Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Where the girls are

(I'll wax rhapsodic about Shakespeare and Co. later. But first, the good stuff)

Well they ain't at Le Banana Café, I can tell you that. I got to Paris armed with my Damron Women's Traveler, my Let's Go Western Europe, and a list of clubs and bars I wanted to check out. Le Banana Cafe got good reviews, so Thursday night I decided to check it out first thing.
Silly country mouse that I am, I keep forgetting that although "gay" may apply to me, what it really means is "male." Full of sparkly gay boys; at least I wore my "butch" outfit (white tank and docs) so I didn't feel like I stood out too much. Swallowed a Heineken and got out. Still, I didn't let it get me down. Wandering around le Marais (the Parisian gayborhood) at night is awesome in itself; one of those "pinch me" moments, thinking "I'm wandering le Marais by myself, just hanging out in Paris watching that dyke couple make out on the street corner. How amazingly cool is that!" Found myself in front of Les Mots à la Bouche, the GLBT bookstore. I had already spent an obscene amount of money on books that afternoon, but I didn't care. It was full of men, but they had a fairly decent lesbian section; I walked away with Dykes and Sundry Other Carbon-based Lifeforms to Watch Out For ("But Andy," you ask, "can't you get that in the States?" To which I reply, "So?"); Love My Life, a French edition of Japanese yuri manga (yuri meaning lesbian. I don't think you can even get yuri manga in the States yet); and Colette's Le pur et l'impur, just for the cover photo of the author in a tux (yum).
Friday night was reserved for Le Champmeslé. If you had told me back home that "the oldest and most famous lesbian bar in Paris" (as both Let's Go and Damron called it) would compare unfavorably to Novak's, the dyke bar I go to in St. Louis, I would have said you were crazy. I mean, Novak's is fine, but this is gay freaking Paree. They practically invented sexual liberation, right? There was nobody there. Granted, it was 9:30, but it was a Friday night! Things should at least have been getting started, but instead there were a bunch of gay boys having a birthday party in the back. And the drinks were crazy expensive.
I mean, jeez, at least Novak's has a pool table.
But third time's a charm, and Saturday I hit 3W, "Women With Women". I walk in at 9:30 again because I'm stuck using the metro, which closes midnightish. The place is packed. Every table and booth is full, and there's no space at the bar. Femmes and tombois and butches, everybody is there. And no twinks and their boyfriends, no straight people--it's the queerest lesbian space I've ever been (well, except for Pridefest). There's something incredibly thrilling about being surrounded, for once, by people just like me. It's a feeling I want to have more often. Somehow I manage to find a table in a corner by the door, the kind you have to stand up at, so I manage to flag down the (incredibly cute tattooed tomboi) bartender and get a beer, and settle in for some people watching. I figure I'll hang around for the DJing to start at 10. I engage in some low-key flirting with an older woman at the bar, just for the hell of it. And then I notice this couple at a table, an older woman and a girl my age. The girl turns around and looks right at me, and I smile shyly into my drink, dumbstruck, cause things like this don't happen to me. But then they wave me over, and maybe it's the liberating feeling of being in a dyke space, but something gives me the guts to go over and sit down at their table. The older woman is an artist ("Holy shit! My first real Parisian artist!"), her younger friend is a business student at university. The younger woman is so beautiful it's dazzling, but I don't catch her name because the place constantly blares techno music. We make polite chit chat and exchange cultural observations ("You're so skinny for an American!") and I guess it must be true that alcohol improves one's foreign language abilities, because I don't do too badly. We discuss the L Word and it's universally agreed that Shane is hawt. We dance for a bit, but then she and her friend go home, and that's that. And that's fine with me, because I'm not ready to leave. I want to soak up as much of this dyke space vibe as possible, because it's got to last me for awhile when I go back to quiet, bourgeious Verdun.
I go up to the bar to get another drink, and if at this point y'all are convinced that I'm just making all this up, I don't blame you, because even I don't believe it. Another girl comes up to me and asks me to come sit with her and her friends. She heard me say I was American and it turns out she studied in Ohio for four years. She's a translator; not dazzling like the first girl, but she's got a boyish intellectual geekiness that's more my type anyway. Her friend drives a train on the Metro; they both laugh in disbelief when I tell them that in Missouri it's not unusual to see girls wear cowboy hats and boots to the gay bars. I ask the translator to dance but she says she's too shy; asks for my number instead. I'm a dork and can't remember it so I give her my email instead. Then I walk back with them to the Metro stop, since we're all catching the last train.
She just IMed me, and she's calling me tonight, so you'll have to excuse me while I go study my pocket Larousse. If I don't keel over from disbelief first.


At 1:13 PM, Blogger FemiKnitMafia said...

WOW! I can't wait to hear the stories. You go.

At 2:49 PM, Blogger Katie (Kinney) Stegeman said...

Go Anne! Sounds like you had QUITE the night out.

At 1:10 PM, Anonymous Kevin said...

ooh-la-la! go Anne!

At 3:51 AM, Blogger nicotinefreegirl said...

Wow! Paris and all the women! And a girl is going to call!

I remembered your site - I used to read your blogs and used to comment even but then I got busy and had to shut down my other site because this guy was just pestering me (don't know what part of the word 'lesbian' he doesn't understand)...but anyway...

I'm glad things are looking well. Have you seen the new Pride and Prejudice adaptation yet? =)

At 5:36 AM, Blogger Andygrrl said...

Hey wow! Returning readers! Now I feel all special!
I haven't seen the new P&P--I didn't even know they had released it already!! Crapola!! I don't know if I can get it in subtitles here or not; I refuse to watch it in French, it's just too English (the same goes for Narnia).
Glad you got rid of your stalker dude. That's creepy. Luckily I only have to deal with spambots.


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