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So, I’m kinda fascinated with gay country and western bars, where people dress up in their finest cowperson garb, and square dance, two-step and mosey on down…
This isn’t something that I think is a thing in the UK, so it’s just been a curiosity to me until now.
But, luckily for me, Dennis Hensley – writer, performer and host of the podcast ‘Dennis Anyone?’ took the time to tell me all about the etiquette, the ceremony, and the vibe that you’d find at Oil Can Harry’s, a country and western bar in LA, which unfortunately closed during the pandemic.
Along the way Dennis tells me all about his experiences fumbling with men-folk, feeling lonely at the club,, and how it felt the first time he saw two men dancing cheek to cheek.
Dennis Hensley 00:00
It was just not trying to be cool ever. And as a result, it was always kind of wonderful.
K Anderson 00:08
Hello, I am K Anderson and you are listening to lost spaces, the podcast that mourns the death of queer nightlife. Now, every week I talk to a different person about a venue from their past, the memories that they created there and the people that they used to know. So I’m kind of fascinated with gay Country and Western bars, where people dress up in their finest cow boy, cow person, cow woman, outfits, they square dance, they to step they mosey on down and they do things like that, that I have heard in American TV shows, but don’t actually know what they mean. Anyway, this isn’t something that happens in the UK or in Australia or anywhere else that I know of. And if I am wrong, please do let me know. So it’s just been this odd curiosity to me up until now. But luckily for me, Dennis Hensley, the writer, performer and host of the Dennis anyone podcast, took the time to tell me all about the etiquette, the ceremony, and the vibe that you would find at oil can Harry’s a country in western bar in LA, which unfortunately closed during the pandemic. Along the way, Dennis tells me all about his experiences of fumbling with men folk. And you know, I like a story about fumbling with men folk, feeling lonely at the club, and how it felt the first time that he ever saw two men dancing cheek to cheek.
Dennis Hensley 02:20
I have confidence around dancing the way guys would big dicks must have about their dick in the locker room. You know, I mean, like, I have a bit of swagger around it. Right. And I think that that attracted this particular person, and who He was a handsome guy, and we dated for a while, and it didn’t work out. But he was somebody that I met at Oil Can’s, and I think that light for me in that place, dancing in that way, was me. I felt sexy in that in that in that space. Mm hmm. And I think it worked on him anyway. You know?
K Anderson 03:00
Wait, so then your plan was to dance, make sure they see you dancing, and then yes. Hey, you want to slice it is?
Dennis Hensley 03:09
Yes. Yes. The thing is, and I think this has happened a number of times in my life is that I don’t always that’s the sexiest stuff. I do.
K Anderson 03:19
It do. Well, that’s why it goes downhill from there. Yeah. Yeah.
Dennis Hensley 03:24
Like, wait, where’s that slutty guy that knew all the moves? You’re? Yeah, that’s, that’s not. That’s not how you
K Anderson 03:32
translate the dance moves that you’re doing? Well, to what you’re doing horizontal cut, isn’t it?
Dennis Hensley 03:39
I mean, theoretically. It is it that just hasn’t been my MO also, maybe because there was I was I am better at dancing than I am a sex? For sure. For sure. What?
K Anderson 03:53
Why are you telling me this?
Dennis Hensley 03:54
Well, I don’t know. I just felt like, it felt like a relevant topic.
K Anderson 03:59
And I did like I do appreciate it. I want to.
Dennis Hensley 04:02
I thought this is a freewheeling thing.
K Anderson 04:07
It No no, no, no, it’s not disgusting. It’s just an interesting observation to make. Sure. And is it because you were afraid of sex? Or is it just that you’re actually just terrible at the mechanics of sex a little
Dennis Hensley 04:21
above? Or, or I was disappointed in it once I started experiencing it. It didn’t come as naturally to me as dancing. If that’s if that makes any sense. You know, some people are like, I just did what came naturally. Yeah, please. I wish I wish any of it came naturally in terms of pure mechanics.
K Anderson 04:39
And so is that related to your direct enjoyment of it? Yeah. And then, so you didn’t enjoy it. So you didn’t kind of know to pursue like, I’ll do more of this because this is fun.
Dennis Hensley 04:52
That’s, I don’t have a lot of memories of having my world rocked by it. For sure. And that’s another thing that I Would wouldn’t mind another cracker?
K Anderson 05:01
But and so is it always just like, Oh, that was a thing I did. And now I have to clean up,
Dennis Hensley 05:08
though it’s more of feeling like you let the other person down. Oh, really? Yeah. i There have been more than one person that would see the kind of person I was on the dance floor and be like, where that guy go? You I thought you were confident in this way.
