Monday, 26 June 2017

"See You At The Club!"

That's what my lesbigay pals and I always used to say to each other back in the day if there was a nearby straight person even remotely within earshot. But what we REALLY meant, of course, was . . . .


Today, with the rise of the internet, online dating sites and e-hookups, gay bars are no longer in their heyday. But some still do exist and the bigger ones manage to stay in business.




And I haven't seen or even heard of an exclusively lesbian bar ANYWHERE in about 25 years. Those exist now only in our fading memories!



At one time, of course, gay and lesbian bars were the ONLY safe spaces that existed for LGBT+ people to be freely and openly ourselves. Their decline in recent years is, in fact, a measure of the success of the Pride movement because now people can safely be open in many places in our society.

But hey, now it's AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION TIME! Confess ALL in the comments below! And c'mon, I know a lot of you straight people have been to our bars too -- yes, yes, JUST to see a drag show, I know -- SO YOU 'FESS UP TOO!


The first gay or lesbian bar I ever went to was MS PURDY'S in WINNIPEG. It operated from about 1985 to 1995 or so, if memory serves me correctly. As I described it once before on my blog --

It wasn't quite as seedy inside as it looked from the outside, LOL! Ms Purdy's was a small place but managed to pack in a pool table, a good-sized stand-up bar, about a dozen tables and chairs and a small mirrored dance floor. Its windows were, of course, unbreakable one-way glass so we could see out but no one on the street could see in. The front door led into a security foyer where you'd first have to run the gauntlet of a couple of big dyke bouncers before being allowed into the bar itself. The purpose of that was to keep out gaybashers, religious nuts seeking to condemn us and/or save our souls, irate husbands/boyfriends looking for their AWOL wives/girlfriends, and men of all descriptions.


[Photo © Debra She Who Seeks, 1990]

Ah, GOOD TIMES! Now I want to hear about YOURS!

40 comments:

anne marie in philly said...

mark (who writes the "tales of the sissy" blog) and his husband joe and their friends took me to my first gay bar in rehoboth beach DE, the blue moon.

mark was performing neil sedaka/neil diamond songs in the legends review at the bar. what I loved about it (besides mark's wonderful singing voice) was the fact that NO GUYS were interested in me/tried to feel me up/make nasty comments about me. better than a str8 bar!

DEZMOND said...

I wonder if any of the sisters would flirt with me if me went into a lezbiebar? Never been to a gay bar actually, you must take me sometimes, Debs... especially if they throw themselves at newcomers :)

Bob Slatten said...

My first gay bar was a place called Faces in Sacramento where i lived at the time. There have been many ever since, though fewer in recent years as my bar days wind down, but Faces is still around and doing booming business.
I just remember it as a fun place where you no longer felt alone.

Davoh said...

Confessions?? OK will admit to experimenting with sexual experiences during the late 1960' and 70's. male, female, it mattered not.
Had experience with myself and two female friends. Friends are friends.

Still retain the belief that humans are 'ambisexual'. The desire crosses all religious, political and philosophical boundaries.

Davoh said...

Does beg a question though. Can a lesbian allow herself to experience sexual pleasure with a male? 'Tis possible.

Marie Smith said...

My experience with bars of any kind is limited. It is good sociey has evolved as it has. There is still a long way to go!

Davoh said...

Adding to my previous comment .. would you believe that also, in my teens, experimented with 'male with male' sexual experiences.

Now, in elder age, it matters not. What IS important - is a commitment to remain "together" ... which is an extremely complicated concept.

Davoh said...

" ... 'til death do us part" ......????

Adam said...

Gay bars? I don't even go to straight bars

Susan said...

Eons ago, in Cleveland, I had a downstairs neighbor who was gay. And brilliant. He had some high-tech job, working for a very conservative, straight Asian guy. I was his steady 'date' for any company events. I once brow-beat him into taking me to his favorite gay bar (the name of which escapes me) and I had a ball - even though I am sure I was a total pest and got in the way.

e said...

So sad! Yes, the lesbian bars are all gone now, at least in my city. My first lesbian bar was called Choices, on SE Stark Street. A basement bar with low ceilings, a small dance floor, a small bar and a few tables. Good times were had!

The other lesbian bar closed more recently, but it has still been at least 5 or 6 years since the Egyptian Room shut its doors. That one was bigger, with several rooms, pool tables, video poker, two bars and a big dance floor.Good times were had there, too!

There is a gay bar around the corner from me. It's all men but they don't discriminate against a dyke spending money. Actually, the owners and bartenders are friendly and want us to keep coming back, and the guys basically ignore us, so... yeah! Good enough.

