Out & About — Angela’s Laptop Lounge

| Apr 29, 2013
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Dancers at The Laptop Lounge

Dancers at The Laptop Lounge

I’m a Philly Girl.

People think of Philadelphia in many ways. It’s the “Birthplace of America.” It has amazing cultural opportunities and a thriving local music scene. And we have Cheesesteaks.

We are the city of Rocky Balboa and yet also of The Philadelphia Story. Poe lived here, as did Ben Franklin. Naom Chomsky and the Wyeths. The Barrymores and Kevin Bacon. Bill Cosby and Larry Fine.

But we are ALSO known as a rough “Blue Collar town” that’s so rough we “threw snowballs at Santa Claus” (and that was more than forty years ago — get over it already!)

What may surprise people is that Philly has an incredible TG scene. Yes, the city of “Iggles” fans and Frank Rizzo is also very tolerant of alternate lifestyles . . . as long as you’re genuine. Philly respects people who are genuine. Fakes? You can go to NYC or Vegas where the “beautiful people” give each other air kisses. In fact, the Philly city council just passed one of the nation’s most significant LGBT Equality bills!

Philly is blessed with many TG events, groups, and parties. There is Thursday Night T-Girls in the suburbs, the massive “Raven Parties” hosted by Jennifer Bryant in New Hope, and so many others.

People who have followed my column or my blog see that I mention one party more often than any others: Angela’s Laptop Lounge.

Well, there’s a reason for that. My first “real night out” after Halloween was to a Renaissance meeting in December 2008. I found them through the Internet and somehow found the courage to go. Without makeup. And with a red wig.

I was so incredibly scared, but the ladies were welcoming. And they told me that after the meeting there was a Party called Laptop Lounge at a place called Shangri-La. Would I like to go?

And so I attended my first Laptop Lounge. And a new world opened.

Sophie feet

The only known Pic of me my first night, ShangriLa Dec 2008

Now it is four and a half years later, and I’ve been asked to write a review of the Laptop Lounge for this website. I was asked this as the editor knows I will be professional and objective. And she’s right. So I’ve decided to do this in a typically Sophie “off kilter” way.

In the interest of full disclosure, the editor in question is Angela, who runs the event.

First a little history. The following is from the Laptop Lounge website and is quoted verbatim:

Angela Gardner, a founding member of Renaissance, former executive director of Renaissance, and current editor of TGForum , decided to host a party in Philly ’cause she got tired of driving to New York for a TG-centric party experience. She is your hostess.

L2 is a great little restaurant on South Street in Philadelphia. Angela loved the space on the second floor and started having her parties there in April of 2005. Since the party was at L2 it was called TG@L2. In December of 2005 the party moved to Shangri-La in Devon and its name changed to Angela’s Laptop Lounge. While L2 has been left behind the website remains tgatl2.tv since L2 is where the first parties took place.

When the parties left L2 Angela found a place in the suburbs to hold the event. Since she had started playing music from her laptop computer (and she always loves a sexy sounding phrase) she decided to start calling the party Angela’s Laptop Lounge. The name stuck and it’s been The Laptop Lounge ever since.

I started attending when the party was at Shangri-La. That’s a small Asian fusion place in Devon, Pa. The bar was small and always crowded which wasn’t a bad thing. There was a separate dance floor in a separate room off to the back for those who wanted to dance. That room was small as well, and the music was quite loud. If the service there were better or fair (drink prices varied from person to person through the night) many people would’ve liked it to stay there. But it didn’t.

No, in October of 2009 the party moved — to Royersford, Pa. That’s twenty minutes up into the country and very close to where I grew up. An Asian place called Jannies, which has since moved to Media, Pa.

The place was bigger, but with a smaller bar and dance area . . .  and staff that was just as inattentive. It seemed like we were relegated to a sliver. And when the kitchen closed, the staff would sit in the open dining room and stare at us. The ceiling was really high and the sound just dissipated.

Going back to an area of so many negative memories for me . . . and doing so while still trying to find my feminine identity . . . wasn’t a good combination.

I hated the parties there, and I wasn’t the only one.

So the party moved back to Shangri-La in January of 2010 briefly until it found a new home in July of 2010. During this short time at Shangri-La, the staff was a little better, but not much.

That new home was Blue Pacific in the King of Prussia Mall. It was another Asian fusion place (what is it with Angela and Asian places?) This one was different. It was larger with a large well-staffed bar. A good sized dance floor and places to sit and talk where it wasn’t too loud.

The Laptop Lounge had found a home worthy of it!

And so it was for over two years. Great music, great food, great drinks at reasonable prices. It was amazing! And it was there that I continued my growth — learning from others, and some hard lessons for myself.

