Few stories are more tragic than the closing of Chester Street Bar, the acclaimed downtown Champaign LGBTQ+-friendly nightclub. Although its closure greatly impacted the local LGBTQ+ community, an even greater loss is definitely in the UIUC first-year experience. So, here’s a list of eye-opening experiences today’s freshmen will never have at C Street:
5.) Not being able to wipe the “bottom” stamp off the back of your hand:
The carder at most heterosexual campustown bars will stamp the back of your hand with an X to let your classmates the next day know that your night was either litty or characterized by drunk sobbing in the middle of the cocktagon at Lion. At C Street, the stamp you got read either “top” or “bottom.” Of course, yours was the stamp that read “bottom.” Freshmen, you’ll never know the discomfort of your classmates inferring your sexual proclivities all because you failed to wipe the glaring “bottom” off the back of your hand.
4.) Seeing just how weird people can get at Monday Goth Industrial Night:
When Monday Night Lion wasn’t doing it for you, you’d find a dramatic shift from the pastels and polos of Greek life to the fluorescents and fishnets of cybergoth at C Street’s Goth Industrial Night. Every high school class had that weird kid who wore black every day and never talked to anyone, and they all ended up finding each other. Unfortunately, you were a normie, so you felt even more out of place here than in the beer garden at Lion.
3.) Getting hit on by another man for the first time:
No one appreciates a nice male butt more than another man. At C Street, you’d find yourself getting compliments on assets you didn’t even know you had. Any farm boy entangled by his fragile masculinity would melt down at the first sign of a gay advance, but you’re confident that you like boobies. Just smile and wave, boys, smile and wave.
2.) Realizing the gays party way harder than you do:
Maybe it was those lights, that massive stage, or how absurdly sticky the floors were, but C Street had an incomparable energy. Who knew putting a bunch of kids bound by closets their whole lives in a room together would drive them to produce such an intense, sweaty, and raw experience? Today’s youth will never have to whisper “no homo” three times once they find themselves longing for the same energy they never could at Lion or KAM’s.
1.) Popping a confusing boner at Sunday Drag Night:
Sexuality is a spectrum and absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, but your manly-man pals won’t let you live this one down once they find out. Today’s freshmen will never know the feeling of leaving a C Street drag show with more questions than answers. If you’re like most men, you’ll probably just keep them to yourself until they boil over sometime in your mid-thirties.
The experiences today’s freshmen will miss out on without our beloved C Street extend far beyond this handful of specific awkward moments. Hopefully the LGBTQ+ community of Champaign will soon claim another campustown bar as their own and make Friday nights out a sweaty, kinky experience for all involved.
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