Having a Gay Old Time
Known as Taipei’s version of “Harajuku” or “Shibuya,” Ximending district radiated a similar vibe to its Japanese counterparts. This lively neighborhood served as Taiwan’s hub for fashion, entertainment, dining, and bars, blending global influences into a dynamic blend of modernity and history.
Situated in the northeastern part of Wanhua District, Ximending witnessed the evolution of the city’s consumer culture intertwined with its modern vibrancy. The Ximending Pedestrian Area, Tianhou Temple, and Red House Theater were cherished remnants of Ximending’s history, holding a special place in the district’s story.
The area around the Red House Theater also became a hub for Taipei’s LGBTQ+ culture, symbolizing acceptance with Taiwan Pride and showcasing its inclusive spirit. With vibrant lights illuminating the night and the city’s lively energy vibrating through the streets, Ximending welcomed everyone to experience its blend of culture, history, and endless entertainment.
The trio finally arrived at this chic bar, Bittersweet, greeted by the sight of neon signs and retro decor that transported them straight back to the past. The place oozed a nostalgic charm, and the lively atmosphere immediately lifted Charlie’s spirits.
The three of them settled onto barstools, and Charlie was mesmerized by the mixologists behind the counter. Dressed in slick outfits that perfectly matched the bar’s ambiance, they skillfully crafted classic cocktails with an impressive flourish. The sound of ice clinking and shakers shaking created a rhythmic backdrop to the loud conversations around them.
Xing leaned in, and his eyes twinkled. “You are going to enjoy this, Charlie. These guys are masters at their craft. Just wait till you taste their creations.”
Charlie beamed, “I’m looking forward to it. Any recommendations?” Ming gestured to a vintage cocktail menu. “You can’t go wrong with a dirty martini or an Old Fashioned. They’re classics for a reason.”
As Charlie checked out the menu, he couldn’t help but notice the playlist playing in the background. The melodic tunes of 80s Taiwanese pop that his mom used to listen to added to the nostalgic mood.
Charlie took a moment to take it all in—the casual talks, the expertly crafted drinks, and the music that seemed to transport everyone to a different era. Soon enough, their drinks arrived, each glass a work of art adorned with garnishes and twists. Charlie raised his dirty martini in a toast. “Ganbei to new experiences and good company.”
Amid their laughter, a group of patrons started dancing to the music near the back of the bar. The energy was infectious, and before long, Xing was on his feet, urging Charlie and Ming to join him.
“Come on, guys, let’s show them our dance moves!” Xing exclaimed with excitement, already swaying to the rhythm.
Ming chuckled and stood up, extending a hand to Charlie. “Shall we?”
Charlie hesitated momentarily, his reserved nature clashing with the lively atmosphere. But then he looked at Ming, his expression filled with genuine warmth and encouragement. With a smile, he took Ming’s hand, pulling himself onto the makeshift dance floor.