This purpose of this project is to commemorate and honor lost womyn's space--both ancient and modern. This can mean anything from lost women's colleges and schools, to lesbian bars and clubs. And everything sacred and profane in between.
Monday, January 23, 2012
Gas Light Cafe (1958-1971)
Location: 116 Macdougal Street, New York, New York, USA
El Cafe is another one of those random lesbian bars I happened to find by strolling through New York Songlines--a very neat guide to the historical geography of New York City. This is what they had to say about the location:
116: Below Frequency ("body piercing/ watches") and Spring Gallery (Chinese gifts) is the storied space of Alibi. It was previously the Wreck Room and before that Scrap Bar, a punkish bar with post-industrial decor. In the 1970s, it had been El Cafe, a lesbian bar. In the 1950s it was the Gas Light Cafe, the "quintessential Beat hangout"; it launched the Village poetry-reading craze with readings by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Kerouac, Ginsberg, Corso, LeRoi Jones et al.; Bob Dylan played here and stayed in a room upstairs. Before that it was Louis' Luncheon, hangout for writers, Ziegfield Follies chorus girls, gays and lesbians.
Alibi - 116 Macdougal Street today
This always happens when I investigate old lesbian bars in the Village. I can find photos and information about the location's earlier and later incarnations--when it is/was mostly male and/or straight. But little to nothing for when it was a womyn's space. Funny, that....
El Cafe definitely fits the rule. I could regale you with stories about Bob Dylan and the other Dude Poets at the Gas Light. I could list all kinds of recent GLBT poetry readings at Alibi.
But I can't find anything more about El Cafe. Hopefully, I'll have another happy accident at some point, and trip over something interesting to share.