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Best of Tacoma 2015: Best Overall Queer Party and Best Karaoke

The Mix

The Mix is more than a gay bar ??" it unites a region. Photo credit: Christian Carvajal

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The Mix, Tacoma's pre-eminent gay and lesbian bar, would be a likely poll winner, so I needed a picture of its exterior for this edition. I live in Tumwater, and only get up to Tacoma every few weeks. Thus, after a Saturday afternoon appointment in Lakewood, I decided to drive the last few miles north to grab my photo.

Oops! What I didn't know, being an Olympia-area breeder, is Saturday, July 11 marked the start of Pride Festival Tacoma 2015. The Mix's Pride Block Party was just getting underway, so the neighborhood was surrounded by a chain-link enclosure. I knew I was in trouble long before I reached the rainbow-flagged blockade. Dance music pummeled my car as I ascended 9th Street. The block around The Mix was mobbed with happy revelers in a panoply of costumes and party gear. Shooting a photo turned out to be an exercise in charming my way through security; but as I worked my way through the crowd, it was obvious everyone was having an amazing time. Equally apparent was the diversity of the partygoers, amassed partly in support of the Supreme Court's favorable ruling on gay marriage.

I'm old enough to remember when gay bars - yes, even in Washington - were isolated from the mainstream. Most straight folks wouldn't be caught dead in an integrated environment. We've grown up so much in the last 20 years. I've been an ally all that time, so it gave me enormous satisfaction to see my countrymen open their minds and hearts. The Mix still proudly identifies as a gay bar, but these days it'd be just as accurate to call it ... a bar. It's a great bar, actually, with 9 p.m. karaoke every night of the week, discounts for Military Appreciation Day each Wednesday (good riddance, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"), and free pool for ladies every Tuesday night. Then there's Therapy Sunday, with massive discounts on wine and Bloody Marys. In short, there's never been a better time to join The Mix's ongoing party.

THE MIX, 2 p.m.-2 a.m. daily, 636 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma, no cover, 253.383.4327

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