K Anderson 05:20
Okay, but did they actually say that to you? Were you projecting round to them?
Dennis Hensley 05:24
I think I think one at least said it. Yeah. But not in that cruel way. But like, yeah, I remember when I met, like, like that was so there was so much confidence there. I thought that was so sexy. And this is different.
K Anderson 05:40
Oh, that’s interesting. Yeah. What do you think it is that you just overthink it?
Dennis Hensley 05:46
Possibly. Yeah. Also, I think starting late and having it so loaded with negative messages wasn’t helpful. But I’ve had time to try to work on that and, and have at times, but it’s been an area of frustration in my life, for sure. And
K Anderson 06:05
you’ve said about if you had the opportunity to do things over you do things differently? Does that mean that you’re not willing to explore now?
Dennis Hensley 06:15
Um, no, I am willing to explore now. Absolutely. It’s hard during the pandemic, for sure. Now, that’s kind of easing up. Yeah. But you know, I’m, I’m a man of a certain age. So, yeah, it’s something I’m absolutely open to doing and, and, and have taken steps toward doing
K Anderson 06:35
more about this statement. I’m a man of a certain age.
Dennis Hensley 06:38
I’m, I’m in I’m 57. So I don’t know, you’re just the people you meet are younger than and some are attracted to guys your age and some some are like, don’t get out of here. Troll? Yeah, what’s the feeling of like, you know, youth is a commodity for a lot of for a lot of people. So yeah, and maybe that’s all in my head. Maybe if I actually got out there in the world, it would not be a big deal at all. And everyone be saying, Daddy this daddy, that. But also, if you want a daddy, you want a daddy that fucking knows what he’s doing? Right? That is not my MO. Well, it’s like, I
K Anderson 07:15
Dennis Hensley 07:18
Yeah. Um, yeah, I just don’t know if anyone’s kink is my particular intersection of attributes. But, but it’s, but I’m not not going to bemoan it, I’m either going to try to do something about it. I’m not gonna feel sorry for myself, you know, like, I’m gonna explore it or whatever. And I’m going to take some chances. And I had right before the pandemic, I had a nice little situation. So I would be open to more of that.
K Anderson 07:46
So if anyone’s interested, drop us a line here, you
Dennis Hensley 07:50
know, for sure, for sure.
K Anderson 07:52
He said, The, the thing that you’ve said about us being a commodity, I do find that fascinating. I mean,
Dennis Hensley 08:00
maybe we just pursue perceive it to be, and maybe it’s not as much because I know people that are like, You know what, I’m a daddy, and I get I get, I have no trouble.
K Anderson 08:09
But this is what I’m about to get onto as well. Like, I know, lots of people who are not skinny, or like not like this kind of, quote, unquote, acceptable body shape. And so they’ve just decided that, oh, well, I’m just not going to be sexual, I’m just not going to have sex. And that the same thing happens to people when they get to a certain age, like, oh, the world doesn’t want me to have sex anymore. I’m just gonna stop having sex. And it’s like, what the end like, I’m not saying that I don’t understand where they’re coming from, because all messages that they’re receiving Are you are undesirable. But it’s like, you don’t just stop having sexual needs and desires and functions, like, go out and get it
Dennis Hensley 08:56
right. Some of my friends, the thing that I admire most I can think of a handful of friends that have this sort of confidence around it, and a very positive outlook. And I’m like, Yes, that is what I would like to move towards. And they’re not always the youngest, and they’re not, you know, always the prettiest or whatever. But they are like, they’re confident and they enjoy it. And they have a kind of a positive outlook around it. And I admire it, and I try to emulate it. But something else that happens though, as you get older is your friends that you used to go out to the club with, they get partners, and they, you know, boring, well that you’re just you’re there your crew are gone. So like when I think about my oil cans, friends, a lot of them are settled down and that’s it, you know, so
K Anderson 09:46
So let’s take a step back. Sure. Have you always lived in LA?
Dennis Hensley 09:51
I grew up in Arizona, a small town in Arizona, and I went to university in Tempe, Arizona, which is the bigger city Phoenix, Metropolis area. And then I moved to Los Angeles right after college. And I’ve been here ever since. Although I worked on cruise ships for a few years and was gone a lot. But LA was my base. So I’m pretty much here since right after college.
K Anderson 10:19
And have you been a practising homosexual the entire time you’ve been in LA?
Dennis Hensley 10:26
Yes. I mean, I think when I first moved here, after college, I had not ever been with anyone. And I had my first boyfriend experience on the cruise ships. So I had moved I think I moved to LA. When I moved out here with my car full of stuff. I think I had never been with anyone. Yeah, I know. I was the late bloomer, for sure. But
K Anderson 10:52
is it one of those situations where you had decided? Well, as soon as I get to LA, that two breaks are off.
