Thursday, May 21, 2015

TNT's

TNT's

Location: 2114 South Memorial Drive, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA

Opened: 1986

Closed: October 2014?

Another long-time Midwestern lesbian bar, now lost.

A few of the "official" descriptions first:

From GayCities:

Hangout for the ladies
TNT's is one of the few (if only) spots dominated by women. Mingle with locals and enjoy the fun, welcoming atmosphere.

TNT patrons (2013)

From Clubfly:

Type: Lesbian Bar
In a nutshell: Girl bar featuring DJ's, karaoke, drag king shows and pool...


From Google+:

Tulsa's only lesbian bar!

And finally, Autostraddle:

TNT’s (2114 S. Memorial Drive) is a bigger club with a dance floor and some pool tables but sometimes there’s a cover charge. This place is a little harder to find since it’s tucked in the back of a shopping center. Drag shows are on Wednesdays (king and queen) while Thursdays are karaoke and “Butch Night Out.” I cannot personally describe to you what this “Butch Night Out” looks like. Instead, I refer you to their website where a clever poem can explain what it is all about. Yes, indeed.

Customer reviews are hard to summarize as there are 236 on TNT's Facebook page alone! Here's one of the positive ones:
TNT bartender (2012)

TNT's has been a Tulsa institution since 1986. Margarita Chandler has done an amazing job making this club a place where everyone feels welcome. Great music, always fun. You can see a show, dance, play pool or darts, or just relax, talk, and have a good time. I am very honored to have Open Hearts Revue here every 2nd Friday of the month.
 
The reviews at GayCities, however, are much less enthusiastic. From LKB:

Kinda like a hole in the wall, but cool if you don't mind that
Not very busy at all on a Friday night! Where's the people? Traveling for Memorial Day Weekend? Psycho regular put her hands to my throat and squeezed for NO reason! She needs to be banned or this bar will go under. Upside: All request DJ, small dance floor, FREE pool! I would go back if I didn't mind going to a smaller place and if I knew that the psycho chick wouldn't be there!

From jessie83:

drama lives here

TNT's Karaoke Night 
(October 2014)
I gave this place one star only cuz it won't take my review with out it. To start of the owner is breaking the law. She buys cheap liquor and puts it in the higher dollar bottles along with watering it all down. No one get IDed so half of the girls there r teens. Aka Baby Dykes. The only good thing they have is their trans bois show ( if they would only put the queens in that show out to pasture) this place don't pass a night without drama. So all and all not worth ur time or money.

Here's one from google+. Of course, there always has to be a lesbophobic jerk:

It is just a bunch of girls on girls?

And finally, a pretty straightforward review from yelp:

Lesbian bar. Never crowded but nice people and a dance floor and DJ.

Hard and fast closing dates are hard to come by, but the last post for TNT's on Facebook was on October 1, 2014 for a karaoke contest (see poster). So I assume it closed sometime around that time.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Kicked Back

The old Kicked Back
Kicked Back
 
Location: 521 Southeast 10th Avenue, Amarillo, Texas, USA

Opened: At least as early as 2009--as it is mentioned as an "also ran" for the "Best Gay and Lesbian Bar" award for that year

Closed: July 2013

Kicked Back was a lesbian bar that went straight---in a rather chilling way.

The old Kick Back

Here's what Clubfly had to say about the former Kicked Back:

Type: Lesbian Bar
In a nutshell: Under new management and no longer gay. Was "Girl bar with open mic, pool, cheap drink specials nightly and a live DJ. Happy hour every day 5pm - 7pm"...

 

The newly straight and
"conservative" Kicked Back
with pornified ad (2014)
Yelp fills us in on the subsequent history, after Kicked Back was closed and turned into Kicked Back Ultra Lounge and Shot Bar:

Specialties

Shots are what we do. It's in our name. Let us create mixed shots and specialty drinks you won't find in the Amarillo area, while providing you with awesome customer service. Also, don't forget our pool tables and wooden dance floor. We look forward to meeting you.        

History

Established in 2013.
           
The business was closed in June of 2013 and put up for sale, and served an alternative lifestyle clientele. The business was later purchased in September 2013. With a new owner, attitude, remodel, and direction, Kicked Back Ultra Lounge and Shot Bar now serves a Conservative clientele in the downtown Amarillo area. With new improvements inside monthly, this bar will be the hottest spot in Amarillo. Listen for us on 93.1 THE BEAT with DJ Element for all upcoming events.

