East Atlanta gay dive bar Mary's hosts a dance party on Saturday nights, an event that isn't nearly as celebrated as the karaoke sessions that used to occupy that time slot. (Mary-oke is now only on Tuesdays.) But as its name "Hot Mess" indicates, anything is game; music selections aren't restricted to any particular decade or genre, and unlike its Wednesday night party the Honey Pot — "sweet indie pop for burly men" — people of all sexes and builds are invited to get loose.
Last Saturday however, regardless of what was on the agenda, Mary's was far more laid-back — like, well, a dive, but with a slowly rotating disco ball hung near the entrance. Bigger groups of friends settled into the patio, overlooking the scenic view of the parking lot. Inside, couples transitioned from sitting at the bar to standing near the bar, arms casually wrapped around waists while carrying on conversation. Later, they'd nestle back against the wall, in one of its four shallow hang-out coves.
The most dressed-up patron among the sea of plaid and hoodies was a Brad Goreski lookalike who wore dark-rimmed glasses and slim-cut navy trousers tucked into black lace-up boots. To Tiffany, who was visiting from Seattle and standing with me on Mary's second-floor balcony, the scene was a far cry from the gussied-up drag and debauchery she expected. "Agh, what's it called? Not mustaches, but —" she said, racking her brain for what I thought was a band name. "HIPSTERS! That's what I was trying to say — hipsters." Well, sure.
Tiffany left before DJ Sam Rothstein cued up Justin Timberlake's "My Love," inspiring one woman to shimmy with her purple scarf as if she was towel-drying her ass, after following her friends onto the floor. And she should have stuck around to see a group of four walk into the miniature dance party kicked off by M.I.A.'s boisterous "Bad Girls". While whipping his head and thrusting his arms into joint-breaking popping and poses, a male accidentally stumbled backward into a female who'd just walked in through the front door. She was already singing along to the infectious chorus — "Live fast, die young / bad girls do it well" — so instead of accepting his apology, she backed her bouncing ass into him then turned back around to reach for his.
But Hot Mess was only a hot mess in spurts, and to the rest who kept close to the bar, that was fine — just as long as anything wasn't in the way of the bathroom or the patio, like my impromptu one-man show in a black wife-beater. After the older male and those two girls walked past, he stood up straight and smiled sheepishly over his sculpted shoulder.
"Thank you," he said, as he walked away.
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