Dennis Hensley 10:59
No, I in college, I started to know, oh, I’m gay, like, these, I’m into these guys. Like, I’m really attracted to this one. And I had a friend that I was in love with. But I didn’t have the courage to act on it. What’s his name? I don’t know if I want to say it. Let’s make up a name. Right? His name was Harry. And he was younger than I was. And we only spent, you know, as a short sort of intense period as friends, right before I moved, and I didn’t have the courage to say how I felt and what was sort of going on. And he was younger than me. So I didn’t feel like I didn’t even want to be responsible for my own sexuality, let alone his. But that had happened before I moved out to LA. So it was I knew what I knew what I was attracted to, but I hadn’t acted on anything. Also AIDS was it was the mid 80s at this point. So it was in the news a lot. And it was scary. And it was killing people. And so that that was a part of my thing. And I was also sort of just kind of late like I I looked like I was in junior high when I was in high school. And I looked like I was in high school when I was in college. So I just kind of I wasn’t one of those guys that had pubic hair in like high school PE or something, you know what I mean? Like, I was the one of like, When am I gonna mature. So I was just kind of behind. And I also was raised Mormon. And so I don’t think I had a lot of spiritual guilt, shame, I’m bad or whatever. But I did have this thing of like, wanting to be responsible, wanting to be a good boy. But I think that had more to do with my family life than the religion. But I was kind of late in terms of coming into my sexuality. I was kind of afraid around it, for some very valid reasons. And some that I think were self imposed. And I also was a little moralistic about it, I was a little like, promiscuous people that was that was there was something bad about that. There was something bad about being promiscuous. I’ve I’ve changed on that front a lot. And I if when people talk about like having another life or whatever, I’d like to have another crack at being a yes. Or, or, or not having judgement around that and seeing if it is for me, or if you know what that is. That’s where I’ve changed my most my attitudes have changed the most, I think, from when I was a younger person.
K Anderson 13:37
And is that wrapped up in the whole messaging around HIV prevention, which was one of shame.
Dennis Hensley 13:45
I think, for me, part of it. Sure. But it but it started earlier, when I think in in American culture, maybe it’s true over there to like, nobody tells you sex is fun and beautiful. It’s dangerous. It’s scary. It’s sinful, you’re sweaty. If you’re gay, it’s horrible. If I had crazy guilt about masturbation when I was a teenager, oh, wow, that was the one thing I was doing wrong. Everything else I was good. And I’m gonna stop, I’m gonna stop. And then you know, that would last a few days. But like, you know, could you imagine? What if somebody had said, Hey, this is a normal part of life, everyone does it. Enjoy yourself. Someday you’re going to attract other people. That’s beautiful. You know, some people like to be with lots of people and that’s okay. And some people don’t and that’s fine, too. Like, like, there was nothing, no messages. And also there was everyone was afraid to talk about anything. Like I remember once asking my father during an episode of Charlie’s Angels, what prostitution was because I didn’t know what what it was. And of course, every episode is about prostitution. And silence, nothing. Nothing. So my family that time nobody talked about anything. Ham. to do with sex or sexuality, or or your body changing anything like that, so you’re on your own right. And then there was a bit of a religion thing in my background, although I never really beat myself up around the religion stuff too much. Thank God I had friends that were Mormons who just went through hell conversion therapy and all kinds of crap. I sort of drifted away from the church around college because I started doing theatre and that became more churchy. To me it became more meaningful and in spiritual in a way, I guess. But there was a lot of fear around sexuality and stuff, although, of course, you have attractions and you are feelings, and you are horny and all of that stuff. But it’s felt like something that I had to keep an eye on. Don’t get AIDS. Don’t you know what I mean? Like, for sure.
K Anderson 15:54
And then so you had recognised your sexuality before you move to LA.
Dennis Hensley 16:01
But yeah, I mean, I, I started to put it together. Like the last couple years. I’m like, I like guys. When I went on the cruise ship, I had my first male kind of boyfriend, I guess. But I was sort of seeing a female dancer at the same time. And she knew about it. And it was sort of clear to me that like, Okay, this is where my, I like the guy. The guys are. It’s different. I’m into guys, for sure. But, you know, even then I was still pretty conservative and like, I don’t drink I’ve never drank. And so I’m not going to get drunk and have a tumble. It just doesn’t, it doesn’t happen. I’ve never been into drink. I’ve never cared about it and never found it interesting. I always felt like it was wrong for me. And when I was working on the cruise ships, of course, a lot of people drank there’s a lot of partying and all that stuff. But I just was never it never felt right for me. So I think if I had been a drinker, I might have had more early experiences. It might have broken down some walls a little bit. But it just that was never going to be my thing. I wasn’t into it.