Kind of sends shivers up your back, doesn't it? This is a theme we have seen before, but in this case the language is far more definitive and aggressive.
Kicked Back Ultra Lounge
and Shot Bar after remodeling  (2015)

As we have observed many times before, whenever a bar (or any other entity) serves as a womyn's space--no matter how modestly, no matter how compromised--it is very likely be recolonized by the men with a vengeance.

Very typically it's in a quasi-liberal vibe of going "queer" or "gay." But in this case, even the often veiled language of the takeover is laid bare.

Kicked Back Ultra Lounge and
Shot Bar (2015)
We're unabashedly turning this place from "alternative" (which admittedly is a relatively meaningless descriptor at best in terms of a place being woman-identified) to "conservative," which makes it pretty darn clear that lesbians of any stripe, no matter how down they are with the boys, are not welcome.

This anonymous (male?) customer obviously approves the "conservative" takeover. (And notice how straight men are now defined as "everyone.") From superpages, September 2014:

Amazing bar. It used to be a lesbian bar, but it has been remodeled and new customer base. No longer a gay bar. Its everyone's bar. Building looks great and is clean. The staff is awesome. The drinks, glassware, and layout is amazing. Thank you Kicked Back.

Another thought. I was mentioning this case to my partner and how odd it was that the new owners made a point of advertising that their intended clientele was "conservative." Given that this was a huge change from a lesbian bar, she asked, why did the new owners keep part of the old name? If you were opening up a hamburger place in a former French restaurant, you wouldn't save the old name. That would just be confusing to former and future customers.

So why didn't the owners rename the bar entirely since the place was going from "lesbian" to "conservative"?

Excellent question.

When new owners of a bar, restaurant, or business continue to use the old name, it's because they want to signal to the old customers that they still welcome them, that there is some degree of continuity even if they are making improvements and changes.

But in this case, the new owners seem to be thumbing their noses at the dykes. So is this just a way to taunt the old clientele? To have women show up who didn't know of the ownership change, and just embarrass them? Harass them? Or maybe worse???

Given the stepped up backlash, especially in the south after the same-sex marriage victories, it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest. It also sends the following victory signal loud and clear: Yes, this was your space, ladies, and now we control it. We're not erasing that this was a lesbian bar. Oh, no. On the contrary, we're gleefully celebrating our conquest and stomping all over your space.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Augie's on 20th

Augie's on 20th 
Augie's on 20th


Location: 313-315 20th Street, Rock Island, Illinois, USA

Opened/Closed: 2013-2014?

Here's the clubfly description of Augie's on 20th:

Type: Lesbian Bar
In a nutshell: Notorious as a hangout for girls, save for the 1am-3am timeslot (which is occasionally packed with younger guys fresh from the Davenport LGBT strip). Some guys during the day...the venue feeds off of the neighboring bookstore and two strip clubs, which often makes for an eclectic mix of characters...

Interesting description, in that it illustrates how an identified women's space is frequently overrun by men (both gay and straight)--even though they have their own spaces where lesbians are typically not welcomed and certainly not respected even if they are admitted (e.g. gay male bars, strip clubs).

Clubfly states that Augie's is "closed," but with no date.

But as we see so often, clubfly will often identify a bar as "lesbian"--when no other bar guide or website does so.

So I suspect that this was a space that was provisionally staked out by marginalized lesbians who had no other place to go, but was never actively "dedicated" to them.

On Facebook for example, Augie's is simply described as a "barbeque restaurant" and "bar." Unfortunately, this kind of camouflage and/or ambiguity is not uncommon even with "dedicated" lesbian bars, even in the supposedly liberated 21st century. Here, Augie's status is described as "may be permanently closed." There is just one post, and that one is dated November 2013.

Clubplanet mentions an Augie's, Inc. at this location. However, once again there is nothing in the description to suggest that this is a gay/queer bar, much less a lesbian one:

Remodeled interior at 313 20th Street
Augie's Inc - Of the city’s hundreds and hundreds of bars, Augie's Inc fits right in the middle of the bell curve – a place to hit with your buddies on the way to your ultimate destination. Not the ideal spot for fabulous, drunken debauchery, but it’s a good as place as any to pre-drink.

