For years, people have mourned the slow death of the lesbian bar. Only three people left in New York Cityaccording to Lesbian Bar Project, and the total is less than two dozen in the United States. The pandemic that has taken a toll on the service industry hasn’t helped. Many LGBTQ organizations will close in the spring of 2020; some were never reopened.
But as full service has resumed in bars and nightlife has returned, new pop-ups have sought to fill the void and re-imagine the lesbian space.
Dave’s Lesbian Bar, a monthly pop-up in Queens, is among them. For the February event – Valentine’s Day-themed Heart Breaking Festival on February 12 – more than 1,400 people gathered in the Bohemian Beer Hall in Astoria, which was decorated with pink ribbons, balloons and balloons. and signs indicating the gender neutrality of all restrooms. In the upstairs ballroom, guests sang along to Muna’s cover of “Silk Chiffon,” a single about women who love women, performed by the pop-punk band. Daisy Grenade. Downstairs, some guests chanted “mullet, mullet!” as a stylist from Hairrari, a sexist barbershop, cut other people’s hair.
Matching the evening’s prom theme, there are Ao Dai and evening gowns; Princess Diana- and floral-inspired outfits; and lots of spandex and sequins. Several guests have come from the suburbs for this event.
Jordan Chase, 26, who was there with a group of friends from Bushwick, said: ‘I’m glad to see so many gay people hanging out together. “It feels liberating.”
In the 1980s, the United States was home to more than 200 lesbian bars. “It was the only place we could go out,” Deena Updegraff, 61, who frequented many of them as a 20-year-old in Southern California, said in a phone interview. . “We can be ourselves, to each other, and not be defeated.”
In the decades that followed, LGBTQ people began to live open-heart more, as social acceptance, legal protection, and mainstream representation all increase. In turn, lesbian bars began to feel less essential, and attendance declined as operating costs rose. Many points closed.
But even those who have reached the age of marriage equality still crave a sense of community.
“We needed a bar like this,” said Erica Butts, a 26-year-old performer who attends Dave’s events. “This is an excitement, it’s a dream.”
In July last year, Kristin Dausch, a nanny and performer in Astoria, announced plans to open a lesbian bar in the vicinity – a bar that will help promote the work. by local musicians, supporting organizations and producers through concerts and fundraising events. and pop-up market. Thus, Dave’s was born.
Pop-ups rely on the help of volunteers: architects, sound engineers, bartenders. Mx said: “There is a strange person to do anything. Dausch, 34 years old, who uses the pronouns they and they. Contributions from each event are pooled to open the Dave space permanently, which Mx. Dausch hopes to be up and running by the end of the year.
Dave’s isn’t the only place based on a true pop-up model. In Los Angeles, Hot Donna’s Clubhouse hosts monthly events, with the goal of opening a location this year.
“I envision Hot Donna’s as a place where you can hang out, play games, dance, drink,” Lauren Richer, 33, said in a phone interview. “It’s a safer haven than just a bar or a watering hole. It is important to have a community space to gather. “She created a Instagram account for the brand in 2020 and quickly started receiving messages from people who wanted to support the business.
Izzy Grace, 23, volunteered for a tarot reading at a pop-up store last year and has begun building a customer base through her presence at Hot Donna events. Nate Gaultieri, a 28-year-old TV screenwriter with no experience serving drinks, volunteered to shovel ice at a summer rooftop event, quickly becoming attached to Hot Donna’s team, despite being male. volunteers. At December’s holiday market, he even left with a date.
“I feel like I’m living in ‘The L Word’,” joked Mr. Gaultieri.
Angie Castellanos, a hospitality consultant, joined Ms Richer as a Hot Donna partner last July. She got into the industry in the 2000s, when Los Angeles places like the Palms and the Normandy Room were the epicenter of lesbian life. When Palms closed in 2013, leaving one of America’s most populous and diverse cities without a lesbian bar, she felt painfully absent.
“People in line need a safe space. We need a meeting point, we don’t have that because we’re scattered all over the place,” said Catellanos, 40. “You want a place where you can go and be yourself.”
But to make that possible, they will need money. Ms. Richer estimates that she will need $1 million to open Hot Donna full-time.
And those startup costs are insignificant compared to the ongoing costs involved in running a business. In a phone interview, Jen Jack Gieseking, who is writing a book about the history of lesbian bars, couldn’t afford the rent. “Those who are designated as female at birth tend to drink less than those who are designated as male, and we have less leisure spending.”
Mx. Gieseking added that women often find mates outside of bars: through being active, volunteering, earning money. But as Mx. The crowds at a few lesbian spaces linger, Dausch said, suggesting they nonetheless crave as much as a proliferation of pop-ups, including Lesbian Social Detroit, She Life in Miami. , Somebody’s Sister in San Francisco and GrrlSpot in New Orleans.
As You Are Bar, a pop-up bar in Washington, DC that will become a coffee shop and dance club on Barracks Row, is another up-and-coming spot looking to revive the lesbian bar . “We wanted to move away from the capitalist mindset of profit and care about people,” said Rach Pike, 36, one of the founders. “We’re not trying to get rich, but to keep people safe.”
At Dave’s event in February, 34-year-old Jane Salvador was painting her friend’s nails with glitter polish she bought from an upstairs vendor. “Lesbian bars are dying out,” she said, “and we need as many as possible.”
Salvador’s friend Kort Lee, 32, agrees. Mx said: “A lesbian-centered space is really special. Lee. “I am transgender, and the lesbian culture is very pervasive. There’s not a lot of social space for lesbians, and it’s important to keep that history alive, growing, and thriving.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/26/style/lesbian-bars-popup-events.html Lesbian bars are springing up across the country