“THIS IS A gay bar!” Adam squeals between his giggles as we all step up to the flashing rainbow entrance of Out, the “hot new bar” Leti somehow got Kale to agree to go to—along with the rest of us. Mike, Shawn, and Joel are all standing shoulder to shoulder on the sidewalk, staring at the psychedelic door like they might get lost forever inside. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen—all plasma-like technology and Technicolor swirls that flash and dance while tossing their glow into the dark. Adam, always up for anything and everything, spins around, his eyes bright with excitement. “It’s a freaking gay bar!”
“Why are you so excited?” I ask, unable to stop myself from chuckling at him. Heavy bass is pulsing inside the club, making the summer-warmed hair on the back of my neck stand up. The lights, the music, the long line of people stretched around the block—they make midnight seem like a magic hour, a time for dancing and laughing, not for warm beds and sweet dreams.
“I’ve never been to one!” Adam answers.
“Are we even allowed to go in there?” Mike finishes scanning the long line and turns a skeptical eye on Leti.
“Of course you’re allowed,” Leti answers from beside me. He shoots Mike a grin and adds, “My people don’t discriminate.”
Joel, with his Mohawk dyed a kaleidoscope of rainbow colors in the reflection of Out’s flashing door, gives us an uneasy glance over his shoulder. “Won’t they think we’re gay?”
Leti chuckles and shakes his head, the bright lights illuminating his already-bright smile. “Trust me, they’ll be able to tell you’re straight in three-point-four seconds.”
“Doesn’t mean you’re not going to get hit on though,” I tease, and Leti winks at me before walking ahead of everyone toward the door. He bypasses the impossibly long line, full of mostly guys and a few pockets of girls, to flash his trademark grin at the bouncer, and after a minute of smooth talking, he waves us all over and we cut the line to get inside.
“They didn’t even check our IDs,” I note as we enter a pitch-black corridor that’s lit only by the rainfall of spots still peppering my vision.
“You’re rock stars,” I hear Leti’s voice explain as we make our way forward, toward a thin line of light on the floor. My arms spread as I attempt to feel my surroundings, but then a heavy arm curls around my shoulders, and a familiar scent envelops me in the dark. I cling to Shawn’s T-shirt and let him guide me toward the light, the music at the end of the dark tunnel growing louder and louder with every cautious step.
The click of a door, and then I’m blinded by blues, reds, yellows, greens. Lasers and glow sticks flood the room, and there is nothing I can see but dancers—dancers on the floor, dancers in cages suspended from the ceiling, women dancing with women, women dancing with men, and everywhere, men dancing with men. Everyone is dressed in something spectacular—or barely dressed at all—and in my faux-leather leggings and Dee-designed tank top, I almost fit in.
“How are we supposed to get anywhere?” I shout over the music, and Leti’s grin turns devilish a second before he grabs my brother’s hand and yanks him into the crowd. They disappear into the glittering sea of bodies, and I’m left standing with four straight guys who are busy looking at me like I have all the answers they don’t.
Shawn’s arm dropped from my shoulder sometime before the door opened, which is why I’m free for Mike to pull to his side when he says, “I call Kit!”
We get sucked into the crowd, leaving Adam, Shawn, and Joel standing there staring at each other with lost expressions on their faces.
Mike and I don’t dance so much as maneuver. We weave with each other in and out of free spaces until I finally spot an open set of stairs leading down to a long, glitter-topped silver bar at the other side of the room. “There!” I say, pointing at the bar and getting my hand snatched out of the air. A guy with wide pupils spins me around faster than the disco balls suspended from the ceiling, making me so dizzy that I’m not sure which is still spinning—me, the room, or the floor beneath my feet. When I’m thoroughly light-headed, he hands me back off to Mike, who steadies my still-spinning body, helps me to the bar, and deposits me in a vacant standing-room-only spot in front of the bartender.
“That was scary,” he says while chuckling behind me, and I turn around and laugh along with him.
“I wonder how Leti and Kale are doing.”
Mike flags the bartender over my shoulder, and I order raspberritas for the both of us before he can object. He’s sipping on the sugar rim and making a face at me, when I see a group of hot girls pass behind him to find a free spot at the bar.
“I bet you could find a nice girlfriend here,” I shout over the music, and Mike’s warm brown eyes follow mine to the group clustered a few spots away. They’re all wearing tight dresses, lots of makeup, and pounds of sparkling glitter. They look the way most girls look when they’re trying to be pretty for themselves instead of for someone else—shiny and colorful and happy.
“Don’t girls come here so that they don’t get asked out?” Mike counters.
“Exactly! Which is why their defenses are down!” When he laughs like I’m joking, I pout. “Seriously Mike, you should ask one out.”
“You deserve someone.”
“So do you,” he counters. “But you don’t see me pushing you at anyone.”