From queer dance party nights in LA to grocery store runs in Florida, I’m here to tell you that both experiences are almost identical. Here’s how Publix on a Saturday evening is literally just like going out to the club.
1. There are hot people everywhere
The only difference is: When I go out for the night, I expect to be flustered. When going to other local grocery stores in other places I’ve lived (Kroger, Ralphs, Sprouts, Shnucks), the general demographic is either young and very clearly straight folks or older folks on their weekly errand run. However, I quickly learned that the Publix near my Orlando apartment has just as many attractive people as going to LA’s Gay Asstrology party. I’m not sure what I expected (retired snowbirds?), but it definitely wasn’t an hour of blushing in the baking aisle.
2. There’s not a lot of room to move
When I go to the grocery store, I expect to grab a cart and leisurely stroll around gathering the items I desire. Typically a Saturday night is a great time and place to do this because all my fellow young adults are actually at the club. However, in this Orlando Publix, I did not have strolling room! Instead of sprawling my limbs and taking up space, I had to watch my peripherals and indicate left turns to get through each aisle.
3. There’s a tempting smell of comfort food that I don’t end up buying because I’ve already spent enough money
You know when you’re in your peak buzzed zone in the middle of a dance floor and smell hot dogs, tacos, or really any fried late night food gently wafting in to entice you? I cannot tell you how many moments I’ve craved a snack from the drunk girl stand outside but then end up not buying the $5 treat because I’ve spent an outrageous amount of money on a basic vodka-cran and can’t justify getting anything else sub-par in these inflation conditions. Well, just last weekend as I was wizzing around the store collecting ingredients to make myself meals, I suddenly smelled the calming scent of a Pulblix sub and felt the drunk girl snack switch flip on. Did I need to spend $15 on a sub when I could’ve spent it on a week’s worth of sandwich products? Absolutely not, but the smell was calling my name. And so, I spent $70 on groceries and another $15 on a chicken tender sub.
4. I’m never wearing the right thing
No matter how much time I spend putting together a look for a night out (or honestly even to step outside of my apartment), I always seem to be wearing the wrong thing. It’s pretty obvious that I dress for my own comfort. However, even when I spruce up my look for a queer club night, I always arrive feeling like I have too many clothes on, like I could’ve shown up in the skimpy, sexy outfit I wanted to wear but didn’t because I assumed everyone would be wearing cutoffs and Berks. Similarly, I go to Publix wearing what I feel comfortable in only to realize that everyone around me is wearing their Saturday best, leaving me once again to feel like I should’ve just shown up in a bralette and see-through skirt.
5. I casually observe a hot person in a non-stalker way
Every time I enter into a social setting like drinks with friends or a party, I always find myself particularly drawn to one person. Queer magic and love doesn’t just happen by itself, so I’m pretty strategic in how I keep my company as to not lose an opportunity to speak with a cutie or give them the gay eyes. The crowd at Publix on a Saturday night contained a handful of attractive people I would have homed in on at a party, but here if I were to try to remain strategically in the general vicinity of their energy, it would just look like me circling the same two aisles. Even setting Covid aside for a brief fantastical moment, it’s probably best to stay within my own arms’ reach.
6. I’m by myself
I’ve spent most of my twenties living in new cities alone, attempting to make a community for myself one day at a time. Over the years, I’ve learned to become comfortable with going places alone, especially more social outings like bars and grocery stores. Sure, it’s more “socially acceptable” to go to the grocery store alone, but when faced with lots of hot people and a bangin’ playlist, the two scenarios practically feel the same: I’m alone to flirt and fend for myself.
7. I smile at people with the intention of connection
Even when I’m not trying to find someone cute to dance with, I’m typically going out to make new friends and queer community. I’m not the most outgoing, sociable person at lively events, so when I smile at you it’s almost always with the intention of either wanting to be your best friend, or get with you, or both. I find myself caught in this silent predicament most often at grocery stores and when going out. Both places feel like safe, neutral locations to smile at someone with the intention of happily ever after.
8. It’s impossible not to dance
With my dad-like taste in music, I am almost always guaranteed to have a good time dancing down the produce aisle. I unabashedly sing and dance alone in both the club and the Pub, but the difference is that I usually prefer grocery store music over any EDM club remix. Either way, the cross section of tunes played at both venues consists of Lady Gaga and Disney Channel stars (post-Disney but pre-serious solo musician phase) and I can get get down to those anywhere.
After making this comparison, I think it’s fair to say maybe I’ll meet the next love of my life at a Publix — and next time I won’t go in my tie-dye dolphin pajama top with no bra.