The Bar

Sometimes you don’t know who you are until it happens.

I was raised in a very conservative family. Although my dad went out to bars at times it was clear my mom didn’t consider them a great place to be. Since most of my parental influence came from my mom that was the message I got. From what I knew of bars from movies and tv they didn’t seem like the kind of place I would care to be in; loud and crowded. A big part of that perspective was because I was an introvert, or so I thought.

A few months ago, for reasons I don’t recall, I started questioning whether or not I am an introvert. Like so many things in my life, this was such a long-held belief that it seemed silly to even question it. Wasn’t that just part of who I am, but that logic doesn’t work so well when you are trans.

So I decided to slowly explore this issue. I had never studied up on the differences between introverts and extroverts. I considered myself an introvert because I didn’t like crowds and was socially very shy. I already knew I didn’t mind being in a crowded mall. In fact, I really enjoy shopping regardless of the amount of people in the store. So I had to do something more.

First Test

Something more presented itself on October 3 via the Women’s March. This was a rally for women’s reproductive rights. I knew there would be a lot of people there so it was a great opportunity to test out how intro/extro-verted I was. It was also a cause I very much supported so that gave me the courage to be there.

We started out at Washington Square Park. When I got there, there were only a few hundred people. In the past, that number of people would have seemed like a lot to me. I don’t think I thought much about it at the time. I was so enjoying being there. Between the speakers and the people, there was so much energy there; it felt wonderful.

The speeches were intense at times and I found myself crying. Sometimes they were tears of joy for triumphs over oppression, other times they were tears of sorrow over past pains. This, my sensitive tender heart, was something new since coming out that I have grown accustomed to.

After the speeches, we marched to the state capital. That was just a bit over a mile. But by then there were over a thousand people at the rally, so it took a bit to get everyone up there. I was in the middle of that thousand-plus crowd and loving it. There were chants and waving and so much energy. Not only did the crowd not bother me, it seemed to excite me.

When we got to the capital, there were more speeches and tears. When the speeches were done people seemed to be hanging around. I went into the capital to use the restroom and by the time I got back nearly everyone was gone. All I could think was where did they go, why is it over. I wanted it to last all day. I hung around the capital for a bit reminiscing over what was so powerful just a few minutes prior.

I didn’t just survive the crowd, I seemed to thrive in it. At this point, it was early afternoon. I was not tired at all. In fact, I felt I had to be out and do more. So I spent the rest of the day shopping and got home late that evening. This experience certainly seemed to indicate that I wasn’t an introvert but I wasn’t completely convinced.

About this same time period, I was struggling with dancing. I had never gone dancing as a teenager. As a young adult, I ventured onto the floor with friends a couple of times. Both times were only for a couple of minutes because they ended in disaster. I had no sense of rhythm and had no idea what to do. Now, many years later that urge to get on the dance floor had reemerged. But now I had some things going for me that I didn’t back then.

At this time in life, I had gotten past the feeling I was totally musically inept, as I had thought before. I had some private space where I could practice via YouTube all by myself. And most of all I had all of my previous trials and triumphs of learning who I am to give me courage.

Even so at that point, I had never danced anywhere other than in total privacy. I thought about going out somewhere dancing in fact that thought seemed to hunt me. But every time it would come up I would come up with an excuse, I had a long list of them. I am an early morning person and dancing is for night owls. I am an introvert, or so I always believed, and dance floors are very crowded. I don’t know how to dance, or at least I don’t know if I do.

Second Test

A few weeks after the Women’s march I decided to go to Park City with a friend to do some shopping. Shortly after we got there I realized it was Halloween, a holiday I don’t keep track of. This realization came in the form of lots of people showing up in costumes. But that was just the beginning. A bit later they closed off main street and the whole downtown area was one big Halloween party. Even more people showed up, both kids and adults dressed up.

At first, I just enjoyed admiring all of the cool costumes, but as the street got more and more crowded I found I enjoyed it even more. It seemed to be more than enjoyment. It seemed to energize me. I wandered up and down the street enjoying it all. But my stomach started telling me it was time to get something to eat. By the time I got out of the restaurant nearly everyone was gone. And once again I asked why was it over? Why couldn’t it have gone on for longer?

