Rage has its Friday GameBoi, when the West Hollywood bar turns into what it calls an “Asian/Pop Dance Video Club,” and its Latin Saturdays. And then there’s …. uh, that collection of gay bars that nightly feature nearly identical muscled go go dancers who don’t so much dance as tug at their crotches and smile for tips while they aimlessly shuffle their feet to generic pop.
The lack of diversity in the customers and in the entertainment in West Hollywood’s Boystown is one reason hipper young guys make the trek to DTLA these days to watch the Boulet Brothers kick it at Precinct or to Akbar for Planet Queer or to the Eagle on L.A.’s eastside for a little Meatrack kink or even to Bullet Bar in North Hollywood to watch the pups chase balls on the floor and bark “arf arf” while their handlers order up another beer.
That would seem to leave some room for Harut Davtyan (ՀԱՐՈՒԹՅՈՒՆ) to make a difference. Davtyan is bringing The Palace back to Micky’s on Sunday, Dec. 10, to introduce a little Middle Eastern (he prefers to call it “Near Eastern”) culture, fun and diversity to the gay world of West Hollywood.
Davtyan, who also spends his time at UCLA pursuing a degree in linguistics (he already speaks Armenian, Spanish, English, Russian and French) is an L.A. native of Armenian descent. He launched The Palace at Micky’s a little more than year ago, then moved it to Revolver and then put it on hiatus.
When it returns on Dec. 10 on the second floor at Micky’s, the monthly event will give bar-goers a chance to experience another part of this gay world, with every aspect of The Palace reflecting some part of the culture of the Near East, a region that includes countries such Lebanon, Jordan, Iran, Iraq and Egypt.
“The go go dancer, the go go girls, the belly dancers, the hookah guy, all will be from the Near East,” Davtyan said. As will the music. If the Dec. 10 event is a success, Davtyan hopes to eventually make it a bi-weekly one, with each event playing off a particular Near Eastern event such as Persian New Year.
The Palace also will give gay Los Angeles residents from Near Eastern families an opportunity to come together where they are accepted. “The hardest thing to do is to balance your ethic and cultural identity with your sexual orientation,” said Davtyan, referring to the particular struggles of gay men born into Muslim or Mideast Christian families .
While he wants to bring diverse Near Eastern gay communities together, with The Palace Davtyan has an even bigger ambition. He wants to break down some of the boundaries of Los Angeles, whose overall population, while diverse, is very much isolated in ethnically or racially similar neighborhoods. When it comes to the gay community, the boundaries also are cultural, which explains why the bears of Silver Lake and the gay hipsters of DTLA aren’t inclined to drive west of La Brea Avenue.
“We don’t cross boundaries,” Davtyan said. “My goal is to change that. To break down the boundaries, to be able to get those east side people here.”
Davtyan said that bringing the cultures — ethnic and racial and religious and sexual — together is especially important in this time when the nation has become deeply divided, with conservative Republicans lashing out at Middle Easterners and gays. So, The Palace isn’t just a place for white gay WeHo guys who grew up in the American Midwest to come ogle sexy Persian go go dancers. It’s also intended to be a place for people from all cultures to meet and get to know one another. Share some drinks, enjoy the hookah and find out why Abdelrhman Mohamed or Mohammed Assaf are so popular and maybe argue over which one is best.
The Palace (“A Middle Eastern Affair”), begins Sunday night at Micky’s, 8857 Santa Monica Blvd., in West Hollywood..