Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Suzi B's

Three women at Suzi B's
Suzi B's

Location: 1829 Montrose Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, USA

Opened/Closed: 1980s/1990s

It's very difficult to know for sure when Suzi B's was open and alive.

In August 2000, Kathy Edens related the following story about the birth of Suzi B's:

"When Debbie ( Rae ) was looking for a bar she took me to several places that were for sale, and she said, 'What do you think about this place?' And I was, 'Oh, I don't know.' Then when we walked into where Suzy B's was, I said, 'This is it. I feel it.' We sat there and we drank, and they bought the place. It was just an old man's neighborhood bar, and there was a beautiful skylight in there; they had a fake ceiling below that. It was very dark, but it was just the layout of the bar, it was small and comfortable. I used to go there a lot."

Unfortunately, Kathy doesn't tell us when this happened. (Note that every account I have seen spells "Suzi B's" in a different way. Kathy called it "Suzy B's." I'm going by what was on the t-shirt above.)

We see that Cynde Schauper: CYBERFEM! had a performance there in October 1989. (Cynde called it "Susie B's".) So we know it was open then.

In a 1998 essay on AIDS activism in the late 80s and early 90s, ACT UP/Chicago member Mary Patten describes the ways in which the personal and the political were hopelessly entangled. Suzi B's is mentioned of course. And also that Suzi B's was now gone at the time of her recollections:

'Those were the days when we would go into Suzi B's ( a since-closed dyke bar ), and we knew everybody ( and everyone knew us ) .' The connective tissue between our 'private' and our 'public' lives—between the ways we did political work and organizing, had sex, played, theorized, and mourned—was strong, elastic, sometimes barely noticeable."

After Suzi B's went out of business, it was replaced by Scot's, a gay men's ("LGBT-friendly") bar.

Photo: "Short-lived" women's bar, Suzi B's, Photo of Scot's exterior

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