A long time ago in a city far far away, young Ash found himself moving out of Illinois to Pennsylvania, specifically to south central Pennsylvania, and the Susquehanna Valley. I began my time in the keystone state living in a small studio apartment in York, PA with my Best Friend. It was 1999 and she had just entered into AmeriCorps and was missing having someone she knew and felt comfortable with, so she convinced me that I should move out to join her. Within a year we knew that as much as we loved each other, we were NOT cut out to be roommates then, much less in such a small space and I found myself moving into a one bedroom apartment of my own, my first place that was all mine. I would continue to live in York for another year and ultimately moved out of York in June or July of 2001 to a new apartment with my then fiancé in Harrisburg, PA. It was short lived before I learned of their cheating and ultimately I decided to move back to Illinois for my own good. I ended up leaving the state just a few weeks after the 9/11 attacks.
But really, that is not the point of this tale, no this is a tale of a gay nightclub that briefly operated in York, PA called The Velvet Rope. It was located on the north side of York and was a bit of a tucked away place. It opened its doors after I had located myself in York, and ultimately closed, I believe just about the same time I left the state. It would go on to become a new club called ClubXS and my my my did it ever live up to that name. ClubXS would be fraught with controversy and legal complications that would ultimately see it shut down. After being repeatedly cited, the club lost it liquor license and ultimately tried to skirt the law by giving alcohol away with a cover charge at the door for some entertainment. It was know for being the site of fights breaking out with upwards of 30 or 40 combatants all brawling in the parking lot or inside the club itself. This was not a gay bar anymore mind you, it was a straight club. But that isn’t even the most interesting turn for this establishment in my opinion.
The other day, while researching a trip for my husband and I to the Mid-Atlantic area to visit some of the states and also visit one of our friends who lives in Pennsylvania, I was looking to see what kind of gay nightlife might now exist in the area, I was saddened to find that there are no longer any LGBTQIA+ bars or clubs in York, with the nearest such venues being in Harrisburg, PA the state capital about 40 minutes drive north. I happened to look up the old Velvet Rope location and found its current operation is quite different. Yes Ladies, Gentleman, and Gentle persons, this old nightclub, one that some would have called in the past a House of Sin, or House of Vice, or House of Scandal, is now a House of Worship. I wonder if they performed exorcisms and cleansing rights before opening their doors? LOL
I find this to be an apt metaphor for America in the age of Christofacist Extremism and its efforts to control the nation at all costs.