern town. It’s kind of got both of those vibes happening.

K Anderson  03:35

And so how did you end up there?

Tom Goss  03:39

I was going to be a Catholic priest. So I went to seminary in Washington, DC I had, I had grown up. I grew up in Wisconsin, and I went to school near near Kansas City. And after college, I decided I was going to be a priest. And so I went to Catholic seminary, and I joined a religious community and that religious community had their training, for lack of a better term in in Washington, DC. So I moved to Washington, DC.

K Anderson  04:09

And so that So then how long were you doing that?

Tom Goss  04:15

I was in seminary for a year and a half. I’m sorry, I moved to Washington, DC to join seminary and that lasted about a year and a half. I made it through what they call you know mishit year and then I was in my first year of studies, and it was just, it was just a bad place. real bad place for me.

K Anderson  04:34

Are you okay to talk about them?

Tom Goss  04:36

I mean, sure. I talk about all the time. Yeah, it was just you know, it. You know, it’s hard at this point in time, because that was 15 years ago. You know, I’m honestly really grateful for I just the people in the community were not great and I had a bunch I had some people that wanted relationships with me in different times. have relationships with me that I wasn’t interested in having with them. And that was that was, that was hard. Um, you know, it was kind of it was kind of a predatory place. And, you know, all of the all of the, the What do they say? There’s, there’s always some sort of truth to a rumor or to a stereotype. I’m getting the same wrong. But um, but yeah, I mean, for me, it was a really, really bad and unhealthy place and a predatory place. And so I left. And I and honestly, the truth is, I’m kind of grateful for being what it was. Because if it wasn’t bad, I’m a very, I’m a very stubborn and committed and loyal person, I probably would have spent 567 10 years there. Had it not been such a horrendous experience.

K Anderson  05:51

Hmm. And so where, like, Where were you on coming to terms with your sexuality when you went on this journey?

Tom Goss  05:59

Well, when I entered seminary, I wasn’t I wouldn’t identify as gay. I think for me, I was identifying more as asexual than anything. I wasn’t interested in women. But I also wasn’t interested in men and and part of it was the people that I hung out with, you know, I wrestled through college. So I’ve always been an athlete. And so I’ve always, you know, so even through college, I was showering with 60 guys a day. These are, you know, 18 to 22 year old, really handsome, Midwestern man with the, like, the fittest body, you can imagine, like it’s wrestling, and, and I wasn’t attracted to any of them. Um, I don’t feel like I was hiding my sexuality. I just didn’t understand it. You know, for me, I’m attracted to men of size, I’m attracted to men in the bear community. And I just don’t think that I knew that was something that I could do. You know, the world doesn’t tell you, Hey, if you’re looking for your, your, you know, your sexual desires, why don’t you look at that chubby guy over there. You know, it’s not, you know, you don’t see any representation of an in media, or an entertainment. And it certainly wasn’t something that I even knew so. So when I entered seminary, you know, I just didn’t think I had that thing. That was part of the reason that I entered seminary, because, um, you know, the big sticking point for most people is celibacy. And I was already celibate, and I didn’t really have an interest in sex. So it seemed kind of a really easy fit for me. But I did while I was there, I did come to a different understanding of my sexuality, and realize that I was into, you know, bears or jobs or however you want to call it. And. And that was a wonderful, that was a wonderful revelation for me, because, you know, being gay is hard, is hard sometimes, but being asexual was harder. I never I didn’t know anybody who felt like I did. At least when I was gay, I could be like, Oh, these people feel like I do. Therefore, I’m part of something and I can be understood. Whereas before I felt really like, like this alien, huh.

K Anderson  08:22

But then, did you not? I mean, so this is me making massive assumptions. So please correct me. Did you not experience any kind of stigma for fancying bears? I mean, sure, but I don’t give a fuck. You know.

Tom Goss  08:38

I mean, once you’ve once you’re gay, like, you’re gonna get a stigma for being gay, you’re gonna be discriminated against for being gay. It’s, you know, liking bears is hardly going to be

K Anderson  08:49

Oh, sure. And maybe maybe I haven’t worded my question. Right. But I mean, like, when you met other gay people, was it? Was that ever a barrier? I mean, I mean, I can’t say that. It

Tom Goss  09:03

is there hasn’t been instances where it is, you know, especially in Los Angeles, especially in West Hollywood, especially in entertainment. But I don’t you know, it’s similar to to what we were talking about earlier. I’m not interested in being inauthentic. Like I’m interested in being who I am. And if you’re going to if you’re not going to, if you’re not going to hang with me, because my husband is bear.

