Michael L., a journalist from Malaysia, was wearing long-sleeved plaid shirt when we visited. He was, as he whispered while we were sitting at wooden stools at the bar, “expecting all these cowboys to be here”. Alas, no, there weren’t any cowboys there at all – or maybe there were, but none of the guys there was at least wearing outfit we (stereotypically) associate with cowboys (e.g. plaid short, Stetsons, tight jeans and well-worn boots). Instead, the guys looked… regular.
This – being “regular” – may be a good descriptor of this unassuming (make that… plain) gay place in the Sin City (i.e. Las Vegas): Fun Hog Ranch.
But that the place is “regular” is what attracts people to this place. Or so we were told (e.g. by that guy who noticed me taking pics of the place, and our moving from one side of the bar to the other). Nothing is “grand” here; just the “necessities” of a low-key gay space.
The façade, to start, is completely un-pretentious. Looking more like a warehouse in the middle of a deserted car park, nothing about the exterior of the place says “fancy”. In fact, nothing about the place says “gay”, either; except for the “WELCOME LGBT” included in the signboard by the road.
When you enter the glass door, you’d immediately see the entirety of the venue. There’s a long wooden bar in the middle. To the right, trapped between the bar and the wooden wall, are stools. Close to the door (also at the right), is a dart board, located at the entry to the toilet, which is right beside this giant jukebox (that looks like a giant iPod). To the left of the bar are more stools (by the bar), and behind them, red-coated seating areas lit by pendant lamps.
Now, since this is Las Vegas, being forced to gamble is a given. And in this venue, this “forcing” is done by those slot machines embedded at the bar. Here, therefore, expect people not to be staring at their mobile phones, but at these slot machines…
WHY GO THERE
Because the place is unpretentious is one – if not the primary – reason you should consider at least dropping by. Walking along the Strip, people tend to dress up when going out. But here, off the Strip, people (and gay people at that) actually dress down. This is a plus for those who do not fancy going fancy…
The drinks are cheap, too. Pay from $7 to $10 for a drink-all-you-can of beer – at least until 2:00AM (though, then again this is Las Vegas, where a bottle of beer can cost as less as $2, so I suppose this isn’t surprising).
Also, you can actually have conversation here. This is because this isn’t a dance club, so the general vibe is more laid back – and the music playing isn’t of the thump-thumping type.
Not surprisingly, there’s a sense of community here – e.g. the bartenders know (and are on a first-name basis) some of the customers (regulars, I suppose); and they actually mingle…
WHY AVOID THE PLACE
Obviously, this place isn’t going to tickle everyone’s fancy.
The crowd, for one, isn’t always “yummy”. That is, if you’re into gay clones and Muscle Mary’s, this place isn’t going to make you happy. Yes, at times they drop by; but they aren’t the “regulars” of this place…
Related to the above, the crowd here can be “old” – i.e. in an age-ist LGBT community that celebrates the young and criticizes the over-30, most of the people you’d find here belong to the latter age group. If you like twinks, this isn’t the place for you…
If you are looking to PARTY, this isn’t for you, too. Here, there are no DJs, no laser lights, no sweaty bods on a space that can be called a dance floor…
IN THE END
“This isn’t your place,” Michael L. told me as we were leaving.
And maybe he’s right – at least in some ways.
I’d like to have the option to be able to dance when going out. That is, if the mood strikes me, I’d like to be in a place where I can lose myself in the music being played, and dance my worries away. And I can’t really do that there.
I’d also like to have the option of meeting a “wilder” crowd. That is, if the mood strikes me, too, I’d like to get lost in the crowd of sweaty gay guys letting their hair down on a weekend after a stressful week. And I’m not sure this is the right place for that either.
I’d like to… oh, never mind; there are numerous things I think I’d like to at least have the option of doing, but I won’t be able to do there.
But then again, there are times, too, when I just want to sit and – while cradling cheap(er) beer – watch the diversity of the people belonging in the rainbow community. And this place isn’t a bad place to do this.
So dare to pay a visit [besides, if you visit and you find the place not to your liking, you can just leave and head to the more “happening” gay spaces (e.g. Piranha Nightclub), which aren’t that far from this place]…
Fun Hog Ranch is located at 495 E Twain Ave, Las Vegas, Nevada.
For more information, visit www.funhogranchlv.com.