THE ZAP OF THE PRETZEL BELL
My article in GUERILLA in SEPTEMBER, 1971 on the TGA zap of the Pretzel Bell
At a TGA consciousness-raising session we decided to do a zap and went to the Morrissey, on Yonge, to consider our options. We decided on the Pretzel Bell and proceeded there in Paul Macdonald's van.
The article more or less tells the story. There was one particularly homophobic male who egged people on. He followed us out the door as we were kicked out and the crowd followed him. He got a bit too far ahead of them. Paul Macdonald, less willing to retreat than the rest of us, was becoming separated too. There were these two people edging towards each other and the rest of us on either side trying to disengage. We started circling back to protect Paul. The straights thinking we were going after the other guy started yelling they'd kill us if we touched him. We finally got Paul away, jumped into the van and sped off.
Hear ye! Hear ye!
The kill-a-queer-for-Christmas season has started several months early this year.
The consciousness-raising division of Toronto Gay Action, frustrated truck drivers all, swung into high gear last Wednesday the 7'th, and raided that den of straights at Simcoe and Adelaide, The Pretzel Bell.
At precisely 9:30 pm or thereabouts, following the advice of their stealthy scouts, they swept past the bouncers, and carefully disguised in their straight mannerisms, rendezvoused near the dance floor. Discovering that the band had just finished a set, they swung around and in a daring and brilliant manouever braved two steep flights of stairs to occupy the upper reaches. Ignoring the tit room, they stormed down the hall, ripped a table for 13 from the grasp of an empty alcove and began a series of Novenas for the Health of All Queers.
But their real mission lay beneath them. At a signal from Kitchen Sink, the illustious orchestra playing the ballroom, they crept down a series of treacherous paths, and in a surprise one-stage attack, liberated the dance floor.
Several minutes passed before the new presence was noted, but the warmth and brilliance of the average TGA personality soon took hold and began to draw attention to the group. The inhabitants began to giggle in wonder and amazement at this new innovation on their time-worn ritual but overcome by the spirit of love and joy, continued in their gyrations. After the slow dance at the end of the set, TGA ventured back upstairs to wait for the next set.
A few minutes after they had settled back into their beers, Toronto Women's Caucus arrived en masse to take over a nearby portion of the room. Sensing a potential ally, TGA sent out feelers in the form of women members of the group.
After consultation, several TWC members expressed support and decided to accompany the Pretzel Bell Thirteen downstairs at the next set (for which TGA expresses its thanks.)
The set proceeded in much the same manner as the previous one until the slow dance when the floor began to thin out. At this point the mood turned ugly, and lo and behold, management sprung its counterattack. In a bold move five bouncers pounced from the rafters and began shoving and dragging people from the dance floor. TGA flung itself together at the edge of the floor and began verbalizing with management, who decorously for the next ten minutes refused to use the word "gay" or "queer" or suchlike in their attempts to justify throwing the group out.
Toronto Gay Action sincerely hopes that no patrons were offended by the queer-bash which followed, an unlikely possibility judging by the gusto with which patrons joined in. There is no recollection of having heard expressed any disapproval of events as they proceeded, from anyone except the objects of this attention.
In any case, in the next twenty or thirty minutes the now lonely thirteen hassled with the bouncers, and patrons, as they were herded toward the door, being variously shoved, knocked to the floor, kicked, punched, or dragged by the hair. Not content at having evicted these depraved affronts to their morality, the more vigorous queer-haters continued the proceedings outside, and with TGA being unwilling to disengage totally, much skirmishing occurred.
Various other places including the Nickelodeon and the Coal Bin have been zapped in the recent past with similarly abusive and hostile (if not as violent) results.
All this for committing that most unnatural of crimes: dancing together.
Toronto Gay Action is not aggressive in a hostile way, physically or verbally. All it is doing is refusing the demand of society that gays pretend not to be what they are; that gays accept being considered fair targets for all physical and psychological abuse directed against them by anyone who wishes, that gays accept their position as some sort of inferior vegetable; that gays accept the propagation of the traditional puke myths about them by society's institutions and establishments; that gays accept their situation as tenable not only for the present but also for the future, and that gays be grateful for all this, and thankful that the final solution has not yet been applied to them.