Sunday, 19 November 2017

Flashing lights and just a hint of sex appeal

By Sam Corbett |
PRAGUE DAILY MONITOR / PRAGUE WANDERER |
11 December 2008

This story is part of an occasional series of articles from the Prague Wanderer, a webzine created by New York University students in Prague. Learn more about the Prague Wanderer here.

From the moment I rang the bell on the all-black door of Club Termix, the experience was a bit off putting. Not a sound could be heard from the street, so when I was ushered downstairs by an unsmiling doorman dressed in black, I was bracing myself for a scene right out of the movie Hostel.

Club Termix is a relatively new fixture on the gay and lesbian scene in Prague, just a few blocks down from the flagship of Prague’s gay clubs, Club Valentino, in Vinohrady. Valentino, though also primarily subterranean, is eminently visible from the street, so the contrast here was a bit jarring.

However, entering the bar, I was instead met with a candy-colored explosion of light and people. A small car crashed through one of the walls is not exactly a common sight in a basement bar, but at Termix, that’s perhaps the least shocking aspect of the decor.

It seems that anything the proprietors of Termix could hang from the ceiling, they did. CDs and records on strings join large colored balls and even what appear to be disco balls shaped like bottles of Absolut vodka.

“My eyes!” exclaimed my roommate, NYU student Beau Benson, who accompanied me to the club. “Did someone bedazzle this entire club?”

The clientele, however, may be even more colorful than the bar itself. Termix is one of the few gay bars in Prague that openly cater to both gay men and lesbians, so the variety its customers provide is nearly unparalleled in the city.

Though men do outnumber women, the crowd is a refreshing mix of Czechs and internationals. Like many of Prague’s gay bars, there are often a few (very noticeable) rentboys, but for the most part the patrons appear to be there for slightly less commercial reasons. Valentino, by comparison, has a more prevalent prostitute crowd, who on some nights can be an almost overwhelming presence in the bar.

Termix is one of the “cooler” gay bars in town, so the people it attracts do tend towards the young, the muscular, and the scantily clad, but a healthy mix of twentysomethings all the way up to people in their late fifties can be found there on any given night.

Perhaps the night of the week with the youngest age skew is Wednesday, when the bar features Czech-language pop instead of its usual mix of American and international pop hits.

The bartenders, mostly attractive men in their twenties, are extremely friendly as they serve beer from around 30 crowns ($1.50) and cocktails starting around 90 crowns. They are, however, a bit on the brusque side, as at peak times Termix is nearly always crowded. Despite its relatively limited floor space, which includes a long, thin bar area as well as a small dance floor and a lounge area, it manages to pack in a surprising number of bodies, especially when 2:00 am or so rolls around.

For those unfamiliar with the matter-of-fact attitudes about sex Prague’s gay bars often display openly, there are certain fixtures that might give pause. A slideshow of pornographic pictures is casually projected on a screen over the doorway, and there is a men-only darkroom with small private booths for intimate moments (located, relatively discreetly, inside the men’s bathroom).

However, these relatively minor details should not scare off anyone but the faintest of heart, as the atmosphere at Termix lacks the hormonal feeling that often seems to pulsate through the air down the street at Valentino, which features a similar darkroom in addition to a full-fledged basement sex dungeon on Friday and Saturday nights. Though sex is certainly a big presence at Termix, the club is more a place to drink, dance, and mingle than a place to pick out a next hookup.

“I come here because it’s just a friendly place,” said Gary Fieldstone, a British photographer in Prague on business. “Some gay bars here can feel very predatory. Termix isn’t like that.”

With its varied offerings and welcoming environment, this bar/club/lounge has something to offer anyone, with just a little more sparkle than some might be used to.

“Oh, it’s tacky!” Fieldstone laughed, gesturing around the interior. “But why not? I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Club Termix

Open Wednesday-Sunday 20:00-5:00

Třebízského 4a, Praha 2, 120 00

+420 222 710 462

Sam Corbett is a third-year student at New York University, studying journalism and sociology. He is from Potomac, Maryland.