09:31

Well,

Tom Goss  09:32

great. Now I know. Now, I know that we shouldn’t be friends. You know? I’ve never really it’s never really been a thing to me. I’m I’m a weird dude, man. I I’m a gay guy who plays an acoustic guitar and writes folk songs, and likes bears and love sports. couldn’t care care less about most of the things that gay people love. And if I spent my life trying to be what other people expected me to be, I would be very unhappy. And I think I’ve known that for most of my life.

K Anderson  10:17

And, and so then you say, You left the seminary. And at that point, you’d kind of come to terms with your sexuality. We’re sorry, like that, like, you ever come fully to terms with your sexuality. That’s like an ongoing thing. But like, you know, like, for the purpose of this narrative, you’d come to terms with it. And then So was there ever a consideration of just leaving DC? At that point? I mean, I live in LA. No, no, at that point, when you left the center, why did you stay?

Tom Goss  10:50

That’s a really interesting question. I mean, for me, it was kind of a freeing moment where I could do you know, when you go into seminary, you pretty much give up everything that you own. So I didn’t own anything, really, I didn’t have anything. I didn’t have any connections, anything. I certainly didn’t want to go back to Wisconsin, and I certainly, even more, so didn’t want to go back to Missouri. Which is where I went to college. And, and I started thinking about what did I want to do, and I had been doing things that were very heavy and intense and, and I just decided that I wanted to make a record. And, and I was playing guitar, and writing songs. And my songs were finally not shit. So I thought, like, I’m just gonna make a record that sounds fun. And I had a couple friends in DC that weren’t in seminary that were that were also doing music. And then I felt like we’re really great people. And I felt like it was a community that I can build. And so I made a conscious choice. Like, okay, DC is a place that I’m going to start building my life. And almost immediately after I met my husband, and I mean, I probably met him two weeks after I left DC. And, you know, I mean, sorry, after seminary, and then it was over, you know what I mean? It was like, that was it. And that’s part of the reason that some of this, that all of this I don’t really have, I don’t really have a ton of feelings around it. Um, you know, even though it was traumatic, like I say, it was traumatic, but I don’t feel it was traumatic, because I don’t feel those things anymore. And that’s because I met my husband and he healed almost immediately. And I was so so lucky to, to, to leave seminary. And honestly, like, two weeks later, start building this this wonderful life of which I have.

K Anderson  12:45

Like, so. So anyone who’s listening to this will know that I’m very cynical about all this mushy love shit. But did you just like meet him? And just No.

Tom Goss  12:57

No, I mean, it wasn’t like, I met him and really liked him. And then we hung out. And you know, then we’d go on different dates. And I just, we just had a lot of fun together. So we kept having fun together. And then it was like Christmas. And, you know, I went away, went home for Christmas. And then I had this trip to LA planned, and I did that. And I just missed him a lot. It was weird, probably dated for two weeks. And then we went away for our respective holidays. And I just missed him a lot. And he missed me a lot. And then we came back. And we started dating. And and then by that point in time, yeah, in some ways, it was kind of over by the time, you know, by the time it was April, it was probably Yeah, it was games that match. Wow.

K Anderson  13:47

Sorry. This is just like, you know, when people that when people are sure of anything, I’m like, wow, how are you? Sure. Anyway, but that’s my issue. That’s not your issue. Now. So and so then At what point did you start going to town? Oh, and also just a point, a question of clarity. If I call it that town dance boutique, does that mean I’m an out of town or and I have no idea what I’m talking about? Okay.

