KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Menz and Mollyz was by no means a perfect space. It was inaccessible in a multitude of ways, which was devastating for a lot of queer, trans and other marginalized and racialized folks. This is not to denounce the space, but mourning this space also means bringing the truth to light. And the truth was…this bar had its issues.
For myself, a young queer African Nova Scotian woman, I had been a patron at Menz for a long time. Too long even. I had been on the stage in many forms. Been brave enough to explore myself and discover new talents. I was able to be super gay, which wasn’t always something that felt like a smart (or safe) idea. I could dance and drink and fight and laugh and I could be whoever and leave whatever shit at the door.
I can definitely say I am saddened by the lack of goodbye. Goodbyes are hard for me regardless. But the haunting of not saying a proper one feels extra hard this time around.
My heavy heart mourns the memories of Menz. After quarantine I dreamt of late night dancing and drag that I would be beside myself to see. Now I don’t know what I’m dreaming of.
But when there is a lack of something that means your dreams can have no boundaries. So what queer space can we dream into existence now? Without holding back, how big do we dare to dream and how can we get there? I have no answers to these questions. But trust me, I am dreaming. I am playing loud music in my headphones. I am dancing like I am still there. I am watching documentaries of Studio 54 and wondering where we will go now. I think about when I could be half a block away and see the green light glowing outside. See the flood of people pour out the door and I would be spotted instantly.Then came the kisses on the cheeks, the compliments, the hugs, the laughs, the reads. The tears I shed are purely for the growing pains that are extra painful when you didn’t see them coming.
The bar has undergone so many transformations. New decor, the stage over here and then over there. New DJ’s, new queens, new bands, new bar stars, new bar staff, new outfits (but seriously the outfits). But some of us always returned no matter how far we roamed. I can’t even remember the first time I was at Menz. But I can remember the sold out shows and empty dance floors built for twirling under the red light with a few of my favourite people.
I went back to see the bar. Take pictures of the outside for my memory bank. It was wildly emotional. How do you mourn the death of a place? Where does the grief go when the death wasn’t of a person? All questions I ask with no compass of direction. I just know I lost a place where there were few rules for me. And that definitely stings for sure.
For the next queer space we decide to hold. The next haven built for exploration of gender, redefining family and a dance cave full of firsts… let’s remember our whole community deserves access to that space. Everyone deserves a bar that feels like home (and a lot of that had to do with the carpet at Menz but still…)
It’s often discouraged to hold two truths at once. We aren’t taught how to do this I am convinced that we can hold complex feelings around this situation as a community, in community. We can mourn this space and criticize its downfalls. We can be sad and hopeful for a wilder, weirder, more inclusive future. And I can’t wait to arrive there.
Basically any and every thing has happened this year, I don’t think we should leave this seemingly big dream off of the table either. In the spirit of pitchers of long island iced tea, let’s give Menz and Mollyz the send off it deserves and move towards a bigger and more accessible, badass future.
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