The Queer Cheers

Sidelines Sports Bar is 3 years old this week. It is Wilton Manors’ only gay sports bar — in fact, one of the very few gay sports bars in the world — and it’s something of a bellwether establishment. Three years ago, all the local gay culture was bound up in fast dance music (at Boom, say, or the Coli) or in leather (Ramrod, the Eagle). Four or five years before that, the plaza where Sidelines now shares space with a tea room, a gay wine bar, and a gelato stand was dominated by a large, ugly Bible store. What’s remarkable about Sidelines is that you get the sense that neither the old Bible store customers nor the denizens of the now-vanished Coliseum would feel out of place there.

The blurring of categories represented by the changing face of Wilton Drive — fundamentalist Christianity, then fundamentalist gayness, and now gay sports bars — is worth celebrating, and you might as well celebrate it at Sidelines. It’s clean, comfy, and full of gays, lesbos, straight folk, white folk, black folk, and brown folk, all of whom seemed to be friends. (Moreover, who are watching sports together! In a gay bar!) Sidelines’ manager Daniel Shannon says this universalistic dealio is pretty much the bar’s raison d’etre. “We want to be Wilton Manors’ Cheers,” says Shannon.

Shannon is also excited about Sidelines’ anniversary party — a three-day bash, leading up to a giant shindig on the 12th. There will be a massive prize giveaway (last year, some lucky punter went home with a 26’ flatscreen), and there shall be some astonishingly generous drink specials made from Sidelines’ own brand of super-premium vodka, a quintuple-distilled brew so smooth it almost tastes healthy. The vodka drinks will be selling 2-4-1 for the whole month of May. Shannon says that Sidelines’ has thus far proven more-or-less recession proof, so expect a big, diverse crowd — the kind of polyglot bunch you never really saw ‘til Sidelines came to the neighborhood, and which we can all enjoy the hell out of as long as it keeps putting on the years.

The Sidelines Anniversary celebration runs from Saturday to Tuesday at 2031 Wilton Dr. in Wilton Manors. There is no cover. For more info, visit sidelinessports.com, or call 954-563-8001.
May 9-12, 2009

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Brandon K. Thorp