Tom Goss  14:13

Well, there was this really wonderful, um, you know, in retrospect, it was a really wonderful time to exist in Washington, DC. There was a really, you know, there’s this whole bear, bear movement and body positivity movement that is happening in the world right now. And it is wonderful to see. But I would say that the bear community in DC really was growing, and so extremely strong. Way before it was happening and the level that it was happening in other places. So, so I would say around 2010 I started hanging out at bare happy hour, which is where there’s this group in DC called the DC bear crew run by these guys charger and Scott and this super cool and town wasn’t even open yet they were they were they were they this was an event that that was moving, you know from bar to bar. Yeah, ours opened his bars closed and there was this new venue opening up called town. And I’m not exactly sure of the dates, but I think it would be 2010 2011 maybe even two I don’t think it would be 2012 I my guess would be 2011. So bear happy I moved to town. And we started going to bear happy hour we became really good friends with Scott and charger. And it just became this place that when you think of a bear happy hour and what bear happy hour was before town was you know, a dive bar this like small dive bar. There’s 10s 20 there’s 30 maybe 50 people right? Like all the sudden town set in town started opening early because this is another reason maybe it was I didn’t know about it because I’m not really a late night guy on town is one of those clubs that opens it like nine or 10 or something like that, which that point in time I’m like ready to go home. But they started opening early forbearance happier I think if five and maybe six I think it was even as early as five on a Friday. And better happier would go from five to nine I think when kind of the normal club kids started coming in around nine. Um, but if but they would open at five and this thing which is normally and which is still most places 2030 4050 people would be 1500 bears and people who like bears and people that just wanted to like chill and have no drama and like eat pizza. Every Friday night. It turned into this really amazing wonderful, loving huge community in that’s that was Scott and charter and and town is just such a wonderful space. Um, and so you could come in for an hour meet some friends leave and come in for two hours you can stay the whole time like it was really quite quite a wonderful place and and and so they asked me, you know, so then they started doing music musicians, he said doing performances. It’s a townie town is really a dance club and a drag club really. And that’s what they’re known for. So they have stages, they have lights, they have all this really wonderful stuff. And they said during performances and so, um, you know, charge asked me for my new performance. I said, Yeah, let’s do it. And the day before the performance, I was like, Oh, I’m doing a I should write a song about bears for this bear happy hour performance. It would be so fun. And I wrote this song called

K Anderson  18:16

Ah, I wrote inspired the song.

Tom Goss  18:19

Yeah, so I wrote it for this one show. And people freaked out. And I and I think then the next day I went to that weekend I went to this place called Easton mountain. For this for this music festival. There’s a lot of bears that go there. I played it, they freaked out. Like I just started playing it and everybody just loved it so much. And so we thought Wow, well I guess we’ll record this and one of the guys who I had met at bear happy hour rich morale who’s a wonderful it was fucking brilliant producer brilliant songwriter. He was doing a lot of this this big bear dance party called on blow off at the time with rich morale who’s a big rock star you know, like who’s who’s could do and sugar like these and they were doing this fucking amazing dance party and so I met rich through bed happy hour and then he produced the song and it was just so much fun. And then we went to do we then we made a music video. And of course, we had to, we had to shoot at town, you know, town was so so such an integral part of, of this story of bears and and i think in retrospect when I but in retrospect when I watched that video, it just makes me smile because that video really captures what was going on in DC at that time. The really strong bear community, the huge bear community, the You know, this is what happens. This is what happens. Like once something gets popular and cool. And there’s people of benefit in it long enough, they start fighting with one another, right? A community as a whole as an example, is that okay? Now we’re accepted. Okay, so now twinks need to fight with bears and lesbians unify with gay people. And it’s like, and it’s fucking so stupid. We do this too. As soon as we become big enough to be assimilate, we start fighting within ourselves. And I think that was a really wonderful moment in DSD. And again, props to town and props to Scott and charger for really bringing, like, just such chill energy to it, where everybody just was getting along, and everybody just was having a great time. And we shot that music video, and I didn’t, you know, there’s a big really big club scenes in that and I, you know, we opened up we just shot at town, they opened up at like, five o’clock on a Thursday. And I was like, I hope people show up because that that club is fucking huge. If like 17 people showed up that night, it would look horrible. And I we showed up to shoot and there was a line around the block. And I just was like, amazing, so overwhelming. Such an overwhelming amount of love and support in in that community at that time. I mean, it’s still there. But, you know, in a couple years, there’s gonna be people that don’t like that happy hour, and they start making their own happy hours, eating happy hours, and then you can’t go this happy hour, you got to go this happened. There’s like five happy bear happy hours every Friday night now, you know, it’s like, it’s it’s ridiculous. But and that’s fine. I mean, everybody should have their own space, as long as you’re not being negative about the other person space, you know,

K Anderson  21:52

am I talking about this, this segregation, because I think it’s really fascinating that when a community gets to a certain size, it starts splintering off in different ways. With the bear community itself, is there any subgroups within that? Yeah, so many? Are you kidding me? Oh, tell me Oh, yeah. Tell me about it. There’s like bears. And then there’s like charms, and there’s like super charms? So what’s the

