Marc Almond wasn’t kidding when he named Soft Cell’s debut album Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret. Soft Cell’s existence as a band wasn’t exactly non-stop, but Almond’s erotic cabaret hasn’t stopped. He has some flair for the sexy and theatrical. And likes his leather dancers. Here, he pays a not-quite-loving tribute to the now close to obsolete glamour of gay cruising. When Almond released this song in 1991, LGBT rights were much more embattled, and for many, anonymous hookups in sleazy parks and alleyways were still the norm for meetin dates. There are a few voices out there objecting to activists who present wholesome middle class couples as the face of the gay community, claiming that the seventies heyday of barely licit nightclubs and non-stop stranger sex were some kind of halcyon time of freedom. That’s an interesting point of view, but a flawed one. Post-Stonewall, society pretty much gave gay people a deal; it said to them “Ok, you can have your nightclubs and your parades, but prepare to die alone, because you can never have real domesticity – that’s a privilege for straight people.” For some, who had found the expectation of domesticity and traditional lifestyles roles stultifying and unattractive, the Studio 54 life of promiscuous partying and eternal bachelorhood was a sweet taste of freedom. Those guys are the ones who can’t understand why everyone’s so hung up on the right to marry – wasn’t escaping from society’s pressure to wed one of the perks of being gay? But for most reasonable people, even the most promiscuous ones, being told by society that they’ll never find love, settle down or have a family – because how could they? – just doesn’t cut it. Nobody wants to be denied the option of being in a wholesome picket-fence family. Even if that doesn’t happen to be the life you want to live, you still want to have a choice in it. So, although the old-timers who still pretend that public restroom blowjobs were the best thing ever rather than an inconvenient necessity don’t really have a leg to stand on in terms of influencing public debate, there’s definitely some mixed feelings within the gay community in regards to the progress being made. On one hand, equality and acceptance. On the other hand, the loss of identity and destruction of a subculture that comes with assimilation. In 1991 Marc Almond sang about skulking around under cover of darkness and anonymity, a thing many people had to do because they had no safe places to be themselves, and it was a very sad song. Today when he sings the same song, it’s in a very different world – not a perfect one, but a better one – and it can almost seem like a nostalgic song, nostalgic for harsher, more dangerous, but possibly sexier times.