K Anderson 17:06
But so moving to LA where it’s quite a mecca a centre of gay life. Yeah. For for many Americans. Well, how long was it before you started going out on the scene exploring dipping your toe in the waters?
Dennis Hensley 17:24
Well, I worked on the cruise ships for about four or five years on and off. And so it wasn’t until the early 90s. When I settled back in LA that I started going out to clubs and dance clubs and sort of meeting friends and the first kind of clique, or I guess a group and place that I got into was oil can Aries that was the first time I’ve sort of found my, my people, and I’ll go there, and I’ll know people and this will be where we hang out. And we’ll go multiple nights a week. And we’ll try to meet guys and we’ll dance and we’ll you know, that was our Hangout. And it was our chairs, you know, where everybody knows your name. And I remember the first time I saw two men dancing together in in a whole, like, you know, with their arms around each other and how strange it was to see like, and there was a probably a little bit of internalised homophobia in it like this is this looks weird. This is weird. But then it was also sort of like beautiful once you kind of got over the visual, you’re just not used to seeing it, you know. And they would do like waltzes, and I’m a dancer. So I love dancing and any kind of dance and expressing myself through dance. And so when I saw that dancing was such a part of this subculture, like you went there, and you ask people to dance and they said, Yes. And you danced and they did line dances. And then there was the barn dance where there were two circles, and you met you switch partners that you met everybody. I forgot about the barn dance until this moment, I think it was wild, wild west was the song. And I think it was a wild wild west. And so I became like, Oh, this is really fun. This speaks to me. It’s sexy. But it’s it’s friendly. It’s not dark. It’s not super sexually aggressive. And you know, it’s not front and centre sex, which I wasn’t comfortable with yet. I probably still isn’t, but I wish I were more. And I was really like, Oh, this is cool. You can meet somebody like this. You could talk to them, and you can connect and and I like dancing and I’m a good day. I’ve confidence around dancing. I can shine here. I can be cute.
K Anderson 19:31
Talk to me about the advocate because I’ve never ever been to a country and western bar. I do not do not understand what happens. It is really
Dennis Hensley 19:39
that’s what was so unique about it. It was like oh, like an old fashion sock hop from a 50s movie. Like somebody would ask you to dance and you would say yes, and you would go down on the floor and most of the dances were two steps. And so there would be two stepping lessons and line dancing lessons twice a week at oil can Harry’s so if you knew you might want to like bone up or if you just like learning different line dances, you would go to the lessons and I did some of that, but not a tonne of it. Plus I pick up choreography kind of quick. So because of the dancer, so it was like, Oh, I can I know, right. I know exactly what it’s like, I got this. I got this, although some of them are really intricate. And I would be like, I can’t I don’t. I thought I knew that. But I don’t I clearly don’t. So, yeah, yes.
K Anderson 20:26
So was it like this song is always yes. Dance.
Dennis Hensley 20:29
Yes. Okay, like there was a clogging number that was very ambitious, like, it was almost like tap dancing. And it was to the song called rhythm of the road. And if you were going to do it, you had to have gone to a bunch of lessons because it’s hard. And I learned it. And so whenever that song would come on, everywhere, like right out of my way, I was like, doing this and I’m gonna fucking kill it. Right, I’m gonna like I was very don’t pop the head, Cassie, like I was a little bit like chorus line. And I have my boots. And sometimes I did have a hat. I didn’t wear it that much. But I my cowboy boots and the jeans. And it was like you would dress appropriately. And you would do those that rhythm of the road clogging. But they were most of the songs were sort of two steps, which was just a kind of a simpler dance that you do and hold. And it’s, it feels a little unnatural at first because it’s not in for for time. And it’s kind of a different time. But you just get in the rhythm and you just keep going. And then there’s somebody that leads and somebody that follows. So somebody would ask you to dance or you would ask somebody to dance and there would be like, do you lead or follow?
K Anderson 21:33
So was there an expectation that if you were the person initiating that conversation, you would be the one leading or digital?