Foursquare also lists an Augie's, and does describe it as a "gay bar." They say nothing else about it though. So what that means in terms of the women is anybody's guess. It certainly further suggests, however, that the place was not actively centered or openly identified as lesbian space.

Here we see that the building at 313 20th Street with its "Beautifully remodeled Bar" was put up for sale over a year ago. We also find out that the property was previously known as the Lucky Shamrock Bar (c. 2011-2012) In April 2015, it was purchased by the owner of Jaded Gypsy Tattoo.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Women-only parks in Swabi, Pakistan

Women-only parks
Displaced Swabi women at refugee camp
 near Swabi, Pakistan (2009)


Location: Swabi District, Pakistan

Critics often smugly tell us that the desire for women's space is "white" or "middle class" or "elitist." That it's nothing more than a dinosaur related to the second wave of western feminism. Which of course is "white" and "middle class" and "elitist." Ad nauseum.

How this lie manages to get perpetuated again and again is quite the mystery, given that there is zero evidence to support it.

Long time readers of Lost Womyn's Space know that women's space is documented in many indigenous cultures and in western cultures (broadly defined), as early as ancient Greece.

In fact, if anything, women in countries outside of Europe, Australia, Canada, and the U.S. are more unabashedly militant about demanding women's space than their western sisters. Here is an example from Swabi, Pakistan, where feminist activists are demanding women-only parks. (So technically, these parks aren't "lost" so much as they have failed to come into existence--except in the imagination and political will of dedicated women):

Swabi women demand exclusive parks


SWABI: Women political activists have expressed resentment over the successive governments’ failure to establish separate parks for women in the district.

Speaking at a function here the other day, the women activists, including PTI lawmaker Ayesha Naeem and former provincial minister Sitara Ayaz, said that parks provided a sense of pride to womenfolk.

They asked the males in Pakhtun society to treat the women as equal partners, paying attention to their requirements and providing facilities to them so they could be able to enjoy their life.

Ms Naeem said women lawmakers in the previous government didn’t take steps for establishing women only parks in the province. “Women getting elected on reserved seats should work for ameliorating the lot of their gender,” she stressed.

Speaking on the occasion, Sitara Ayaz said parks were place for women and children to come close to nature and learn from each other through interaction. “No doubt parks reflect the quality of life of a community or nation has,” she said.

Pakistan People’s Party, women wing’s district president, Naseem Akhtar said parks were places which helped the women to remain physically active and strong on one hand, and to improve community’s health on the other. “Visits to parks could help to reduce stress,” she added.

They demanded separate parks for women in the district and sought support of male lawmakers in this regard.

“The number of parks in Peshawar and other cities has cropped up,” said Ayesha Naeem, adding that women should not be confined to the four walls of their homes.

Though a women only park has been established at Tarbela Dam, no such places exist in other parts of the district.

“The park has been set up by the dam authorities at Jobi colony, having boundary wall and all the other facilities. Strict security arrangements have also been ensured so women and children could enjoy without any fear,” said Ishrat Khan, a college student. —Correspondent

Women sit together on outskirts of Peshawar
Despite the fact that Peshawar is very different than, say, Pittsburgh, the men's objections in the comment section are pretty identical to that of any similar proposal in the west. We are mansplained as to how these demands will undermine the fight for "women's rights," which of course means women must expend all their energy pleading with men to be nice and include them--hopefully with minimal threats, harassment and violence if you please.

When women bring up that women-only parks are a health and safety issue, that women can't walk, run, or exercise in heavy burkas and the like, especially in hot weather in "male" public spaces, the men waive that away too. You can't have equality and segregation! So get exercise by doing housework at home!

Really, just the same sh**, different place....In reality, they don't support women's space or "women's rights." And no serious feminist would say that one has to be chosen over the other. No real male ally is going to say, sure, we'll give you equal representation in Congress as long as you give up women's locker rooms. No one could possibly take that kind of "offer" seriously.

See the women's park tab for other examples of fights for women's parks. And notice how very similar the reasons listed are for why women wanted them--and why men objected.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Lips Ultra Lounge

Lips Ultra Lounge
Lips Ultra Lounge (aka M's Lip Lounge, Lip Bar, Lips)

Location: 510 North Stanton Street, El Paso, Texas, USA

Opened/Closed: 2010-2011?

