“There was already a lack of support and disloyalty present within the community which social media has only intensified.” Duval went on to describe how even during his busiest nights, there is an awkward level of self-imposed isolation present which he attributes to a lack of confidence created and enabled by the digital promotion of perfection which pushes users to stay at home unless going out in groups, “People do not need to come out to a bar to meet anyone anymore.
There is an overwhelming amount of digital options available that permit users to effortlessly meet or hook up with someone without having to leave their homes to socialize, impress, and interact.” While Duval firmly believes the social media takeover of the dating game has irrefutably dismantled the concept of gay safe havens, Kelly Martin, marketing & event coordinator of Paradise in Asbury Park, feels otherwise; “We as a community are closer now because of social media which has helped unite us as made evident when marriage equality was legalized nationally in 2015 and the outpouring of support received when the Orlando nightclub massacre took place in 2016.” The topic may be relative after all or merely dependent upon how successfully an entity monopolizes social media, as Paradise has had the opposite experience, “Facebook has helped us reach more people and introduce us to the younger generation especially those approaching 21.
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In New York and Philadelphia, bar hopping has become the norm in gay nightlife districts whereas in New Jersey, from our experience, other businesses absorb a percentage of the crowd when a gay venue closes shop.” Yet what is the perspective of the many purveyors who cater to both ends of the spectrum?
DJ Steve Sidewalk, who mixes the beats at prime New York (The Ritz, Boxers NYC) and New Jersey (Feathers, Paradise) locations pin points the hot button conversation to one word: equality.
Couple that with the fact that these apps make it easier to find someone to hook up with or date without having to travel to a strictly gay social setting.” Sidewalk does not believe nightlife is dead.
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Will Loshiavo has noticed the closing of two longtime local gay nightlife establishments including The Den Nightclub, within Rutgers University territory, and Barz, just outside of northern New Jersey in Rockland County NY.
The simultaneous rise in closures of gay safe space locations and rapid increase in gay geosocial applications including Scruff, Hornet, Jack’d, Growlr and subsequent platforms over the past nearly eight years has caused many to question whether this is a trend or par for the course.