Dennis Hensley 21:41
Yes, but not necessarily because I think somebody would ask somebody to dance and it was like, What are you more comfortable with? What do you like to lead? Yeah, I can lead or somebody was new, or they might follow or whatever. Okay, there was certain people that were like, Oh, that guy’s a really strong leader. And he’s, you know, he’s got an alpha energy to him like a little bit of that top and bottom thing, but it was a little bit more like a dance by dance basis, kind of like, I like I can follow or this guy’s a really strong leader or this person’s news. So I will lead. You know, I was kind of comfortable in either position. But one of the things I remember most fondly is there’s a type of dance called the shadow dance, and instead of facing each other, you’re kind of spooned, and if you’re in the front, you’re kind of leaning back against the guy. And you do the same rhythm have to step around the floor, but it’s a slower song usually. And it is a sexiest thing. It is so sexy. Like when I hear that a lot of miles song black velvet, velvet. That is a ShadowDancer oil. Can Harry’s and you with the right partner? It was so erotic. And I, I mean, I could see, I can imagine myself sort of making faces as you were going around because you know, he’s behind you. And there’s a rhythm to it. The hips are going it’s incredibly sexy. So I remember the first time seeing people dance like this, it was a little like, that’s unnatural, and also very, very hot. Like it was it was so hot. And
K Anderson 23:10
I like that’s unnatural. Sign me up. Yes.
Dennis Hensley 23:13
For sure. It was super hot. And also, there was just something sweet about somebody asking you to dance and there was an innocence to it. There wasn’t as much rejection, there wasn’t as much like you’re not hot enough. You know? I do remember one guy that I really thought was handsome, asking him to dance and he rejected me said no. And because it was like me getting up the nerve to ask him and he said no. And I still remember what he looks like, and what his vibe was like, I know I’m hot. I know. I’m really handsome. Yeah, I’m really like the top 1% out here. But I do dance with some people. And you can come and ask me but yeah, I said no. So that was the vibe. And I made it I always say yes. I always said yes, I wanted I didn’t want to make people feel bad.
K Anderson 24:06
So what happened then if you’ve got like halfway through a song and the person was a really bad dancer, you just got to stand it you just go through
Dennis Hensley 24:13
No, you just go through it, you do your best and you laugh it off. And you will can Harris was a place where people felt safe to mess up to be good dancers to not be good dancers to make a fool of themselves to wear this or that or like a there was something about that place that felt like you weren’t being judged every second. And in a world that’s very hard on gay people, but also a gay community that can be like, can you believe he’s wearing that shirt? Or or Gosh, he’s 31 he needs to fucking die already. Like, you know there was not a lot of Lux ism. There was not a lot of body ism stuff although there were hot guys that went there. And that you know, that you would think of as typical, whatever but but they were The Outsider, the you know, like if there was a circuit boy type that would show up, he was the outsider, he was the the novelty, the freak, if you will, in that space, he was also very popular. A lot of curiosity, and I’m sure he did quite well, people are very excited about it. But it wasn’t like a circuit party where everybody, I remember once the first time I ever was around a circuit party, I’d gone because a friend of mine was doing some kind of performance there. And I was just kind of along for the ride. And there was a van, that would shuttle the guys from a parking lot, you know, a mile away to the venue, which was some fancy mansion or something, and the vans would just open and these guys would get out. And they were all stunning. And they all had the same body. And I was like, they’re the same people. Like it was just van after van and I was like waiting for my friend or something. And I was like, oh, what were they like, before they became each other? Like, I just thought it was so weird. And it also made me feel unattractive and not enough. And I needed to stop eating bread. And I got it. You know, that was the way to be. But it was a cultural moment for sure. And a phenomenon that made you feel either not enough or just I could be judged on that you have to do drugs, and I hate the music and but oil. Can you already said none of that.
K Anderson 26:23
Isn’t it fascinating when you simultaneously have this view of like, Oh, that’s not something I’m particularly interested in. I wouldn’t want to do that. But also like, Oh, I’m really jealous of them.
Dennis Hensley 26:35
Yes. Because sometimes I think like, I might be looking at something on Instagram, or some some porn II thing or something. And I think there’s a part of me that would like love to go all in on that. I’ll get I’m gonna get the hot body and I’m gonna have all the friends and we’re all gonna fuck each other. And what would that be like? And there’s a part of me that thinks, oh, that’s kind of sexy. And then I realised I hate the music. I couldn’t get past the the music. I really couldn’t. I could I could maybe muster some discipline and change my body and all the stuff and I would go there and I’m like, I can’t I need a melody. I do. You need you know, it’s a bunch of people secretly wishing that they would play holiday by Madonna. Or escapade, don’t you? Did they? You know, we’re all trying to look cool and trancy. But we really just want to hear Oops, I did it again. Or toxic. Am I right? That’s how I feel. So what’s my age? But so yes, there is there is something primal and sexual and oh, God, they’re sexy? And what would it be like to have that kind of power to feel to have that kind of confidence around your sex appeal and your ability to perform in that way? I admire that. But then I remember I can’t with the songs or the drugs. I’m not I’m not gonna I’m not into that either. Not like I secretly want to be and I’m just afraid. No, I’m not into it. Not in doing. Yeah,
K Anderson 27:55
I mean, I think it’s just like, for me, the, the amount of time you need to spend at the gym.
