Tip Your Bartenders (2023)

Queer venues like Majestic Saloon and 10 Forward contribute to the local queer community in varying ways. Having weekly and monthly scheduled events offers a reliable space and community for performers and audiences alike while providing opportunities for more specific subgroups of the queer community to participate in the otherwise white, mainstream entertainment industry. Mz. October May Lay and Derek Milz 007 Wanzo are prime examples, hosting vogue nights that encourage beginners to enter various categories, including face, best-dressed, sex siren, and performance. Not only do they encourage beginners, but they also center queer BIPOC to explore the space, no questions asked. Performance becomes a complex experience in a narrow space like Majestic Saloon, situated in densely populated Northampton, Massachusetts, or a larger venue like 10 Forward, situated mysteriously in a basement in less densely populated Greenfield, Massachusetts. When hosting performers and bands that need more space in a venue, the way the audience interacts with performers changes drastically. Architecturally, 10 Forward and Majestic Saloon offer different boundaries, and thus power structures, between audience and performers. In Majestic Saloon, drag performers, karaoke singers, category walkers, etc. populate in the center, utilizing the narrow dance floor between wall seating and the bar as a runway of sorts. In this space, it’s nearly impossible to not be watching and interacting with the performance. Meanwhile, 10 Forward’s stage and dance floor situates the performance space in a specific area of the venue, isolating the bar and the booth seating available at the back wall behind the dance floor. While sound drowns the entirety of each venue, the audience’s attention and agency differ in each space.

It’s essential to consider the spatial complexities of these venues in conjunction with their goals of inviting a diverse range of queer community members to their events. For instance, how would a vogue night feel in a less concentrated space like 10 Forward? What kind of performers and audience would it attract?