Knoxville was ranked the eighth Gayest City in the United States in a 2012 article in The Advocate. It came as a surprise to many in East Tennessee, but not me. This column has covered every one of the gay bars we are aware of in this city. All told so far, I have covered The Edge, eXile, Carousel II, Hott Rods and arguably a few more.
I lived in Columbus, Ohio, for eight years before to moving to the South. At one time Columbus was being compared to San Francisco because of its large gay population. Even with nearly 1 million people in the city, Columbus still had less gay bars than Knoxville currently does. So yeah, I am in no way surprised about we are the eighth gayest city. I am glad it is. Gay people are awesome.
On this specific evening I was out to visit Club XYZ. This wasn’t the first time I had been to XYZ. The first time was in the early days of Relix Variety Theatre when they did not yet serve liquor. Comics would go over to XYZ before the open-mic for a quick shot or two before getting on stage.
Upon arriving on this specific evening, I opened the large metal gated door and walked in to a room full of smiling and dancing. I was appalled (cue sarcasm). Men holding hands, smiling, dancing and singing? Why, this may be the gayest thing ever. (Author’s note: Implied is the 1920s meaning to the word gay.)
Everyone was having a blast. The drag show was yet to start and the crowd was quickly growing making the walkway more narrow by the minute. While the bar allows smoking inside, several smoke-removal machines were strategically positioned and it kept my eyes from burning as they do just about each time I visit a bar outside of the city limits. You know, the “let’s smoke while carrying around an oxygen tank” bars.
The show began and I remembered a unique thing from previous drag shows. The performers get tipped like strippers do. OK, well, not really exactly like strippers do. In fact, queens are typically tipped in a much more classy, respectable manner. Each one comes out and dances and lip syncs to a song while the crowd goes crazy. Having now seen a fair share of drag shows I was rather impressed by the level of excitement that this one had built despite the smaller size of the bar (the last one I had seen was at The Edge).
I didn’t get a chance to talk to any of the staff or owners because the place was so busy I didn’t want to trouble them to ask. However, I can say that the way the bar looked in 2010 when I was a comic dropping by for a quick shot, now is much nicer. The interior seemed renovated and the sound system also seemed improved. Club XYZ earn its place when someone mentions a great gay bar to visit in Knoxville. Check it out if you are looking to go out for a night.
Address: 1215 N Central St.
Knoxville, TN 37917
On the web: http://www.clubxyz-knoxville.com/
Indoor Smoking: Yes
21 and Up
© 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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