Dennis Hensley 28:00
It’s a lot. Yeah, get other hobbies. It’s a lot. And it’s also like, you can’t let up it feels like, I’m always interested, when you’ll simply see somebody you know, a friend or an acquaintance, who buckles down and, and pulls it together and changes their body and they have like that summer of smoking hotness. And then the next time I’ve gone back, I there more acquaintances, I can think of a couple of people not they’re not close friends. But there’s somebody that I know from, oh, my gosh, he went all in. And he’s got he’s gotten it. But it never, it’s always sort of first season. And then I also think there’s this thing of when you tell the world to regard you for the way you look. They don’t stop. In other words, when it starts to go, they’re still thinking about I don’t know, I think when you tell the world, this is how I want to be judged. They’re gonna just keep doing that. And then it’s gonna get harder as you get older.
K Anderson 28:59
But is it like? Okay, so there’s kind of there’s the two scenarios, right? There’s people who have always been hard and don’t know what it’s like not your John
Dennis Hensley 29:08
Stamos says, who had maybe one pimple. You know, John Stamos?
K Anderson 29:13
I do but like that’s a that’s a weird reference to well, he’s
Dennis Hensley 29:16
somebody that I always think of as like, he’s never had an awkward age. He’s always been cute
K Anderson 29:22
anyway. Okay, like, okay, let’s not erase this and and then you’ve got the other people who like maybe understand what it’s like to be disregarded and overlooked because of your physical appearance. Right, then have this moment that you’re talking about Ray. Aha, and maybe it’s the other day. Yeah, and then they just go Oh, actually, this isn’t what I thought it was gonna be. Yeah, so I’m just gonna get fat again. I mean, that means directly but or maybe
Dennis Hensley 29:48
it’s this is not worth. This isn’t as fun as I thought it would be or whatever, or it’s not worth all that it takes planning the work and all that stuff.
K Anderson 29:56
Or maybe it’s like worse because maybe it’s like people are treating you in a very Different way that makes you feel icky.
Dennis Hensley 30:03
I think it can be a little overwhelming. Maybe I don’t know. It’s interesting. Like, I do follow some people on social media who are, quote unquote, hot. And there’s lots of like, underwear pictures, and it’s fun. It’s like, they’re sexy and eye candy, and I love it. And then, you know, lots of different pictures for a long time and inspirational quotes and gym day, don’t forget leg day and all of this stuff. And then there’ll be this quote of like, it’s so dark. I’m going to take a break from social media. I’ve got like, they’ve a sadness that is so dark and count out of nowhere. And I think you know, that is just like, oh, wow, maybe? Maybe I’m okay with my love handles, if this.
K Anderson 30:51
But like, is their darkness greater than everyone else’s darkness? Or is it just more apparent, because you’ve assumed that there is no darkness?
Dennis Hensley 30:58
A few of the things that I’ve read, were dark, like, maybe were darker than I think, you know, me and my friends, if we got together and really poured our hearts out. I don’t know if we’d get that dark. I don’t know. There’s some. Maybe it’s it’s just human. And it’s just part of part of normal thing. No, but I have seen that phenomenon. A fair amount where somebody who on the outside really seems to have hot boy life. And then something crashes? I don’t know.
K Anderson 31:30
Yeah. I mean, there’s also like, what can you believe on social media? Because if they’re curating this life of like, the perfect life, yeah, maybe they want like the perfect breakdown as well. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So maybe they’re exaggerating, like, everything’s terrible.
Dennis Hensley 31:48
Everything’s dramatic. I don’t know. It could be. And they are always like, that’s it. I’m done with social media. I’m going to take a break for a while. And then two days later, they’re like, I’m, here I am at the airport, like this movie. I really cut down on my scrolling. I, in terms of just like, wasted pass the time I try not to. It’s too much of kind of like an emotional slot machine. But um, yeah, but yeah, it is. It is a thing. It is a thing that we didn’t have 15 years ago. And I don’t know if we’re meant to know that much stuff about people.