On my drive home all of my being kept saying that wasn’t enough I need more. I wasn’t sure what the more even was, but I somehow knew the where. For a while previously I had heard various friends mention The Sun Trapp as the best queer bar in town (please see update below). Why a bar and why that bar, I had no idea, but somehow I knew that was the answer to my soul’s cry for ‘more’.

I don’t recall if it was that night or in the next couple of days, but I determined that I would go to that bar and find out why it was the place my soul desired. Part of me so wanted to go with a friend, but I knew this was my journey and something I needed to do alone. I also wanted the freedom of leaving early if things didn’t work out.

The Answer

It was the first Friday in November now. I had read up on the Internet about what to expect at a dance club but nothing I read prepared me for my experience. I got there a little before 9 pm. There was music playing but no DJ yet and no one on the dance floor. The DJ started a few minutes later. But there was still no one on the dance floor. There was no way I was going to be the only one dancing. I wanted enough people out there that no one would notice me. So I wandered around for a while waiting for the dance floor to fill up.

Around 10 pm the floor still wasn’t as full as I would have preferred but I was tired of wandering around. I found a corner and started dancing. Very soon all of my inhibitions were swept away. And all of my questions and excuses became meaningless. The moment felt so right and so wonderful.

As the night moved on more and more people joined us. About an hour later the dance floor was packed. You could hardly move without bumping into someone. And in that I got my answer, this was the ‘more‘ my soul was crying for. I was in ecstasy. It was like a long-lost piece of my soul of my being, came back to me. It was like being on that dance floor somehow allowed me to be whole. But it wasn’t just the dancing or the crowded dance floor it was that place, the Trapp.

It was and is so much more than a bar or dance floor, it is an island of pure reality in a world where many still don’t want us to exist. The people there radiate in all of their beautiful queer glory. It was intense and freeing. It felt so comfortable. It was the place my soul longed for.

I danced all night until they closed at 1:30 am. The dancing, the crowd, the place fed my soul in a way I didn’t know I needed. It was amazing and beautiful, it was so very beyond my expectations. In that night I found a part of my soul that was still hiding in the closet. A scared little girl not sure if it was safe to come out. The little girl inside of me that wanted so very much to dance was greeted with such love and acceptance, all of the fear faded away in the glory of the moment.

Since then I have been back every weekend and I don’t see that stopping any time soon. In all of this I have learned so much. First off I am most definitely not an introvert. I can dance all night and get up early the next morning to go hiking and have plenty of energy to finish out the day. Secondly, I seem to crave being around people and building relationships, which is very new to me. Thirdly, music and dancing are so much more than I ever imagined them to be. They are a part of me. Or maybe I am part of them, as there seems to be a part of me that comes to life when I dance. It is like my spirit uniting with the spirits of millennia of music all in one continuous moment of ecstasy.

Finally there is this place. Even a few months ago had you asked me how I felt about bars I would have said they are not the place for me. That might still be true for some bars, but as I said the Trapp (please see update below) is so much more than a bar. It is home. A place where I am safe and can be myself. A place where I don’t have to worry about who is watching when I go off beat or do something silly. A place filled by my queer family, some I call friends, and some friends I have yet to meet. A place where I am loved and cared for.

Update on The Sun Trapp
Since I wrote this article The Sun Trapp has gone through some drastic changes. I would definitely not recommend it any longer, it is not what it used to be. The following is my perspective of what happened.

Full disclosure: Several of the old staff are friends of mine and I am quoted in the below article.

The SLC Tribune article below explains the details of what happened with the Trapp.  Since that article was published the defendants have gained control of the bar and brought in all new management and staff.  

Please bear in mind that the author of the article repeatedly tried to contact the defendants for their side of the story, but they refused to comment.  While that doesn’t make them guilty one must ask why they felt they couldn’t defend their position if they were innocent of all charges.

 If we were talking about a Walmart or Mc Donalds I would say who cares who is managing it.  But this is a very small local business, the people were the heart and soul of the business.  To me, and many more the building, location, and name were nothing, it was the people that brought it to life.  The Trapp was our home because the people on the other side of the bar made it that way.

Personally, I would never patronize a business that treats people the way the defendants did.  Furthermore, I have friends that have been harmed by some of the new staff (sorry I can’t give details), so I am certainly not going there. Obviously, we each have to decide what is important to us.