Saturday, May 3, 2008

Good Times and Gays at the Harbor House

Originally published in D-Tales here; edited for content.

Last Friday the Detroit Guerrilla Queer Bar took over the new Harbor House downtown for their annual Guerrilla Idol karaoke event.

The gays came out en masse (once again, not a lot of lesbians, which is always disappointing and kind of defies explanation) to sing their favorite diva ballads, there were definitely a couple of Kylie duets betwixt myself and "Eddie Edwards," Guerrilla organizer, and there was even some hustling (of the dance variety) happening on the not-very-line-dancing-conducive small stage area/dance floor.

The drinks were cheap and strong, the bartenders friendly, the karaoke entertainingly awful.

The Harbor House is a great place to go for karaoke on a Friday night. There are precious few places left in the city that offer karaoke, and of those that do one must ask oneself if it's really the kind of place one would want to go to. LJ's in Corktown is too small and they don't accept credit cards (and I believe karaoke is only a Thursday thing there); since the Comet Bar changed ownership it is catering a bit more to know...40+ -year-old women with bleached blonde hair and feathered bangs with their biker beaus...that kind of downriver folk...probably not very gay-friendly like it used to be when Tammy Fay drag queens would show up...then there's Vivio's, which is perfectly fine but so been there, done that...

Well, now there's Harbor House. The new Harbor House location at 440 Clinton St. (on the outskirts of Greektown) is a great place to grab a bite to eat or sit at the long, spacious bar and have a few beers. It looks every inch the deep-fried fish place that it is, with a solid oak bar, booths, and chairs, and stained glass faux-Tiffany light fixtures. Kind of...well, not really "rustic," but quaint, and very Boston fishhousey.

The place is filled with the smells of fried fish and vinegar, which is great if you like those things but probably kind of gross if you don't. And on Friday nights, they have karaoke, so you can get your fix of sing-a-long favorites (but no Journey! For shame.) while making a drunken ass out of yourself in front of all your friends.

Obviously the night of the Detroit Guerrillas was a bit more gay-centric than the crowd would typically be. The Friday night prior while location scouting we were there and were fortunate enough to witness a very talented gentleman sing "I Believe I Can Fly" (which my one friend did a very humorous mock miming number too, not to make fun of the singer but the song, but the table of middle-aged black folk who were the man's dining companions did not seem amused by the miming renditions of this young drunk white boy...not amused at all), and then another very talented and energetic gentleman sang Mr. Lionel Richie's "All Night Long (All Night)," which got the whole bar area up on their feet clapping along. We ended up sitting with a group of single, middle-aged Canadian women and doing Sambuca shots with them all night. The women, painfully oblivious, flirted with my two gay male friends, singing duets and dancing with them. They flirted back in good humor, and I got to play the role of cousin and old college friend visiting from Chicago.

My Chicago alter-ego runs a successful PR firm, btw. She's not doing too bad for herself. I'm kinda jealous. Of my non-existant other self.

So, Harbor House is a great place to catch some karaoke any Friday night. The crowd is a good mix of people; young and old, black and white, gay and straight (well--at least when we were there). It's a very comfortable, homey kind of atmosphere and very relaxed. Grab some friends, get some fish fry, and sing along poorly to former hit songs.

As for the Guerrillas: we came, we sang, we got drunk. Good times.