From Clubfly:

Type: Lesbian Club

In a nutshell: El Paso's first lesbian ultra lounge and bar with live music, go-go dancers, happy hour and indoor/outdoor patio...

As is typical at clubfly, they note that the place is closed, but provide no date.

At yelp, the same address is referred to as M's Lip Lounge. There is one "official" customer review from October 2011. Scott W. was none to pleased with the place--and is pretty nastily anti-lesbian to boot: 

A sad excuse for a lesbian/gay bar.

The place looks as if it were painted by a couple of second graders.

They constantly have local bands playing here who are just as bad as their sound equipment (dear God it sounds like cats being raped!)

I always see this place while on my way to The Briar Patch and it always seems to be virtually empty.

So to the lesbians of El Paso, stick to your softball matches and volunteer hours at the local cat shelter....cause this ain't the place to be.


Can't help but wonder about Scott's little simile here. I sure hope he doesn't have a personal familiarity with cat raping, but when it comes to men who make a point of hanging around a lesbian bar, one can never be too sure. At any rate, we see here a great demonstration of the casual ease with which anti-lesbian stereotyping, animal torture, and sexual assault go together in the minds of certain cretinous males. And we want more of these guys in our spaces?

There are also three other "unofficial" reviews, all from 2010 and 2011. Here's a defense of the place by melissa m. (apparently the owner) in November 2011:

All we can say is some people just dont get it but those of you who do we love you.  We're not for everyone and we know that in fact we pride that.  If you dont like it you dont come in and thats that we enjoy the company of those that choose to spend their time with us and you know who you are ;). Lets keep rockin elpaso everyday till the day we die!!!!

An (all male) band called Patmos Vision performed there in July 2010. (I think this may be one of those "local bands" that Scott W. so vividly referred to.) Here's a short video if you're interested. That an ostensibly lesbian bar was granting this all-dude band a performance space already tells me we have a mission problem. Are all the lesbian musicians out there fully booked with big dollar contracts with the major record companies? If so, somebody forgot to tell me.

There's a Facebook page for a bar called Lips Bar at this location. One of the last postings is dated August 2014, and it's for...a drag queen show. Since drag queen shows are generally not a part of lesbian culture per se, I'm thinking that Lips is a substantially different place from Lips Ultra Lounge. Once again, it appears we have yet another case of a lesbian bar that was basically taken over by self-identified queers, gay men, drag queens, and/or trans women--probably sometime after 2011.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Women's Music Festivals

West Coast Women's Music Festival (1981)
Women's Music Festivals

Locations: Varied

Opened/Closed: Varied

With this being the last year for the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, I was curious as to what other women's music festivals have been lost over the years. As it turns out, Curve came up with a list back in October 2010--though the information they provide is sadly lacking in detail. 

Given that this list is almost five years old, I'm sure a lot of the festivals they listed as "still going strong" are now lost as well, but it's not always easy to determine. If lack of any recent Internet activity is any evidence, it looks like Chicago's Estrojam (later Decibelle) may be history as well.

Over time, I'll try to pull up more information on some of these.

Gone but not forgotten fests

Camp fest (Maryland and Pennsylvania):


Billed as the “comfortable” festival, it had cabins and a pool—filled with half-naked women. Campfest quit a few years ago and we miss it—the festival, not just the naked ladies.

East Coast Lesbian Festival (New York):

Proudly sporting “lesbian” in its title, this small but mighty festival existed for a few years back in the ’90s.

Gulf Coast Womyn’s Festival (Mississippi):

Tired of renting space, organizers Wanda and Brenda Henson bought 120 acres near Ovett, Miss. After Henson’s death, her children took over the fest, and the event morphed into the Camp Sister Spirit Folk School. Unfortunately, the last event was in 2009. We missed them this year, and will for years to come.
Lady Fest - Olympia, Washington (2000)

Lady fest (various cities):

It started in 2000 in Olympia, Wash., but is actually several festivals that happen all over the world; they share the same name and the same DIY attitude, but not much more.The original fest is gone but the one in London is still alive.

Northeast Women’s Music Retreat (New England):

Long-running and much-loved, this annual festival was a freakin’ good time. We wish it were still running.

