There is not one single gay bar in Santa Cruz. I’ll repeat that fact: There is not one single gay bar in Santa Cruz.
Club Dakota went bankrupt and closed down a few years ago, and with it gay nightlife all but flickered out. All but on Thursday nights, that is, when it blows off a week’s supply of steam, pent up excitement and loving pheromones.
It’s the Rainbow Room dance party at the Madhouse, where the Seabright neighborhood ends and the shadows begin, and where the pulse is kept oh, so alive. DJ AD (former DJ at Club Dakota) bumps the best dance music in town, and Bisexual, Lesbian, Gay, Transgendered, and Straight singles converge to dance under disco lights and rainbow banners.
“One thing is for sure, everyone who comes here loves to dance,” says bartender Molly McVeigh, whose favorite night to work is (by far) Thursday. “At least half of the people who come on Thursdays are here every single week. Some of them I know drive over the hill,” she says.
The atmosphere is warm (literally), and welcoming. A place where you can find fresh 21 year olds and salty fifty-somethings sharing the same bar, and people don’t come for any other reason but to have a good time. The dance floor is hopping by 11pm, steaming by 12pm and literally dripping by 1am. Dress for the heat, and dress to get down.
Patch checked into the steam, er, Rainbow Room this week, and danced with one eye roving for the victim of this week’s singled out column. Take a look at the gold nugget we found sipping Tuaca at the bar after a long day at work.
The Single Man: Luigi Tufo, 21, is a very busy guy, who speaks French, Spanish, and sign language. He grew up in Santa Cruz and is now working as a device specialist at the Verizon Wireless on Pacific Avenue downtown. He is also taking communications classes at Cabrillo and teaches martial arts a few days a week.
Santa Cruz Patch: What brings you to the Madhouse on a Thursday night?
Luigi Tufo: Since I turned 21 in November I’ve been coming pretty regularly. I keep coming back because they have the best music, good drinks, good people and it’s a fun atmosphere. This is hands down the best place to dance in town. Most importantly it’s a place where a small section of the community can feel free to express themselves.
Patch: Do you frequent any other local clubs?
Tufo: I love the Brit (Britania Arms) in Aptos. I Loooooove the Brit. Amazing staff, and they have Karaoke on Friday Nights. I’m pretty much here every Thursday night and there every Friday night.
Patch: So you sing?
Tufo: I do. I sing one song everytime I go. Something different every time to mix it up. Am I good? No! Am I fun? Yes.
(Tufo later admits that he usually sings a Michael Bublé song.)
Patch: What do you do for fun?
Tufo: I have a good circle of friends and we take turns having dinner parties. I have a lot of friends over the hill too so I drive over there a lot to hang out, shop, it’s hard to beat cocktails on Santana Row.
Patch: What are your talents?
Tufo: ( laughing.) Well I love to cook and I spend a lot of time cooking. I like to invent new dishes, and I cook a lot of Italian food. I love being in the kitchen. It’s calming.
Patch: What are you looking for in a partner?
\Tufo: I am looking for a man who is looking for a monogamous relationship. I like the one on one. Educated. Stable Job—financial responsibility definitely plays a big role. I don’t need someone who makes tons of money, because a lot of people make tons of money and spend it irresponsibly, I just want someone who spends responsibly. It shows a level of ambition, motivation and maturity. I am also looking for someone who is lighthearted, I don’t like guys who take life too seriously.
Patch: So someone who likes to have fun and be social?
Tufo: Yes. But moderation is what it’s all about. Especially with the young gay community, you’re kind of expected to be a party boy. That’s how you mark your territory. Are you the guy who knowns everyone around. There’s also a lot of drugs and I’m not into that. I don’t like to mess with my brain or drink until I puke. I’m into what’s healthy and moderate.
Patch: What do you have to say about Love?
Tufo: (Thinking.) I lived with my ex for a year and got my heart torn up. But once you learn how to forgive them and yourself you find you’re ready to find love again.
Patch: So you are ready?
Tufo: (smliling) Yes.
The Madhouse is at 529 Seabright Ave., Santa Cruz. 831.425.2900.