Tom Goss  22:22

little bears? I mean, honestly, it’s, it’s, I would say, My definition is, is you are what you say that you are? You know, I think there’s there’s become kind of,

22:37

um,

Tom Goss  22:42

it’s hard to, you know, if you think of like, if you think of like a hierarchy of gay people, but like a 22 year permit? Or is it I don’t know, thinking about what that means in terms of power, you would be like, some 22 year old influencer, muscle twink they would kind of be at the top of that, and it’s not dissimilar in the back community, there would be like, if you if you would create a hierarchy, the muscle bears would be on the top of that hierarchy. You know, there would be the cool kids. Um, and, and I think, the further you look from that, the further away you look from that, the easier it is, maybe for you to feel like you don’t belong, or ostracized, it’s not dissimilar to high school. Um, and, and it’s just as ridiculous as high school. Oh, yeah. And I’m not trying to validate it by talking about it, I suppose. I’m just really fascinated, just fascinated that that people do kind of splinter off into these groups, and I just wanted to understand more. Well, I mean, I think it’s kind of human nature. I mean, if I hang out with my friends that are chubs, and don’t carry a lot of muscle, and I just mostly chubby. Um, they oftentimes don’t feel like the bear community except summer or one summer loves them in that way.

K Anderson  24:05

But isn’t that like, isn’t that where the bear community sprung up from?

Tom Goss  24:10

Yeah. I don’t know why. I’m not saying it’s logical. I’m just saying, see, you know, it’s ridiculous.

K Anderson  24:18

It’s fascinating, isn’t it? And he’s like, yeah, this whole muscle bear thing. appeals is like, they’re just appropriating that badge. The muscle bear badge, the muscle badge. I mean, it’s the bear the bear badge, because, like, as far as I understood, the bear community arose as a rejection of this hype, polished, looking, hairless stereotype of a gay male. rejecting that and saying, like, No, actually, you know, this is we’re just kind of regular men. And this is how we look and we’ll Have a carry and we like to have normal bodies. And it feels like the muscle bays have come in and been like, Oh yeah, I’ve got body here. I’m gonna steal that terminology for myself.

Tom Goss  25:14

Sure, like I have some health that I’m a little fat, but I have muscle and you’re fat, you’re more fat. Like, it’s, I don’t, you know, just it’s so it’s so very ridiculous to me. And I love it. I

K Anderson  25:29

love that they’re otters. And what’s the other one?

Tom Goss  25:36

cubs? cubs? Ah, yeah, you know, it’s interesting. It’s interesting to me, because, you know, I make, you know, for me, my I make a lot of visual content. And it’s very important when I create my visual content. Again, authenticity is important to me, it’s important that I cast people that I think are beautiful. And so I’m never going to be like casting a twink is my love interest, because, first of all, they have enough jobs. And, and that’s not really where the kind of man that I desire. So I want to be honest about that. And you’ll oftentimes see, actually, you probably won’t see it now that I’m mentioning, nobody will see it because I delete comments so much. People will comment like, Oh, those guys on bears, they are just bad. Or the same really mean Wow. And I just, I mean, I delete that stuff all the time. Because the fact that I don’t want that negativity. And it’s and I don’t believe it to be true. And I’m not going to get into an argument about it. Like if you if you want if you want to talk about your your tastes and your beauty and and go ahead and make your own song and make your own video. That’s great. But don’t trash out. Don’t trash other people. You

K Anderson  26:47

know, it’s I mean, it’s so fascinating, because who like this whole thing about commenting? Because, like who actually thinks that we give a shit about your opinion? Like, every single person in the world? Oh, wait. Oh, like, obviously, I take that back if someone has something nice to say. But like, ever, you’ve just got something that’s kind of like, kind of shady, kind of petty. Like why do you feel the need to come in? It’s really odd.

Tom Goss  27:15

I don’t know. I don’t know. It’s It’s It’s sad. I mean, I don’t know why why we feel like and I think community generally, really values meanness, and cattiness. And, you know, we encourage it in a lot of ways. And I’m not sure that it’s always healthy. Do you think it’s like, Oh, God, let’s

K Anderson  27:42

not try and psychoanalyze people. No, let’s just step away from that conversation. Okay, okay. Let’s go back to town. So, so town really helped kind of accelerate this consolidation of the bear community.

Tom Goss  27:55

Absolutely. And I think you know, you talked we talked about the splinter off into different bear happy eyes, but the truth is, you know, once town closed, how you know, when there’s 1500 people showing up every single week, town was massive.

