Friday, February 3, 2012

Wetherbee's

Wetherbee's

Wetherbee's

Location: 2510 Northeast Vivion Road, Kansas City, Missouri, USA

Opened: 2004 at latest, and probably earlier

Closed: Around 2010 or 2011

Gaycities informs us that Wetherbee's is "mostly women" and that it's "a good place to hang out, shoot some pool and enjoy a few drinks." Kind of a Kansas City neighborhood dyke dive north of the river.

Fair enough. But it's hard to find many reviewers who concur with these points.

In a Gaycities customer review from September 2009, two local gay men seemingly affirm that yes, this was a women's bar. But as a drinking establishment, Weatherbee's didn't measure up to their exacting standards--though it might be "okay" enough for dykes (thanks, guys!):

If your a lesbian, then this bar is okay, but for gay men, forget it. It is located a LONG way North from downtown Kansas City and from all the other gay bars. Have been there three times and never again. They also have a cover (for absolutely NO reason).

As a point of geography, this is actually a noteworthy observation. Especially in the American midwest, lesbian bars are often pushed out of the "more desirable" (expensive) downtown "gayborhood" locations where the boys' bars are located. So they end up in "less desirable" (cheaper) sites in rundown strip malls on the outskirts of the city or in the deteriorating inner-ring suburbs.

Despite all that, it's interesting that other Gaycities reviewers didn't necessarily recognize Wetherbee's as a lesbian bar at all.
Wetherbee's interior (2010)

Take this assessment from March 2009:

There is a mixed could [crowd?] of people there's gay, lesbian, and straight. Only thing is the club is very grouped and every group stays to themselves.

Or this one from August 2009:

younger crowd very mixed group, straight

Over at Clubplanet, the reviewers weren't sure what kind of bar Wetherbee's was...since the spot was often deserted.

From April 2008:

went there about 9:30 stayed until 10:30 or so bartender was very nice but place was empty and i do mean empty bartender tolld me they wouldnt get people realy until midnight or so then would be busy till 3am closeing so if your an early bird like me it wont be worth it if you can hold out for midnight looked like it could be a fun spot

(The comment above reads more like free verse poetry than a bar review, but I digress....)

From August 2009:

I don't know what this place is. Some say it is a gay joint. I think the only way you would know for sure is if anyone showed up at this place. For a nightclub of whatever kind it is just about as dead as it gets.

There is some evidence that Wetherbee's was more popular as a lesbian bar earlier in the decade. For example, it gets an affirmative nod in a butch-femme forum in August 2004:

if you live (or are) up north of the river, check out Weatherbee's. I've certainly had some fun times there....although, I never can seem to get a pool table. ;)

Nearly two years later, it was still rated as a "great Lesbian hangout." From yahoo in May 2006:

Great Lesbian hangout: This is THE place for lesbians in KC. There are all types of us there. It's great to have a fun, energetic social sceene. Food, drink, pool, darts, dancing, and the occasional show!

So what happened? Like Tootsie's, another former Kansas City lesbian bar, it seems that Wetherbee's was overtaken by sleezy straight dudes and the lesbians stopped coming. A commenter from August 2006--just three months later--documented the transition. This is also from yahoo:

Its not the safest place to go.: The club use to a be a great place to go and dance with no worries of of anyone bothering you or any problems. But lately I dont go because of all the guns and fight. I dont like to go out and have someone just grab me. I dont feel safe any more. And that is sad because a like the staff and the music. Now its more straight men. And they need to go to there own bars and let us have a few bars that we can be ourselves.

It's enough to make you throw up your hands in despair.

Gaycities does report that Wetherbee's is now closed, though no date is provided. The last customer comment I find is dated 2011; the earliest are from 2004. So I presume that Wetherbee's existence spanned those years at a minimum.

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