Toga, togae, togae!

Following up on my “Creams” posting yesterday, about names for gay bars, Betsy Herrington wrote to say that when she lived in NYC (in Chesea) in the late 90s, “there was a wonderful gay toga bar down the street called Vidi Vici Veni”. A bookish joke (playing on the slogan Veni Vidi Vici ‘I came, I saw, I conquered’ attributed to Julius Caesar, and using the slang sense ‘ejaculate’ of the English verb come) familiar to me, but not as the name of a gay bar. On a t-shirt:


I wasn’t entirely sure what sorts of entertainments VVV offered; gay toga parties are not uncommon, and gay bars sometimes host these events:

(#2) Talbott Street bar, Indianapolis IN, in 2012

(#3) Centretown Pub, Ottawa ON, in 2014

Betsy tells me that the staff all wore togas and the decor was Roman statuary, while the patrons came in street clothes. So, a “theme bar” of a sort new to me (leather bars and C&W bars are common). Betsy doesn’t know if they had toga party nights, but gay bars are given to all sorts of theme events — drag nights, of course, and underwear parties, bear nights, Disney parties, karaoke nights, hanky code parties, game nights, and much more — so why not toga nights at a toga bar?

All this made me wonder about bar-decor themes in general (not just in gay bars), beyond relatively common themes like Wild West, New Orleans, Polynesian, jungle, and pirate: circus, clown, beach, naval, football (or baseball or hockey or whatever sport), superhero, vampire, zombie, etc. Some of these would adapt easily to a gay context, and some others would be especially appropriate there: prison, garage, firehouse, military, construction work, and so on.

(As for VVV, I haven’t been able to find any record of the place — Betsy thinks it was around 24th and 7th — but maybe some reader has recollections of it, or better skills at web-searching than mine.)

Note on the title. The beginning of the declension of the Latin noun toga, in the sg., starting with the nom., then the gen. ‘of a toga’ and the dat. ‘to a toga’.

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