Check Yo’self at the Door: Cryptoheterosexuality and the Black Music Underground

I) Time Considered as a Helix of Semilegal Nightclubs

Any East Coast hip hop fan between the ages of 16 and 25 has spent most of his or her clubgoing life being subjected to almost clinical body checks. Oh, the ignominy of it all! There you are with your friends or your date, crammed into a dingy vestibule, slipping off hats and shoes, opening purses and pockets and allowing your private parts to be pawed by people you normally wouldn’t let bag your groceries. But before all this, before the drinking age was raised to 21, there had been a sort of initiatory stage for nightclub novices . . . a rite of passage, so to speak. No disco neophyte wants to be known as such, so, wanting to hang with and impress the older kids, 16-, 17-, and 18-year-olds behaved better. And if someone did have a bad bit of acid or one too many sloe-gin fizzes, there were enough wise old heads around to catch on before it became a problem. Unfortunately, once the Great Booze Divide prematurely enforced the gradual inclination for older kids to party apart from their teenage counterparts, the hip hop generation lost a valuable counterbalance to youthful ignorance and hormonal high spirits. This was why clubs catering to urban teens in the ’80s began habituating their clientele to a weapons search resembling nothing so much as a pat-down before entering a maximum-security prison. Continue reading “Check Yo’self at the Door: Cryptoheterosexuality and the Black Music Underground”