Andrew (the manager) was a fantastic host, and many of us patronized his restaurant even when there wasn’t an event. Andrew came to know both my drab side and my femme side, and always remembered my name — and kept them straight.

But nothing lasts forever.

Blue Pacific informed Angela that she’d need to find a new home, as they were going away. So the party moved again. It bounced around from Shangri-La to a place called the Twenty 9 before settling into its current home of Winberie’s.

I went to my first Winberie’s Laptop Lounge last Saturday. So I guess from here is where I begin my real honest and for true review. Because giving my opinion is something I’m shy about doing.

Stop laughing!

Winberie’s has been around in different incarnations for some time. Readers of my blog know that I’ve been to dinner there as Sophie several times. At first, we as a group were a bit of an “attraction” as the staff peeked around corners at us and probably were talking. That’s fine, as they always have given us top notch service. Over time, the sight of Transwomen in the restaurant was nothing to the staff — we were just customers to be given excellent service.

Some of the other customers give looks and comments occasionally, but none have been outright hostile to my knowledge.

In any case, I had dinner at the restaurant before the Laptop began. The main dining area was then cleared for dancing, and I was evicted from my seat so Angela could set up her “DJ booth:” her laptop.

Angela Gardner

DJ Liquid A*

Winberie’s is big enough but not too big. The acoustics are good enough that the music doesn’t need to be blasted, and even if it were, the bar is behind the speakers so people can mingle and hear each other speak if they wish.

The bar itself is large and nice, and the bartenders were friendly, quick and efficient. Their scotch selection is good enough.

I’m not particularly fond of dance music, but I realize I’m in the definite minority on that. Angela spins mostly dance music, but mixes in enough other stuff (particularly ’80s) to keep people like me happy as well. The dance floor is usually active, and there is an ebb and flow of people there.

As can be expected at such a long running event, there are Regulars, and it’s always good seeing them. Most of the people attending are very nice and engaging. There are people from all across our Gender Tapestry in attendance, from the occasional crossdresser to the transitioned. And there are Admirers. Most of the admirers are also regulars and are gentlemen. Occasionally a bad seed will show up, but will usually be chased away either by annoyed Tgurls or by the admirers who stick up for us.

Jen and Sophie

My dear friend Jen and some Tramp at Winberie’s Laptop

There often New Girls as well — people just finally leaving the comfort of “the closet” as I did all those years ago. They find a welcoming presence here, as most of the regulars make sure to engage them in conversation and introduce them around. New girls are usually quickly assimilated, and I’m happy to say I’ve seen some wonderful women at their debut and as they’ve grown comfortable in their skins and identities.

When entering the event, there is a $12.00 cover charge collected by Door Diva Jade, an absolutely gorgeous GG who is fun and friendly, and sassy as they come. Her welcoming smile often reassures the nervous that this IS a safe place. Others work the door occasionally, including me.

Oh, and for those of you who are worried — Winberie’s expects people presenting as women to use the Ladies room. (And make sure your feet are pointing the right way, please!)

I haven’t been to many events out of the Philly area yet, but I sincerely wish that every town would have such a wonderful event for Transpeople to attend. It would be a cliché to call it a “Cheers” sort of thing, but here everyone DOES know your name and revel in your successes and support you when you have setbacks. For those of us in the Philly area (and surrounding areas as well), it is one of the events we look forward to attending. It’s a nest from which we learn to spread our wings and learn to fly.

To learn the truth of ourselves with people who understand us.

And to Dance against the Cruel World outside.

For that time, “the wolf still awaits us, but for a short time doesn’t have us by the throat.”

It’s Home.

* Sophie called Angela “DJ Liquid A” but Angela prefers DJ Angie G for her DJ persona. 

Pix from the 4/20/13 edition of Angela’s Laptop Lounge

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Category: Product Review, Transgender Body & Soul, Transgender Fun & Entertainment

Sophie Lynne

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  1. scalesman scalesman says:


    Great article. I think it qualifes as a PSA from a PSA (public service announcement from a Penn State Alum).

    You expressed the wish that every town should have a “T” friendly place or “T” party event. I agree. I think that it is important to spread the word about “T” friendly places wherever they may exist.

    For my part I have always found Georgie’s and Paradise in Asbury Park, NJ friendly and welcoming. Amanda’s Hideaway at the PL Lounge in S. Hackensack is a great event every Saturday. Jennifer’s parties at the Raven are great and I am presuming that the Raven is welcoming to “T” folk at all other times. Triangles in Danbury, Ct. is a great place to go any night of the week but it becomes “T” central for Tiffany’s monthly parties. Of late, when I get a chance to get out I have been going to the B Lounge in Valhalla, NY. I have always been treated well.

    I encourage other readers to follow your suggestion and mention places in their towns that are safe havens where we can go safely and in peace “To learn the truth of ourselves with people who understand us.”