We also have a once or twice a month lesbian dance party. Originally called Hot Flash, now rebranded as Inferno, it fills the need for lots of women. And, it points up a difference between men and women. The men go to the bar many days a week, and the women only go occasionally or on weekends. The lesbian bars couldn't make a go of it without consistent patronage. So, weekends -- We Dance!

A Beer For The Shower said...

You say gay bars are no longer in their hey day, but every single gay bar I've ever been to has been slammed with people.

This is the part where I would explain that it's because my brother-in-law always invites the wife and I out to gay bars with him (which are a lot of fun, admittedly), but I get now that this is why all the beard jokes. I get it.

The first one I ever went to was called Boyztown. Let the jokes commence.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ Susan -- Oh my, Susan, you were a "beard!" Glad you had a good time at the gay bar!

Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ e -- "Hot Flash, now rebranded as Inferno" hahahahahahaha, love it!

Miss Val's Creations said...

It is interesting how things evolve. There was a local club nearby when I was growing up that had a gay night each week. It also an underage dance club 1 night a week too (which is where I would go to dance). Maybe there was not enough out and proud people to support a full time gay bar.

Drag shows are super fun for us straight ladies to let loose. There is a popular spot in Boston for bachelorette parties and the like! It must be more complicated now for dating at bars for those who do not have gaydar. :)

Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ A Beer for the Shower -- Oh, Bryan and Brandon, you know I would NEVER make a beard joke about your lovely wives.

Debi said...

Hmmm? In reference to my other comment on kindness! 1969/70 naive runaway found myself safe in the gay community. Maitland & Young st, Church St. , Jarvis & Parlament Toronto. Safe from cops picking up young girls, & taking them to cherry beach, rounders, bikers, my first education on survival was from the gay community, when it was very dangerous for them and me. La Trik up from Sam the record man on Younge St ......other names I can't remember.

Kirk said...

Too's Company, in the suburbs of Cleveland.

Sadist's magick said...

The first gay bar I ever went to was a club called 'Bronx' in Cape Town, quickly followed by a visit to 'Sliver' (a lesbian club) and then 'Club 55' (gay bar). This was in what is today known as 'gay village' in Cape Town. Sadly, none of these clubs still exist however there are new clubs and many restaurants all proudly flying rainbow flags.

Professor Chaos said...

I think it was called the Eagle. It was definitely in San Francisco. Went because a dj we liked was playing there. Disappointingly, did not get hit on at all!

MrsDuncanMahogany said...

LOL Ms. Purdy's!!!! That red awning is forever etched into my memory!!! But sadly, I have never been to a gay bar. I am not a "bar" person but that should not be my excuse!!!

Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ MrsDuncanMahogany -- I may be out of date, but I think the only gay bar in Winnipeg still left from "the old days" is Club 200 (used to be the drag bar, I don't know if it still is). Gio's and Happenings (and of course Ms Purdy's) are all long gone now, alas. But I see from an internet search that there's a new one downtown called Fame Night Club.

Frank said...

I came out late in life (I was 36) and remember fondly the first time I went to Backstreet in Hartford, CT with my new boyfriend - a disco bar on a non-descript street in an industrial area...it was like walking from a deserted city into the land of OZ where all was technicolor and throbbing music and gaiety and hundreds of bodies dancing. Heaven, I thought, couldn't be better. I am so glad I had the opportunity to experience several gay bars during the 80's before most closed. Lots of good times.

Leeanna Henderson said...

The only Gay bar I went to was The Plantation. I got hit on twice. It was a fun place because everyone dressed up and danced all night long. The DJ was awesome. And no, I didn't go home with anyone.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ Frank -- That is a VERY apt description of what it was like to go into a gay bar then! What a contrast between the vibrant interiors and the discreetly plain, downplayed exteriors! Back in the old days, of course, they didn't even have signage on the exteriors to indicate where the bars were located -- you either were "in the know" about where they were or you weren't.

bill lisleman said...

I don't think I was ever in a gay bar. I had heard of a few and walked by some over the years. Just the other day there was a discussion on the Chicago NPR station about the changes in Chicago's "boy's town" area. I wonder if these distinct areas will so start disappearing too as acceptance increases.

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

I went to a Drag Queen show last week. It was incredibly frustrating, Debra, because there were many hot, friendly men there . . . with their boyfriends.

It's not a gay bar per se, but it's the closest thing we have to one. That's cool; it used to be a Harley Biker bar. Now it's the most customer-friendly, all accepting bar in town.

Have a great week.

Jamie Meyers said...

