Central PA's LGBT News Source
“Each month looks different, because the places we take over appeal to different members of our community,” says Ralph Serpe, a regular at events hosted by the hugely successful "pop-up bar in York.
Guerrilla Gay Bar (GGB) York is a monthly "pop-up" LGBTQ gathering in downtown York City. The scene first began in 2011 and ran for about one year. Last October the energetic venue was reprised and no one has looked back since.
“While we have a strong core group, we find that different people show up because they are curious about the venue we're taking over,” Serpe says. About 100 people showed up for the event on Jan. 13 at Holy Hound in downtown York.
About 40% of followers are from Adams and Lancaster countries as well as the Harrisburg area. Some are from northern Baltimore County. Half are woman. Half are men. Many are people of color. Patrons are of all ages and sexual orientations.
Serpe explains that GGB York began in 2011 because “we wanted to bring LGBTQ people to York's downtown.” New bars and restaurants were opening and “we wanted to experience those bars from a collective gay perspective.”
According to Serpe York's "First Fridays" was growing but the LGBTQ community was invisible. GGB York's initial run drew about 350 to sign up on the venue’s Facebook page. At its peak, the event had about 100+ people ‘take over',” Serpe says.
GGB York was resurrected last October. “Within a few weeks we ‘took over’ our first bar,” Serpe says. Each month attendance grows.
“We now have over 600 people following the Facebook page, 20+ people sharing and inviting their friends each month. We can easily expect 100-200 people attending each month. York is very busy on First Fridays now so we're taking over Second Saturdays at 9 p.m. sharp.
Why a "Pop-up?
The idea behind bringing a "pop-up" LGBTQ bar gathering to York began when the gay bars in the county began to close.
Any particularly bad experiences? “None.” Serpe says. “We've been choosing restaurant/bars so people in recovery, those under 21, or people who don't "do bars" can come early have dinner and feel welcome. So it's great to watch people, reconnect with old friends or put yourself out there and meet new people.
“The look on the faces of the wait staff when they realize they are being inundated with a happy, crowd that will hang around until closing.”
Serve says local bars are now asking GGB York “to take them over.”
Serpe also notices that people who attended don’t stand in a crowd with a cell phone up to their face. “You hear loud shrieks of laughter. Folks running into long-time friends. It’s quite a scene,” he says.
He also explains “for the record, I pay for my own beverages. The bars have no idea I am selecting the venue each month. GGB York is about bringing every facet of this community together in a fun and interesting place and making it our own.”