At the Lone Star Saloon, San Francisco’s iconic gay bear bar, “big and hairy” is the prevailing mien. But four Saturdays per year, when Studio 5’4” takes over, disco’s the thing—and short is king. Lone Star guest DJ Gabriel “Omnibot” Garcia and husband Matt “Patty Meltdown” Duke launched the so-called “solid-gold disco party for pocket gays and their admirers” in 2014, inspired by New York’s now-defunct Runt. Today, it might be the only party of its type in the world. Up to 300 people attend each event, mingling with Jell-O-shot-dispensing go-go dancers as the music moves from ’60s soul and funk to ’70s and ’80s disco, then to house, pausing only to watch the drag queens strut their stuff.
Everyone is welcome at Studio 5’4” (the name is a play on another famous and now-defunct New York nightclub, Studio 54). “You don’t have to think of this as some fetish party that you must subscribe to in order to attend,” says Daniel Filipkowski, a 6’2” regular. “It’s just a really good time with great music and an awesome crowd.” That said, about half of the partygoers are short gay men—an oft-overlooked group, both literally and figuratively, the Studio 5’4” team explains.
he team—which now also includes dancers-turned-co-producers (and fellow self-described “shorties”) John Geluso and Ross “Fur Trap” Cantor—is proud of creating a space that celebrates pocket folk, much like Lone Star did for bears. “There are people who are attracted to [short people], and short people who want to find people who are their same height,” Garcia says. “I like that we actually made a place where people can congregate if that’s what they’re seeking.”
Recently, the team has expanded Studio 5’4” to bars in Seattle, L.A. and NYC, including Nowhere Bar, Runt’s former digs. Additional cities, including Denver, Phoenix and Austin, are in its sights. The next party, Saturday, June 1, is back at Lone Star. Boogie on down because you know what they say: Life is short. 1354 Harrison St., @StudioFiveFootFour
Originally published in the June issue of San Francisco