K Anderson  28:12

So to town to talk to me about like, what what is the venue likes walk, you walk to the front

Tom Goss  28:18

house, it was just this huge warehouse. It was two storeys, and eventually, they even built an outdoor patio. So you could probably have three 400 people outside before you even could fit. I don’t know what the capacity is. I’m not sure but it was crazy, huge, crazy huge. And you know, exposed bricks, and great lights and great sound and just a great low key vibe that made you feel comfortable and once they built the patio was just like all these places to sit in a bar out there and it was just like every and all in the thing that was really fun too is they they the thing they did for bear happier was I think it was $5 pictures now I don’t drink so forgive me. I never once bought a drink.

K Anderson  29:11

The reason I closed

Tom Goss  29:13

if there is a backlog? No, it was really it was really like because all the neighborhoods changed so quickly. But they you drank out of a picture. They had these you know, everybody, like it was super super fo masculine. I mean, it was sometimes masculine, but they’re all gay guys. So you’re playing off a stereotype. And everybody was holding a pitcher full of beer and just drinking out of a pitcher. Like it was so much fun. And they they would deliver like 50 pizzas at seven o’clock and then like all the bears would take their pictures and walk up to the pizza and like, eat the free pizza and like, it was so much fun.

K Anderson  29:54

So not only did you not buy drinks, you took free pizza. Yeah. Now Come on.

Tom Goss  30:02

I went to that club, you know, probably 50 times or better happy hour and probably spent, you know, $20 at out loud, I kind of feel bad.

K Anderson  30:15

No, but no, but like, genuinely It is really hard when you don’t drink alcohol, because you can’t you can’t drink that many cokes without like just getting on a sugar high. So I’m totally with you.

Tom Goss  30:26

Yeah, I mean, I would just kind of sip on water. I definitely bought some waters too. I mean, it’s okay. You don’t need to know. So let’s talk about their happy hour. What would I expect if I when apart from pizza, just like a huge warehouse full of dude’s and, and everybody kind of like, open to having a conversation. Like Earl, if you were there early, if you were there, like six 630. You can you can steal just a bunch of spattering of people and you could join any conversation that you wanted to. If it was more closer to eight, then you can pat like packed bodies. everybody all the time. You couldn’t move through that crowd without somebody grabbing your shoulder and hugging you. And saying like, Oh, it’s great to see you. Oh, hey, what’s up? I’ve seen you around before. What’s your name? Yeah, it was very friendly. It was very much like small town gay America. Oh, wow. Yeah. And how do you like, how do you think they achieved that kind of small town? Because DC is not a small town? Really? How do you think they achieve that vibe? Um, I think that, I think again, it started with Scott and charger and town. Like, I don’t think they they ever were trying to be anything but what they were. They were like, We are just a bunch of dudes who want to see our friends. And that’s it. We want we want our friends to feel comfortable. We want to create an atmosphere, which they would think is fun and comfortable. And for bears. You know, oftentimes, it’s just a beer and pizza. So if you can transpose, the kind of familial pneus of being being amongst friends in your living room, and having some beer and playing video game, or watching TV, or watching a movie and having a pizza, like, honestly, when we think about the moments that are so fun to we, that’s it. We just hang out with our friends in place, we feel comfortable having a good conversation, and having some good food and drink. And that’s all that they did. They didn’t make it super fancy. They didn’t try to sell you something that you didn’t want to buy. They just created a familial atmosphere.

K Anderson  33:02

And, and so like, was there any other than yourself course? Was there any entertainment like drag or performances?

Tom Goss  33:12

Yes, again, town is really a dragon club bar. So the drag happened every single Friday, a meet at the bear happy hour. This is really in some ways pre free. Drag Race to like it was the very beginnings of it. Yeah, every single drag race performer has performed at town. They would occasionally have maybe I would say like, once a month, they would have performers. So that would be like, you know, me or Big Dipper?

33:44

or,

Tom Goss  33:45

um, you know, other people that were doing things in the bear space. I’m trying to think of who who they were but I’m not really. I’m drawing a little bit of a blank, but that’s okay. Yeah, there was a downstairs and an upstairs. Oh, and then we started doing Barry Okey, so the upstairs was a whole huge warehouse. And that’s where there would be like 1000 people, right. But then downstairs, there was another club, which is where the drag happened and where the performing happened. It was really designed for performing. And that was probably like, a 300 capacity, space. And so down there is where the performances would be. So you could go to the performances, and you could go upstairs and talk to your friends go down and fonts like it was kind of like just this casual thing that was always moving. Um, and then for a while, for a long time. They were also doing bear yoky. So

K Anderson  34:40

yes, and I want to ask about this.