Rhythm fest (Georgia and North Carolina):

Started by workers from other festivals, this was one of the first in the Deep South.Too bad they aren’t around anymore.

Southern Women’s Music and Comedy Festival (Georgia):

Organizer Robin Tyler felt so strongly about including comedy that she put it in the title. Tyler brought in political activists and authors too. Sadly, it ended in 1995.

West Coast Women’s Music Festival (California):

Fifteen years of 2,000 or more women in the woods near Yosemite. Did it get any better than that?

Wimmin fest (New Mexico

Shows were at the beautiful Kimo Theatre in downtown Albuquerque. They stopped just a few years ago. Damn.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Michigan Womyn's Music Festival

Michigan Womyn's Music Festival


Location: Hart, Michigan, USA

Opened: 1975

Closed: 2015

I always feared that someday I would be posting about Michfest as a Lost Womyn's Space...

Thank you to Lisa Vogel and all the amazing womyn who kept this going for 40 years.

I'm so glad I had the opportunity to got back in the 80s. I loved every minute of it. Unfortunately, life interfered after that and I never got to go again. The one performance singed into my memory is Ronnie Gilbert singing "Good Night, Irene"--with thousands of women joining in on the chorus. It gives me goose bumps just thinking about it.

Did a little research, and it was apparently in '85. Here's another great Ronnie Gilbert memory.

From the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival:

Dear Sisters, Amazon, Festival family,
It has been my honor and privilege to produce the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival for 40 years. It has been my life’s work, my deepest commitment, my constant challenge and my most profound joy. Every single thing of value I have learned in the world I have learned in the process of being part of building this beloved community. Almost every friend and family member who I cherish I have met on that hallowed ground, and every single way I have learned to put my mind/heart/shoulder into the purpose of creating something beautiful that honors womyn has come from the sweat I earned on that Land.
I am writing to tell you that the 40th Festival will be the last Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. The spirit of this community will live on forever, the friends and family we have found on the Land are eternal. Everything we have created together will feed the inspiration for what comes next. It’s possible that I will come back with something else, or that other sisters will take the inspiration of the Michigan community and create the next expression of our Amazon culture. What is true for me is that now is the time to bring this 40-year cycle to a close, stepping out on joy at our most incredible anniversary celebration.
We have known in our hearts for some years that the life cycle of the Festival was coming to a time of closure. Too often in our culture, change is met only with fear, the true cycle of life is denied to avoid the grief of loss. But change is the ultimate truth of life. Sisters – I ask you to remember that our 40 year Festival has outlived nearly all of her kin. She has served us well. I want us all to have the opportunity to experience the incredible full life cycle of our beloved Festival, consciously, with time to celebrate and yes, time to grieve.
There have been struggles; there is no doubt about that. This is part of our truth, but it is not--and never has been--our defining story. The Festival has been the crucible for nearly every critical cultural and political issue the lesbian feminist community has grappled with for four decades. Those struggles have been a beautiful part of our collective strength; they have never been a weakness.
For many of us this one week in the woods is the all too rare place and time where we experience validation for our female bodies, and where the female experience presides at the center of our community focus. A place to lay our burden down from the misogyny that pervades our lives from cradle to grave…a place to live in intergenerational community, and to live in harmony with Mother Earth. I know this is true for me. And I have a deep trust that each and every one of us can take what we have experienced on that Land and continue to create space that feeds our spirit, creates diverse community, honors our experience and supports our struggle as womyn making our way through the patriarchal world. Please take what you love about Michigan and use it to create something new and beautiful.
It is important that each and every one of us knows she is empowered to build on what we have experienced together on the Land. Everything you feel on the Land, everything you see – is something of spirit, and love, and passion for female empowerment….for womyn’s community. The Festival’s 40 years of culture and community are a powerful seed and our communal experiences have created fertile ground to plant in. I know that we will find inspiration and vision to create our next time and space.
For those of us who will be gathering for our 40th anniversary this August – let’s joyously hold up our incredible community and allow ourselves to be strong enough to consciously let go of this incarnation of her, with all the love we each hold in our beautiful hearts. Let us gather this August knowing that what we truly cherish about the Festival lives on in each of us, and more will come from this fertile ground. Let’s do this up together – Amazon proud!
I will meet you there in August – my eyes meeting yours, heart wide open.
With all of my love and respect,
Lisa