Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Bonnie & Clyde's

Bonnie & Clyde's

Location: 82 West 3rd Street, New York, New York, USA

Opened: Early 1970s

Closed: Mid 1980s

Just found a very nifty site called Queer Spaces, which documents various spaces related to GLBT history around New York City. Here we see a sign that tells us about Bonnie & Clyde's:

Bonnie & Clyde's, a lesbian bar, stood at 82 West 3rd Street from the early seventies through the mid-eighties. Bars were one of the few places where people could be open about their sexuality. But bars were not only about meeting and mating. In the early seventies, Bonnie & Clyde's was a hangout for politically active lesbians as well as a place where women socialized across racial and class lines. Often women would gather here after meetings at the Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse to continue discussions, arguments or strategy sessions begun earlier in the day.

And here's a little background history on the Queer Spaces project:

As our contribution to the Storefront for Art and Architecture's show Queer Spaces, REPOHistory exhibited eight signs that were placed at New York City sites where gays and lesbians gather for social and political purposes.

The signs described and emphasized the political histories of each site, and their installation was timed in order to coincide with the commemoration the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising.

Further discussion of the Queer Spaces project can be found in REPOhistory's article published as a part of QUEERS IN SPACE: Communities | Public Places | Sites of Resistance, Seattle: Bay Press, 1997.

3rd Street: New York Songlines adds the following information about the 82 West 3rd Street location:

82 West 3rd Street today
In the early 1970s, this was Bonnie & Clyde's, a women's bar. Upstairs had been the gay restaurant Tenth of Always, which later became Bonnie's, and more recently the Boston Comedy Club. Now it's the wine bar Vyne. Downstairs is Zinc Bar, a little jazz club--formerly the Baggot Inn, a pub that featured live music.

Peggy Shaw (of Split Britches fame) also mentions Bonnie & Clyde's in an interview for the Documenting Lesbian Lives Oral History Project at Smith College:

I remember the first lesbian bar I ever went into. It was - I had never seen women dancing together slow before. I had never seen – I had seen drag queens from the bars in Boston, but I had never really seen that kind of really beautiful intense drag of a butch woman and a femme woman. Beautiful. Scary. It scared me. ‘Cause I – I just – it was so other than the culture. It was pretty scary. So you drank a lot pretty fast. You drank. The bars took a lot of money from us. You know, work hard, on Friday night you go to Bonnie and Clyde’s on East – on 3rd Street in West Village, which was an incredible club. I don’t know if you ever heard of Bonnie and Clyde’s. It was mostly black women bar. Lotta attitude, a pool table, a lotta alcohol. I think I stood against a wall drinking a beer for like five years. It wasn’t really encouraged to talk to anybody. You just gave attitude and you get drunk enough and maybe you end up going home with somebody sometimes and that was a failure because you were so drunk and you didn’t know them. It was pretty rough. I mean a lot of men talk about the bars in a different way because men just, I don’t know, they just slam each other against a wall and jerk each other off in the dark. But women don’t do that. In those times that’s what men were doing.

3 comments:

  1. my first bar too. nothing to compare to especially from long island. saw andy warhol one night just standing and watching the scene. the resturant upstairs was sooo good and sooo fun. time passes

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  2. Never knew there was a restaurant. Probably because as my first lesbian bar scene I was throughout mesmerized and smitten by the beautiful and often diverse women on the dance floor. 35 years later, I and a fellow New York-er, shared those fond memories of what use to be. Florida could NEVER hold a Rainbow Candle to what was a lasting memory.

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  3. Loved the line, I stood against the wall drinking beer for five years. Watched the dancing, learned disco, learned to slow dance with a woman-- knocking back a fearsomely potent Rusty Nail and NOT finding my speaking voice. In the early 70's, we drove down from my college near White Plains; refuge in the Village. Elaine opened the restaurant later.

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