Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Silver Slipper

210 Jackson Street today
The Silver Slipper

Location: 210 South Jackson Street, Seattle, Washington, USA

Founded: 1969

Closed: Late 1970s?

In an 2009 interview with OutHistory, Mary Scott shared the following memories of the Silver Slipper, which was located in Seattle's Pioneer Square:

The Silver Slipper at that time was on -- 210 South Jackson. So we went down there a lot -- for about a year or so. And there were still quite a few of the bar regulars, but it seems to me that the older women just kind of disappeared. I found out later that a lot of them just simply were overwhelmed. They just couldn’t understand or cope with all of this big influx of feminist, out, wild lesbians. A lot of them didn’t look or act like lesbians, and they weren’t into butch and femme. Or everybody looked butch. You couldn’t tell the butches from the femmes! ...

But a lot of the younger non-feminist bar regulars, who were roughly our age -- in their twenties and early thirties -- stayed, and [there was some] social pushing and shoving, so to speak, a period of adjustment on both sides. ...

The Slipper was a women’s bar. It was a lesbian bar. Occasionally a man would come in, but he would be a gay man. He was kind of an oddity, you know? He was there because maybe he knew one of the bartenders, or maybe he was a friend or a brother of a customer there that night, or whatever. He had a legitimate tie, and nobody really minded that. But every once in a while mixed couple would come in. And you could pretty well tell, after a while, whether the men had a legitimate reason for being there, or whether he was with a woman friend or wife -- and they were there looking for a lesbian to go home with them for perverse three-way kinds of [sex ?].

So when you would see a mixed couple zeroing in on a woman who was by herself and started buying her drinks, you knew what was going on. And other lesbians would move in to protect her, or they would try to intervene and either get her out -- if she was too drunk to get out -- somebody would take her either to her home or to their home, or to somewhere for the night. Or they would try to get the het couple to leave peaceably.

Or they would distract them, or as a last resort -- and I saw this happen more than once. Some lesbian would go to the bar and get a beer, and come back and stumble and go, “Whoops!” and dump a beer on the guy. “Oh, I’m so sorry! Oh -- spill over here! Somebody bring a rag!” And they would all pitch in and clean up, and then they would pack up and leave. And I saw that happen two or three times.

Madelyn Arnold had a much chillier impression upon visiting the Silver Slipper in May 1975:

The other bar I was able to trace down, Pioneer Square's Silver Slipper, was like a speakeasy. The stairs leading up to the bar were hard to climb - easily descended, though.

Everyone I noticed glared at me. I had dressed up, naturally: I'd been taught to do that when you Went Out, and if I smiled at anyone, she scowled. I wasn't sure what it was that I had done ... maybe I seemed too eager. After being unable to get anyone to talk, I had a few mostly miserable beers and was heading out for a cab when someone generously helped me fly down the opening stairs. Which is my principal memory of the Silver Slipper.

Photo: 210 Jackson Street today. Location is currently occupied by Empyrean Seattle, which offers "continuing education in massage therapy."

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