That Thursday night (May 13) was like most others. Juan Marsiaj, a political science grad student, and Philip Marsden, a physics researcher, headed into El Rancho on College, the Latin club their queer group LGBTOUT (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgendered of the U of T) frequents monthly. They ordered drinks, had a bite to eat and shared the dance floor with a straight couple and some young women. An hour later, their waiter interrupted the festivities. "Men cannot dance together here," he told them. Shocked, Marsiaj asked the bouncer to explain. "Customers are complaining," was the apologetic reply.
"I couldn't believe it," Marsiaj says. He appealed to the manager, with little success. He and his friend soon left. "My night was ruined,' he says.
Messages left by NOW for El Rancho's manager were not returned. When NOW did get through to someone named Alexandra at the club, she declined to give her last name or job title, allow this reporter to speak to the staff involved or otherwise comment on the evening's events. "It was no big deal," is all she offered.
Marsiaj and Marsden, who say they were out for the first time together that night, deny their dancing was intimate. "If salsa can be danced provocatively," Marsden says, "then I don't know how to do it."
Brain says Alexandra told her that LGBTOUT is still welcome at El Rancho and that men can dance together and bouncers will protect them, but that the staff may react if they think the group is not "behaving appropriately."
Brain says that's not enough. "It amazes me that they're not just saying they're sorry. We just want to be treated like everyone else."