Day 1: How much food can you eat?
Why the hell did I fly to Dallas? Honestly, for several months I have been confused about why I accepted this invitation, ever since Michael Doughman from the Dallas Tavern Guild contacted me out of the blue and invited me to visit his city. Is there a gay Texas though? Is there a gay Dallas?
Believe it or not, I actually had no desire to set foot back in Dallas as long as I live. My notions of Texas (and especially Dallas) were: Texans eat too much, they are loud and hate gay people, and President Kennedy’s visit didn’t turn out so well. I think he would have been very popular among Texans – I mean, hello, he essentially paved the way to strap cowboys to the top of rockets and shoot them at the moon!
So back to the point: I went on this tour because Michael said he was a fan of my work. He said to me “I follow your gay travel blog and I just love the way you write. It cracks me up.” So I went. I’m a sucker for flattery…can you blame me? I also just love Bar-B-Que. I love flattery and Bar-B-Que. That’s me summed up in one sentence.
But the timing was horrible: my assistant got to go to Madrid to represent HE Travel at the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association Annual Convention, and I got to go to Dallas for a gay press trip. Everyone knows that Spain has lots of gay life, but Michael assured me that Dallas can be flaming as well!
Michael picked up the three of us who’d arrived early and we headed to Babe’s Chicken for dinner.
The waitress asked, “What kind of meat? Chicken or Cat Fish?”
“Fried or Blackened?” She asked.
“Fried” we all replied.
The waitress returned with three platters, each containing the fried pieces of an ENTIRE chicken, and another platter with three WHOLE fish. Our group would have been fine with ONE fried chicken, but that’s not an option. This is Texas, and the assumption is big portions, and that everyone wants two or three of everything. The chicken was delicious, as was the fish.
Two people had birthdays, so the staff brought them chicken hats and told them they were expected to sing, dance, and cluck around like chickens. A woman in her fifties did it, but the thirty-year-old woman just acted bothered and upset. I guess you don’t stop being full of yourself until after middle age. Back at the hotel, I passed out in a meat coma.
Day 2: More and More Food…
I had the morning free, and spent most of it trying to sneak into other peoples’ conventions for the free coffee. To be honest, I didn’t manage even one coffee.*sigh*
In the lobby of the hotel, I met the other travel writers. Here’s a picture of us from the Dallas Opera. On the left we have Duane Wells from Los Angeles, California. Duane is the author of TheDuaneWells.com and the new series Living Wells. Also From Los Angeles we have Aaron Drake. He is a staff writer for Man About World Magazine. In the Purple we have travel nomad Andrew Collins from Portland Oregon. Andrew is a well-known gay travel expert and has been a freelance travel journalist since 1991. He frequently contributes to well-known publications such as about.com. From Buenos Aires we had Pablo De Luca and Gustavo Noguera, our Argentina gay ambassadors. They are a gay travel powerhouse team and are successful as business and life partners. Finally on the end, in from sunny Key West, Florida we had me! I am known for colorful pants and for … well I’ll let my dear readers decide.
When we were all together, we drove to the gay district, which is made up of about three blocks on Cedar Springs Road. The area is also referred to as “The Strip.” We had a welcome reception in the Rose Room, a big meeting space in huge gay bar complex. This space is regularly donated to the local community to host events. We were introduced to the gay “who’s who” of Dallas. Bigwigs from government and local papers, along with other prominent members of the Dallas gay community. They introduced each of us writers and made us feel like they were really rolling out the red carpet for us. They even wrote a little introduction that made me sound like a pretty eligible bachelor.
Our welcome dinner was held in the SER Restaurant located at the top of our hotel, the Hilton Anotole. I had a decadent dry-aged steak almost as big as my head…and I did my best to eat the whole thing. It was delicious. Even after I’d lost my sense of taste, I just kept going from the memory of deliciousness. I’ve never had the enlightening experience of meat sweats before, but Dallas is all about experiencing new things. The sensation after eating the lion’s share of a 22-ounce behemoth is really quite exhilarating…while equally frightening. Will I gain weight? Will this make me fat or muscly? Do I need to go to the hospital? My head was swimming with these questions.
After dinner we went bar-hopping back on The Strip. We rode in style in our party bus, complete with an on-board liquor bar! It was encouraging to see so many gay bars in one area. There are seven gay bars on this three-block street, and there are over 20 gay bars in Dallas proper.
My favorite bar was the gay piano bar called Alexandre’s that featured this statuesque woman with boobs the size of VW Bugs singing operatically – with a fantastic voice. My second favorite bar was just up the road, the Round-Up Saloon. This is your classic country & western bar but it’s full of gay cowboys. The funny thing about Texas is that you can’t tell who’s gay and who’s straight, because the entire state dresses like gay cowboys. They all have frilly boots, tight crotch and ass-enhancing pants, sparkle belts, fitted shirts, and total gay-boy hats. I can see why gay bars are important here when it seems like all the straight people are acting gay.
Each bar we visited wanted us to try their signature drinks. Oh man, I was not looking forward to the horror that would be my headache the next morning. Oh well, I guess that’s the cost of getting a good story.
We got back to the hotel super late. We had an early departure for the Wildcatter Ranch in the morning, and since I wasn’t looking forward to my hangover, it was immediately to bed for me.
To read Part 2 of the Dallas Saga, click here