Tom Goss  34:42

Yeah, so if you weren’t, if there wasn’t a performance and there would be people singing karaoke and and it was just like, all this little low key fun, like none of it was none of it was full of pressure. None of it. Everything was fun.

K Anderson  34:59

So then Like, you know, the obvious question for me to ask now is what is your song of choice for karaoke?

Tom Goss  35:09

Honestly, I didn’t sing karaoke that my my side choice for karaoke is is these days has been Xena song, this hidden there as code at Delphi for that white dough. This one for the hook girls and good girl string masterpieces Who is that? styling? wireless? living it up in the city? Got Chuck stone Oh, stay around

K Anderson  35:37

Uptown Funk. Yeah, I’m

35:38

tough. Okay.

Tom Goss  35:41

I just like to and I just like doing fun fun stuff. You know, for me, there’s so many guys who get up there guys or gals, and they’re singing like the slowest ballad your God. So

K Anderson  35:51

Jerry, I have it. Even though I’m a performer, I fucking terrified of karaoke. I just hate it so much. But um, I have this, like, if I ever open my own karaoke bar, which you know, that likelihood is not high. I would make sure all the songs finished after one and a half minutes, because no one wants to sit through the whole thing.

Tom Goss  36:12

I think if it’s fast people do. I mean, the great thing about Uptown Funk for me is that, like, I can jump around on stage. And there’s a call and response and people you know, people get into it. You know, and I think like if I

K Anderson  36:26

if it was a boring performer, like you need a contingency plan.

Tom Goss  36:30

Agreed. I think if I was opening a karaoke bar, it would be all fast songs. It’d be like, like, 1000 songs for ballads. And you can

K Anderson  36:38

you want to sing my heart will go on, we’ve only got the version 160 BPM. Sorry. All right, cool. So is this a business idea that we need to discuss more? Yeah, sure. That was that was convincing.

Tom Goss  36:57

I mean, I just do the dumb I, you know, I’ll do hip hop, all this stuff, like, whatever is gonna make me look stupid, and it’s gonna get a laugh. I’m done for.

K Anderson  37:06

And so so if we move away from their happy hour for a moment, sorry to do that. Did you? Did you ever go to town on any other night?

Tom Goss  37:14

Once or twice? Not, not really. I would probably say that the majority of the people that went to bare happy hour did not go any other nights. Because it was a very, very different crowd. So this 1500 people a week, you’re talking about 10,000 people that are running through there, you know, every couple months, right? Because it’s not the same people every single week. Um, and I would say that almost all of them never went to town at any other time. And I mean, I have friends in the music industry. So sometimes they’d be spinning they’d be like it’s like dance club. And so I’d go at midnight to town and check out check out their sat and like dance and stuff like that. Or drag show, but it was honestly kind of hilarious because you around nine o’clock, if you stood at the door because now there was a line because there was a cover. If you if you went to bear happier there is no cover. But you would see like 40 year old men in half open flannels and graphic tees. All bearded and a little tipsy walking out. And lines of 20 year old 20 year old twinks in in tank tops in glittery glittery outfits and Daisy Dukes waiting to get in. Like the two demographics couldn’t have been much different. And it was very, it was very interesting to watch.

K Anderson  38:56

But okay, so what happens then? When you’re at a bear night, and someone who’s attracted to bears, but isn’t a bear goes have a set upon?