Funny story, way back when, a friend of mine from college and I went to go to a hockey game that was sold out. Disappointed, we decided to look for a bar where we could go and watch the game on TV. We asked some locals where such a bar might be and they gave us the name of a place. We went there and ordered beers. Looked around and no TV. Oh well, that was disappointing. My friend excused himself to go to the men's room. While he was there I suddenly noticed all the patrons were guys and the light went on. When he returned, my friend marveled at the condom machines they had in the restrooms. I revealed my revelation and we both got a good laugh at that.

He never knew that I was bi curious and found the experience more interesting than he probably did.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ Jamie Meyers -- Well, that was a happy accident! I hope your bi-curiosity ultimately got satisfied, Jamie!

Jim said...

The first gay bar I went into was 'Reflections' in 1973. I had just met my husband-to-be, Ron, and we drove in from the Annapolis Valley to the big city of Halifax!! Couldn't believe there were SO MANY gay people there!!
what a relief it was to just be yourself with no one watching and judging.
Oh, this club just closed this year.

Janie Junebug said...

I'm so dull that I've only been in about half a dozen bars in my life. I'm sure I haven't been anyplace as interesting as a gay bar. My son went to a gay bar here in Jacksonville. He said quite a few guys hit on him.

Love,
Janie

Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

I've never been to a gay bar and I feel deprived! However, I did invite a gay couple to my house for dinner when my older daughter was a toddler. This was back in...oh...about 1995. Everyone I knew opposed and criticized and disliked anything related to the LGBT community, so this took guts to do. I went against the general opinion. This has to count for something, no? Bah, who cares. I did it because these were my friends and because I wanted to raise my daughter to love. She had enough outside negativity to contend with and I wanted her foundation (me) to help guide her in the right direction. It paid off. Both my girls are very loving and I'm proud of them.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ Plowing Through Life -- Good for you, Martha! You had the courage to act against popular opinion and bring up your girls right!

Magaly Guerrero said...

The first gay bar I ever went to was called Lush. It was right outside the gates of a military base. I loved the place. It was the only spot I could go to and dance all night without having to keep myself from punching someone in the face. The thing I loved most was that although everyone knew I was straight, no one ever made me feel unwelcome. It was a safe place.

Missy George said...

Never made it to a gay bar..I really haven't been to very many bars..maybe at the shore in my 20's in the summer..Sorry I can't share any interesting stories ..enjoyed yours..

Rain said...

Hi Debra :) I grew up in Montreal and worked in bars until my early 20's, so going to gay bars and clubs was kind of the norm. We just went wherever everyone else was going, so sometimes it was straight clubs (or do I just say clubs???) sometimes it was gay clubs. I think the first one I ever went to was in 1987 in the "gay village" of Montreal, it might have been called Sky Bar, but I just can't remember! I do however remember it mostly being guys and there was a drag queen show. It was a fun experience for me. I didn't get hit on at all though lol...

Blogoratti said...

Good old times that must have been back then. I have never been to a gay bar, but I have heard stories. But I did go to a bar once and was approached...ahem. Greetings!

JACKIESUE said...

number 2 asshole took me to San Francisco to Phenocio's..??? not sure of the spelling...I was a very naive 25 year old..he gave me no clue to where we were going or what to expect..It was amazing..all these beautiful women and then there were some not so beautiful women that I realized might just be men dressing up as women..wow..that's cool..we were right next to the stage ..I mean front row...and then the beautiful lady that was the announcer came over to where we were sitting and leaned over and said I'd give anything to have a pair of tits like yours and everyone laughed and I of course laughed too...when she moved on I asked Bill why would she want a pair of tits like mine? she has great tits..and Bill laughed and said 'she's a he'...he spent the rest of the night explaining homosexuality, transgenders and cross dressing to me..wow..what a new and wonderful world it was...and from that moment (1968) I became gay friendly.. only good thing I got out of that marriage.

Magic Love Crow said...

I have never been to a gay bar before. But, I have been down to the "Gay Village" in Toronto. And, I have to admit, I have even kissed a girl! Not there. Funny enough, she was a girl I worked with and she was married!! Long time ago! LOL!

Fundy Blue said...

I've never been to a lesbian bar, but I've been to the same gay bar a number of times in recent years. It's one of my favorite bars in Honolulu: Hula's on Kapahulu Ave. Hula's is on the second the second floor of the Waikiki Grand Hotel, and its whole front side is open to the outside and looks out over the Honolulu Zoo and the full sweep of Diamond Head. I've never been there during a drag show or later in the evening when it gets "freer." But I love sitting at the bar, enjoying mai tais, listening to great live music, and chatting with the fun bartenders. I have always been treated with respect and welcomed by the gay staff and patrons.