Once upon a time, an intoxicated orgy at The Country Club which you struggled to piece together the following day was the sign of a highly successful visit. Not anymore.
WWL-TV proudly announced on Tuesday that – thanks to its sleuthing! – The Country Club was ending its well-known “clothing optional” policy following allegations that a woman was drugged and sexually assaulted by men at the iconic Bywater pool. The Country Club once attracted an almost exclusively gay (and very frisky) clientele. When it reopened under new ownership following Hurricane Katrina, the crowd grew increasingly straight while the neighborhood around it gentrified. Along with more heterosexuals came more rules, more regulations, and a slow death of the “anything goes” culture that its gay clientele enjoyed.
The Country Club was unique in that it offered us a respite from crushing norms about our bodies and our sexuality – that they are things of shame, things to always be hidden. It was a place where you were free to be nude, to look, to be seen, to flirt and to play.
Once a mysterious urban hideaway full of eccentric locals and naughty hot tub rendezvous, The Country Club I fell in love with in the early 2000’s was slowly replaced by college bros, weak drinks, and security guards. The establishment’s once risque atmosphere was exchanged for surveillance cameras in the sauna.
By the end of this most recent fiasco, the State gave the Country Club little choice but to curtail its clothing optional policy for forgo its liquor license.
By forcing this establishment to choose between its license and its clothing optional policy, the tremendously false assumption that our bodies are somehow criminal has been reinforced. I would argue that a better way to address the type of assaults that Ms. Treme alleged is to encourage more establishments like the Country Club in our cities – more celebration, acceptance and admiration of our bodies and our sexuality, not less. This action by the ABO, brought on by the idiocy of a handful of drunk straight guys, is in fact a huge social and cultural step backwards for the entire city.
The Country Club exemplified the reason someone came to New Orleans instead of Cleveland. If you cant skinny dip and fondle your neighbor in the Big Easy, then, where can you?