K Anderson 32:25
What do you see? I don’t enjoy social media terribly. Yeah. I mean, I, you know, it’s all about who you follow, isn’t it? Like, sometimes, if you’re following the right people, when it’s a blast, I tend to follow a lot of people that do lots of like, vague statements about things. And then you’re just like, Oh, God, I don’t care. Like, Oh, shut up. But I think it’s, yeah, I think it’s just really difficult. Because in order to get your point across, you have to remove all nuance. And you have to, like, you know, either be like, 100% in this direction, or 100% in this direction. And so we’re just kind of losing the shapes of people’s personalities. And so they have to just be like, all of one thing, or nothing of one thing. And it just, yeah, becomes a bit boring.
Dennis Hensley 33:16
It is I think, maybe it’ll crest and then people move away from it. i It’s a performance and I don’t feel like performing. You know, that much. And I guess other people really like it, they really feel like they’re into it. I have friends like that, that like there. They live out loud on social media. I’m not my thing. But I’m also interesting
K Anderson 33:38
when people are lying. Because the in the other thing for me is I don’t think that my opinions are that important, or, or interesting or like particularly different to other people. But it’s, it’s really interesting to watch other people say things that aren’t new or interesting or particularly insightful, but say it as though it was. Yeah. And then like that, that whole mindset, I think is really interesting as well, like,
Dennis Hensley 34:07
well, and also like, I go on Twitter a bit, but I don’t post much on Twitter, except for when I’m plugging a podcast or something. But there’s a rhythm to it. But then him and a hint, hint, hint. And the hint hint ahead. Like it lands like it’s a dunk like, well, the same people that are worried about you know, this kind of recycling need to also think about men. Like it’s just a sort of like, I want to wake up in the morning and do this all day, man. That’s what I wanted. That’s how I want to spend my days. It’s a kind of dunking that. I don’t know we don’t do it when we’re face to face. You can like I don’t know, but there’s a rhythm to these, these tweets where people are dunking and weighing in and they’re very superior and they’re right and and I think In the end, I don’t think I’m going to lay on my deathbed. And be going, Gosh, I wish I tweeted more. I just don’t think that’s going to happen. Maybe it is I might say, Gosh, I wish I’d tried to write that book, or I might wish that I’d done something. But I don’t think it’s going to be Gosh, I wish I really had a different social media game. I just don’t think it matters much. You know, and when people get cancelled or bullied on Twitter, and I’m like, Well, don’t look. But I can’t imagine that it’s fun to to get that much online hate. But you can even have to look at it. Do you? Or maybe you do, or maybe you feel it in your life.
K Anderson 35:45
So I’m not at this stage. So I’m not like the right person to make this comment. But right, if you have built your life around that kind of platform, and if you are used to interacting every day, yes, certain number of people. And suddenly, the space where you do that is compromised, because you’re getting all these messages of hate and stuff, then that’s probably where the loss comes from.
Dennis Hensley 36:11
Yes, because you had something in a way it’s your community. It’s a community turn on you. I can see that. You know what, that makes a lot of sense.
K Anderson 36:19
And it’s really easy to be flippant, and be like, well just go out and make real life friends. Yeah. Log off for a couple days. Yeah, it’s not always possible for people. Yeah, I get it. Anyway. So So wait, this dancing thing, right? Yes.
Dennis Hensley 36:34
Let’s go back to it. I love it.
K Anderson 36:36
You would just say yes to everyone.
Dennis Hensley 36:38
I would I tried to I tried to not say no to anyone. Because I know what it feels like to be rejected.
K Anderson 36:43
Yeah. But if I danced with you, and I was terrible, and I clumped all over your feet, and I’d like made one of your major big toe go black, and then they’ll fall in the following week, when I’m like, Hey, do you want to dance? Would you say yes,
Dennis Hensley 37:00
I think I would. I can’t remember saying no, because it’s a three minute song. I like I don’t
K Anderson 37:07
know if you lost your nail, because it may.
Dennis Hensley 37:11
I don’t remember any dancing with anyone where it was that bad? You know? And most people that do it, or good? Or do it? Or do it know, what am I trying to say? I think if it’s something that you try, and you aren’t able to really find your way with, I don’t know, if you would just keep trying. I don’t know. I just don’t remember having that experience where I was like, Oh, I can’t stand I would I hide me, I don’t want to dance with that person. It was more of like you were dancing with the whole room. In a way, regardless of who your partner was. It was that kind of feeling. Expand on that. For me, it was light enough in there that you could see the other couples moving around the floor. And there you’re moving with them. Or if it was aligned dance, you were dancing with everybody. So there really is a collective movement. And you’re going in a direction like, it’s almost like a roller skating rink. If you’re to stepping there’s a direction that everyone’s going. So you’re moving like that, which would be different than like a regular dance club where people are just dancing, like at a circuit party or something like that. There’s a movement around the floor of the collective. And then when you’re doing line dances, everyone’s moving together. And that’s really fun to you know, it’s like, you get to feel part of something bigger than yourself, I guess. And even part of something bigger than a couple. There’s something nice about it, it feels good.
