Bros and Hipster Homophobes: Wonderland Ballroom
by Cici Cauterucci
Ah, the dance floor make-out. Equally ubiquitous at your average gay bar as it is at 7th grade dances, the fondly dubbed “DFMO” is the last stretch of highway before the exit to Hookupville. Want a low-commitment boost to your evening? Intrigued, but not sure if the chemistry’s there? When in doubt, DFMO.
Unless, that is, you’re at Wonderland. And you’re gay.
Stocked with a mish-mash of vintage signs and cheap-ish beer in the heart of Columbia Heights, a veritable hub of the DC queer community, Wonderland Ballroom has always seemed, to me, just a step or two below DC9 in the gay-friendly straight bar hierarchy—until one recent Saturday night, when the unlikely mix of federally employed lax bros and self-aware hipsters that share Wonderland’s upstairs dance space teamed up to make two queer girls feel acutely unwelcome.
To be clear, I didn’t even attempt a true DFMO at Wonderland—maybe I’m splitting hairs here, but it was more like a flirty dance with an occasional smooch. Still, my not-quite-DFMO partner and I scored a homophobe hat trick:
- A dude in a plaid shirt yelled “LESBIANS!!!!” and danced his skinny-jeaned ass between us.
- A dude in a polo approached me at the bar and tried the most futile pickup line in the book: “Every straight guy in this room is pissed that you’re gay.”
- A dude in Buddy Holly glasses asked us (jokingly? seriously?) to stop dancing and get a room, because “it’s gross.”
As a femme-leaning tomboi who regularly passes as straight, I was shocked and appalled at the phobe-fest that dominated the same dance floor I’d patronized with ease on past visits. I can handle the occasional lesbian-gawker, but I’m sorry, Wonderland—three strikes on a single night is all but unforgivable.
I don't like to make enemies, though, so I let WTGG’s Bats and Alexander give the so-called “ballroom” a second chance in the form of its Sunday brunch, which advertises $12 bottomless mimosas. At that price, I’d expect to leave with a killer buzz and a week’s worth of vitamin C sloshing around my belly with the eggs benedict. Instead, B & A reported that the mimosas were more virginal than a babydyke with two-inch fingernails, and the service was slow to boot.
Unless you’re in the mood to kick some homophobe ass and chug what might as well be sparkling cider with your brunch, let Wonderland keep its $5 PBR-whiskey combo and do your partying at a spot that’s a shade less overrated.