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February 10, 2017 at 10:41 am #94304
I want to toss in my two cents on a recent documentary from Viceland cable TV on the extinction of lesbian bars across the US. Not gay bars (mostly male) but female bars. The nation’s oldest, Phase 1, in Wash.DC, started in 1970, closed its doors in 2016 due to lack of business. There are now no specifically lesbian bars in DC, San Fran., New Orleans, and only one in NYC (Henrietta Hudson Bar and GIRL).
This was extinction was attributed to a lot of reasons. I think the documentary failed to mention one that occurred to me: The bars are for (1) drinking and (2) hooking up lone lesbians – so that when lesbians are into sobriety and/or in lasting relationships they no longer frequent these bars. Other reasons that were mentioned is that these were, like most ordinary bars, neighborhood bars; they originally were convenient to (low rent) neighborhoods where single lesbians were inclined to reside, but as these lesbians aged and became more prosperous, and as the new generation of lesbians entered the job market with college degrees and more acceptance and more economic power – the lesbians tended to spread out to the burbs and it seemed very inconvenient to them to drive back into the city, especially the grittier part of the city, just to hoist a beer in a sentimental surrounding. The lesbian demographic was spread out too far and too thin to sustain lesbian bars. At the same time other kinds of gathering spots – regular bars, salad bars, restaurants, etc. – became accepting of LGB customers.
My first reaction is that this makes it tougher on the rising generation of baby dykes to find kindred spirits, but then I remember that lesbian bars were supposed to keep out the teenagers anyway. That was the reason that gay/lesbian bars got started – being liquor establishments, no kids allowed, and that stifled the usual straight panic about us seducing children. It also led to a lot of alcoholism and drinking problems in a demographic that had enough problems when it was cold sober.
I might add that when I was young (in the 1960s) the lesbian bars I went into could be very confusing – you might think, in the first few seconds, that you had mistakenly stumbled into a biker bar or a men’s sports bar — all the ladies were very very butch. But by the 1980s the stereotype had given way – or at least the closet door had opened – and lipstick types were showing up in lesbian bars as well.
- This topic was modified 1 year, 5 months ago by Pearlie.
February 13, 2017 at 1:38 am #94308
Which is why a site like this is so great — because it is, in a way, a “gathering place,” even as the lesbian bars have faded out. So thank you, again @jackie!
Broadly speaking, women’s only “gathering places” are on the rise, I think. Have joined a women’s only club in NYC which is a fantastic place to chill, meet people, or just do your thing in a clean, safe environment. Convenient and perfect to “exhale” in during that “zombie-time” of day when you’re just getting off work and preparing to enjoy an evening, and you need a place where you can grab a shower, and down a vino while you get a blow-dry, etc. that’s for just us women, you know?
Away from this type of safe-zone, and when you’re out in public, one makes eye contact with “kindred sprints” in so many everyday places, it seems like. It’s not unusual to see girl-couples in mainstream bars, or, if you’re single, make eye-contact with other singles in mainstream places. “Kindred spirits” meet at work, or in gyms, during the women’s march (ahem, honestly, did not join that to find a date!), or even when you’re alone in a strange city and grabbing breakfast (like I did!). Maybe this is easier when you’re in a city?
I don’t watch Viceland — did it say anything about that?
February 18, 2017 at 6:58 pm #94314
There was always a problem with LGB gathering spots – straights were terrified that somehow we would seduce their kids! So the easiest solution was setting up bars – because no kids allowed where liquor is served. Unfortunately, providing adult beverages to people who were already dragging emotional baggage seldom made their baggage any lighter.
There were attempts to provide non-alcoholic establishments for the LGB demographic but these seemed to fail financially. I would have thought a so-called bar-and-grill, offering just enough cheap and boring booze on a shelf to qualify to keep kids out, and otherwise serving soft drinks and burgers to an adults-only crowd might prosper, but what do I know about the hospitality industry. Anyway, LGBs would either kill their livers or become obese.
Gay bars (for men) still seem to thrive – but remember that the sexual minority with the Y chromosones behaves in an entirely different way, some of which would make you uncomfortable if I described it, and wouldn’t be tolerated in an ordinary bar.
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