K Anderson 38:36
The other thing I was gonna ask about the country dancing, is Were there ever occasions where no one asked you to dance? And you were just stood on the side? Like, oh, I guess I have to watch
Dennis Hensley 38:48
maybe maybe a little bit. I think there are times when I’ve gone there and felt lonely or felt like I wasn’t connecting with anybody or, or maybe there was somebody that that I was interested in there. But mostly there are times when I felt lonely there for sure. But But I felt lonely in my life there. And was there and kind of looking around and I think I think so but it didn’t foster that feeling. But I think there are times when maybe you look around and you see a couple together and you’re like, oh, they look so happy. I’m so jealous or whatever I can remember feeling that way there for sure. At times, like anywhere.
K Anderson 39:26
Isn’t it funny when like sometimes when you’re feeling a bit like down on yourself or low or isolated or whatever, and then you go out and that snaps you out of that mood. But then sometimes when you do that and you go out it just further highlights how lonely you feel. Yeah, for sure. Like what’s the ingredient? What’s the thing that triggers one result over the other?
Dennis Hensley 39:50
I don’t know. But I I know that I’ve experienced both for sure.
K Anderson 39:53
As long as no one comes up to you and says cheer up. It might never happen. Never does things Yeah, I can jump in a river as far as I’m concerned. No, it’s
Dennis Hensley 40:02
true. It’s true.
K Anderson 40:05
Did How did you find out that it had closed down?
Dennis Hensley 40:12
I think I saw something on social media. And it was during, I think it was near the end of 2020 2021. And there was a post. And it was just so sad that at this point, we’d all been locked down for almost a year and things were closing and, but in and there had been other announcements up until then of this restaurant or that thing or whatever. But this one was a huge blow. Because it was such an institution. It was such a safe haven. Not just not just from the heterosexual world or that kind of thing. But it was a safe haven where you felt safe within the gay world. Like you didn’t have to be a certain kind of LGBTQ. You just had to be nice and fun. Like that’s all it I think if you had a lot of attitude, it wasn’t your place. But that’s pretty much you had a five bucks on that. And and a an open you had to be sort of open hearted I in a way that’s all you needed. You didn’t need fancy outfits. You could bring weird flags from home and throw them around and I’ll disco night they would bring tambourines. I was like oh guy brought a tambourine like it had that kind of a feeling to it. It was very loving place for sure. Was magic.
K Anderson 41:23
And to do you remember what how you reacted?
Dennis Hensley 41:27
I just thought it was really sad like a loss like and it made me wish that I had gone more in the last few years when I was still open. Cuz they they were doing a lot of stuff karaoke night. And but like I said, a lot of my my friends that I used to go with are in couples now or they’ve moved away and you know, you’re you’re, you’re single carousing friends, they don’t always last. That dynamic doesn’t always last. And also I saw that the the owner or the manager, whoever posted I just remember him saying don’t don’t write sad things on social media don’t post negative things or whatever. But but but if you want to post positive things, go for it. But it won’t help to post you know, like kind of saying this is already sad. Don’t make it sadder.
K Anderson 42:15
And what do you think LA has lost?
Dennis Hensley 42:18
That that go to place where you can feel safe, and cool and hot and young and you didn’t feel judged at all? By the outside community or the gay community. It was always somewhere where everyone felt welcome. And that’s, that’s in a city like LA that is always has the image of being about appearance in youth and beauty and plastic surgery and West Hollywood and all of that stuff. This was none of that it was the opposite of that. Stereotype for sure for left for LA.
K Anderson 42:56
Do you have any memories of oil can Harry’s or clubbing from your own cuisine that you want to share? Well, if you do, please get in touch. I want to create the biggest online record of people’s memories and stories of queer clubbing, go to LA spaces podcast.com and find the section share a lost space and tell me all about what it is you got up to. You can also find me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as lost spaces pod. Find out more about Dennis and his podcast at WWW dot Dennis anyone.net Or follow him on Twitter. His profile there is Hensley Dennis. Last basis is not only about Gaza, but a concept record as well. I have 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 here. You can hear the first single which is called well groomed boys and is playing underneath my talking right now on all streaming platforms. If you enjoyed today’s episode I would really appreciate if you subscribed, left a review on your podcast platform of choice or just told people who you think might be interested in giving it a little listen to I am K Anderson and you have been listening to lost spaces