Tom Goss  39:11

Um, I don’t know. I mean, I guess he right. You’re describing me? I’m, I’m pretty oblivious to to flirting? I guess. So. I guess it depends on who you are. I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t say that. But maybe it’s true. Maybe I just dumb. And that could totally be the case. I also, you know, I’m also from Wisconsin, and I’m very, very friendly. And so I think people think I’m floating on them all the time. So if I’m having conversation with somebody, I think people are probably hitting on me and think I’m hitting on them. But mostly I’m just, I had this really funny interaction at 440, which is a bear bar in San Francisco where I was up there for sure. When I was talking to this guy, he started asking me this really strange series of questions. And I realized at some point that I looked at him and I said, Are you trying to ask me if I’m a prostitute? He said, he said, Well, yeah. And I said, No, I’m not a prostitute. Why would you think I’m a prostitute? And he said, Well, I’m, I’m an old man. And you’re a young man. And you’re talking to me, and I let them have and I said, I’m not a prostitute. I’m just from Wisconsin. We talked to everybody, you know, and I think that was what was great about the bear happier vibe is it kind of had that Midwest really laid back vibe. Like everybody just talked to everybody there wasn’t. I’m sure that there was somebody who walked in and and a lot of people hit on him, but I think everybody was more just happy that the week was over. Happy to see their friends. And if they went there, and and they found somebody to go home with, they were like, happy about that. But if they didn’t, they certainly found someone to go to dinner with, you know, they find a group of friends to go to dinner with after a win win.

K Anderson  41:17

That is a win win. Well, it depends what you’re having for dinner, I suppose. And, and so do you remember hearing about the venue closing?

Tom Goss  41:29

Yeah, of course. I mean, it was a big thing. And then they announced it for like, a year like they knew about it for like a year.

K Anderson  41:38

What was the reason?

Tom Goss  41:40

It’s really just a neighborhood gentrification. Really, like they’re, I think the owner of the building is, is turning it into a condo, it’s probably there’s probably a huge lawn that was really the whole the whole neighborhood was just going up in these big you know, modern condos in and they can make much more money on the, you know, making a condo than they could have. Really, regardless of how successful town was it wasn’t the town was town was always super successful from the jump. Um, but yeah, I mean, the neighborhood just changed so drastically. And that’s really what it was.

K Anderson  42:22

And so when you heard about it closing What was your reaction?

Tom Goss  42:28

Well, I had a final so there um, I was very sad. You know, we came back and we knew it was closing you knew the date that it was closing so you know, so I talked to charging Scott we had like, we set up a final performance and I went there and I had a performance and I had a very happy hour and I gave a lot of people hugs and and yeah, I mean talking about it now I’m, I’m getting high on emotion like I want to cry a little bit. It was such a wonderful wonderful space and such a wonderful group of men that wanted that space.

K Anderson  43:05

And so what’s happened then to the bear community in DC Do you know Yeah, well there’s a lot of

Tom Goss  43:14

you know, so so charger Scott move that back happy hour about a block away to this bear bar called up roar. And so I’m the DC bear crew bear happy hour is now happening up roar. There was a bear another bear happy hour that splintered about a year before town closed. On the east side of town at this place called rock and roll hotel. There was a bear happy hour that opened up at the ego but I just saw that the ego permanently closed. Um, so there was a lot of their happy hours that splintered into but you know, when I’ve gone back after town has closed I’ve gone to abroad and seen charger and Scott and all that. But, you know, again, if you’re going from a warehouse to a dive bar, so so the vibe is really different.

K Anderson  44:09

Mm hmm. So if you could go back one one last time. What would you do?

Tom Goss  44:19

Hmm, what would I do? I would give a lot of hugs. That’s really what I would do. I would I would. I would like breathe in the moment of the thing. I think the thing about I think the thing about that the the places and the people that are influenced, most influential to you sometimes is it you don’t know they are more influential to you, the most influential to you until it’s gone. And so now that is On, I feel so grateful to, to have made bears and to have made that music video and to have a visual representation and have been able to capture that energy of that thing that was so amazing because that that video really captures the energy of the people there. All the people in that video I met at bare happy hour, every single one except my husband are from that bear happy hour days. And so if I could go back, I would just go back with with the with the reverence of knowing that this is a magical thing and a magical place and you don’t know it because you think every place is like it. But I’ve gone around the world now. And and I’ve gone to so many rare events, and nothing compares to what that was.

K Anderson  46:02

Did you ever go to town dance boutique? Well, if you did, I want to hear all about it. Send me a message hit me up on Twitter, Instagram, yada yada yada. my user name is K Anderson music. Find me there and tell me the gossip. Let me know what you did, and who you did it with. Obviously, last basis is not only a podcast, but a concept record as well. I’ve been writing songs about queer venues and the people who used to live their lives there. And we’ll be releasing songs over the coming year. You can hear the first single which is called well groomed boys playing underneath my talking right now on all good streaming platforms. If you liked this episode, I would really appreciate if you subscribe, left a review on Apple podcasts or just hold people who you think might be interested in having a little listen to. I am K Anderson and you have been listening to lost spaces.







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