Sly Bar in the Marais
Post by Frank Cierpial
In the year 2007, two men were at the right place at the right time. It happened at a bar in “Le Marais”, which is the notorious gay district of Paris. I don’t know what sparked it. But on that night, on a tiny dot on the globe, two men fell in love. I had the great pleasure of meeting these two men a little under a year ago at a bar called “Sly Bar”. It is their bar. Their names are Sylvain and Messias and they have been together for six years.
After years of experience in the business world, they decided to make a big commitment together; they decided to open a gay bar. But, this bar is different than other gay bars that I have been to in Paris, Rome, Florence, Montreal, and New York. The difference is impossible to explain, you have to see it and feel it. The gay community, due to years of oppression is plagued with superficiality, which till this day, plagues its members. Gay bars have been a place to hire hot waiters who want to feel superior to the normal gay, and it becomes more like a fashion show than a bar. Not here, SLY Bar is heaven. It is a place where you can have fun, let go, forget your troubles and enjoy the world.
The bar is a two minute walk from the heart of Paris, or metro stop Chatelet-Les Halles. The terrace is always overflowing with all different types of people, straight people, business people, gay people (like myself), and groups of friends reconnecting after a long day of work. They make the best and prettiest drinks for the best prices, but they offer something else that I cannot explain in words. So, I will have to tell you a little story to share this magic :
A little under a year ago, I walked into this bar. I know Le Marais and its gay bars very well having integrated into the gay French community 6 years ago. I know what it is to be an American expatriate in Paris and I know what it is to be gay living in a straight world, put them together and you can get a lot of lonely nights. So, on one of those lonely nights I walked into the bar and struck up a conversation with Sylvain. He had a smile on his beautiful face and talked to me almost the whole night. He introduced me to his equally as beautiful boyfriend Messias and I loved them both immediately.
Recently, back in Paris for the Summer, I returned on another lonely night. All I wanted was someone to know me, talk to me and make me feel included. I got my tequila sunrise (my favorite drink), and walked up to Sylvain with that same smile that he had on one whole year ago. To my joy and surprise, he remembered me. He has no idea, but he made me feel so much better that night. That night, I had the best night of my Parisian life (so far). I met new friends and reconnected with these two wonderful men.
Usually, people who own cafés and bars sit in the back and keep tabs of what is going on, not these guys. You can see them lively on the terrace, smoking and talking to people. Every time I go in now, I get four kisses, one from each of them on my cheeks. Every time I go, it is a pleasure, they speak to me in French, and they make me feel at home, I feel like I’m in my own episode of “Cheers”. They are wonderful role models for the gay community. They inspire me. Maybe a part of me is hoping that one night in that bar in the marais, just like something sparked in them, history will repeat itself and something will spark for me and somebody else looking for me.
Sly is more than just a bar to me. It is a place that I can feel at home. It is a place that I always feel welcomed, and it reassures me that love does exist, and that commitment does exist. I am thankful for SLY bar and I urge you all to pay these men a visit even for just a glass of wine. Sometimes you just want to go where everybody knows your name.
Post by Frank Cierpial