Ventura Breeze

Holiday Glee
celebrated at Paddy’s

By Tim Pompey

The TV series Glee has created a nationwide phenomenon. Avid fans who follow the show are nicknamed “gleeks.” Glee songs are posted online every week. And the Glee cast was even featured in a recent issue of “Rolling Stone.”

Like the show American Idol, Glee features young singers trying to escape obscurity. In Glee’s case, that obscurity is their existence at William McKinley High School, where athletes and cheerleaders are in and Glee singers are not. Cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester runs her glamorous “Cheerios” like a squad of storm troopers. Glee club director Will Schuester has to duck and run amidst their numerous assaults. Still, week after week, he rallies the troops, and week after week, the kids deliver their songs.

At the center of all this hubbub is chorister Chris Colfer, whose gayness has been both an emerging discovery and a musical highlight. His melodic voice, sharp wit, and vulnerability provide the show’s heart and soul.

Perhaps this explains why Glee has become a Tuesday night staple at Paddy’s in downtown Ventura. Known locally as the spot where the LGBT community can gather, Paddy’s features a long bar, pool tables, a big screen TV, and a relaxed atmosphere. Like the old Cheers on TV, it’s a place where good friends can hang out. “Everyone is welcome,” says bartender Dennis Romero. “When the gay community gathers here, all the bias is left out.” Romero likes to think of Paddy’s as “just another bar” where people can feel at home.

DJ Michael Kohli describes his Tuesday Glee gatherings as a “fun experiment.” Kohli started it as a one night event last September to watch the opening show, then gather on the big dance floor adjacent to the bar for some after-Glee entertainment. But what was originally intended as a sole night of entertainment has stretched on for twelve weeks and drawn huge crowds for guest appearances by Britney Spears, Carol Burnett, and John Stamos.
Dj Michael KohliDJ Michael Kohli is the music host (and Breeze writer) for the Tuesday night gathering of Glee watchers at Paddy’s in downtown Ventura.

Bar patrons Koa and Steve are big fans of the show. “I like the renditions of the songs they cover,” says Steve. Indeed, Glee is known for its outrageous musical numbers and big-time dance moves. Koa appreciates “all the pizzazz when they sing.”

Tonight is the end of the fall season and features the episode titled “A Very Glee Christmas.” Arch-nemesis Sue Sylvester, a snarling school Grinch, steals all the presents purchased by Glee clubbers and fellow teachers and defiantly stacks them in her office. As usual, the Glee chorus tries to sing those presents back under their tree.

And therein is the appeal of the show. There’s always hope when different people with common struggles use music to change the way folks relate to each other. As the episode ends, even Sue has to admit. There’s something about a Christmas song that melts even the stoniest heart and brings people together.

It seems simple enough. Where there’s a bar and a TV, friends will gather. Or sing. Or sing along, because where there are friends, there’s also music, and music creates friendships. And where there is music and friendship, Glee seems to thrive. As the show proves tonight, whether gay or straight, everyone loves a good song.
Paddy's Ventura

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