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Thursday, June 01, 2006

135 Pearl, Unstrung

135 Pearl is closing this weekend. I wrote an obituary for the queer-friendly dance club and theater in this week's Seven Days.

I'm definitely going to miss the place. True, I haven't been very often in the past few years. I don't go out much. I can't remember the last time I went clubbing. Frankly, the bar scene isn't something I ever particularly enjoyed, even before I met Ann-Elise eight or so years ago.

But I have a fondness for Pearl's. It feels familiar. Safe. Non-threatening. I always feel at home there in a way I don't anywhere else in town.

In my article, I included a bunch of stories from people I talked with at the bar last Saturday. I didn't have room to include my own. My favorite Pearl's memory is of the time I went there after I got in a bar fight at Metronome in 1998. I think it was March, a month or so before Ann-Elise and I started dating.

I was dancing with some friends at Metronome, and this big guy started to dance with his back to us. I think he was drunk, and didn't realize we were there. He started to push us off the stage where we were all dancing. I ended up pushing him, which he didn't like. It was probably a dumb thing to do, seeing as how I was a tiny 22-year-old punk, and he was a pretty big dude.

Anyway, he put me in a headlock, dumped a beer over my head, and called me a "fucking dyke." Not sure how he knew. I guess my short, spiky hair gave it away. I threw a drink at him. Some people pulled us apart and said, "don't touch her, it's a hate crime!"

It ended when the woman whose drink I threw tugged on my sleeve and told me I owed her five dollars. It shook me out of my ridiculous bravado. I paid her and quietly slipped away.

Where did I go? Pearl's, of course. I ran into some friends there and told them my story. One woman ran her fingers through my hair and told me approvingly that the beer made it thicker. That made me feel better.

I know there are lots of good Pearl's stories out there. I hope folks will share some in the comments section of this post. Please spread the word, and we'll see if we can't create a little blog memorial to "the bar." It certainly had its charms.

June 1, 2006 at 02:17 PM in House Rules | Permalink


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Tracked on Jun 2, 2006 7:32:02 AM


What kind of drink was it?

Great article in this week's 7D, BTW.

Posted by: Slice | Jun 2, 2006 12:40:55 PM

re: the drink — It was something fruity, I think.

Glad you liked the story.

Hey, I know more people have stories to share. Here's another one from me to inspire you further.

The first time I went into Pearl's was in Aug. 1997, a week or so after I arrived in town. I had locked myself out of my office, and thought, 'where can I find someone who might be able to break me in?' I went to Pearl's, thinking I could find some big butch woman to pick the lock.

I did find a woman to help me. I think she was even wearing a tool belt. My memories have grown hazy with age. Sadly, she couldn't get me in. I had to wait for my coworkers to return.

Not as dramatic as the bar fight, I know.

Posted by: cresmer | Jun 2, 2006 1:29:25 PM

I was really hoping to see other people’s stories on here. Frankly, I am surprised there are none yet.

I have a very non-exciting story.

I went to Pearl's once with my husband when we were still dating. I lived a few doors down and he was walking me home from downtown (the chivalrous gentleman that he is). We heard the music and thought it would be cool to check out. It was pretty cool, man in dog collar with no shirt on notwithstanding. They had much better dance music than the club we had been at.

Obviously, Pearl’s was not important to me in the way it was to the GLBT community, but it was definitely unlike anything else in Burlington.

My brother used to go there a lot when he lived here. He met a couple of his boyfriends there, too. I know he would be sad to see it go. He practically lived in that place.

Posted by: Charity | Jun 2, 2006 3:35:03 PM

I recall one of the first times I was at Pearl's when some guy walking by opened the door stuck his head in and screamed "f*cking fags!) and ran away. The bartender, Bob Bolyard, flew over the bar ran down the stairs and chased the guy up Elmwood Ave. He didn't catch him but I think it showed the guy the homos wouldn't be cowed. The funny part of the story was that there was a guy sitting at the end of bar who turned and yelled "It's okay, honey, sticking your head in is just the first step".

Another story: A friend told me about her brother and his friend (both now dead, sadly) who, once they turned 18, drove the 90 minutes each way to Pearl's on the weekends. Apparently, their mothers found out about their sexual inclination and just wouldn't have it. One Saturday night they jumped in the car, drove to Burlington and dragged their boys out of Pearl's and took them home.

Posted by: outlate | Jun 3, 2006 9:49:36 PM

I wrote a bit of a eulogy Sunday afternoon...


(It's long so I won't paste text)

Posted by: Kelly G. | Jun 5, 2006 9:41:12 AM

The place was a dump toward the end. It was only good when it was an actually a gay bar, pre 1995 (Maybe even 1993)

I had many good times there, but few after Robert Toms bought it. He was a poor businessman with a captive audience, who still couldn't make it work.

Onwards and upwards. Hopefully the next bar / club will cater to the gay community and leave the "we welcome EVERYONE la-di-dah crap" to Nectars.

Posted by: Native Vermonter | Jun 15, 2006 10:13:29 AM

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