Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Beit Hasho'eva bar (formerly the Minerva)

The Beit Hasho'eva bar
The Belt Hasho'eva bar (formerly the Minerva)

Location: 98 Allenby Street, Tel Aviv, Israel

Opened: 1994

Closed: 2008

Here's how Frommer's reviewed her back when she was still known as the Minerva Bar:

This always-interesting basement art gallery with an adjacent bar is an easygoing meeting place for the lesbian community. Both the bar and gallery are open daily from 8pm until late. Increasingly pan-gender-friendly.

Aguide2israel had this to say about Minerva's.

The most popular lesbian bar in TLV. Excellent music from different DJs every night, passionate vibes and a gender baffling atmosphere. With its 10th anniversary behind it – Minerva is a proud TLV institution that never fails to provide a sweet time to its dedicated crowd

 After she became Beit Hasho'eva, the TelAvivGuide weighed in with this review:

Situated in a legendary location, Beit Hashoeva is a lively yet unassuming place that will fit various tastes and styles. Taking over the space of the Minerva bar, a long standing lesbian bar that dominated the lesbian Tel Avivian scene for over a decade, Beit Hashoeva is the answer for a laid-back yet upbeat all-women night. Though Beit Hashoeva claims to be a place for gays, lesbians, bi and friendly-straights, the majority of the crowd usually possess two “X” chromosomes (choosing the location the Minerva used to be sets the tone). The music varies and the crowd is perhaps on the more mature side, though it really depends on the event, the DJ and the day of the week.

And then there was the ever-reliable GayCities, which, as usual, was brief and to the point:

Beit Hashoeva *
Formerly: Minerva

Hangout for the ladies
Though all are welcome at Beit Hashoeva, it's become the lesbian stomping ground for Tel Aviv.

But even though this "lesbian hangout" had 5 stars--and was the only lesbian bar in town--she didn't survive much beyond her 14th birthday. In December 2008, it was announced that Beit Hasho'eva was closing for good.


Tel Aviv's last lesbian bar closes its doors after 14 years

It would be hard to fill the void left by the Minerva, which wasn't just another hangout for Tel Aviv's lesbian community; it was its beating heart.

The Beit Hasho'eva bar officially closed its doors on Sunday, bringing to a halt 14 years in which it served as the heart of Tel Aviv's lesbian community.

Throughout the years, the Minerva, as it was formerly known, was burnt down, reopened, sold to different owners, only to return to the hand of community stalwart Adi Keizerman under the new moniker "Beit Hasho'eva."

It was always changing. Its basement first served as a gallery, then as an empty dark room. A pool table went in, and then out, a stage and smoking lounge were added, the DJ booth moved around a bit, but in essence things stayed the same.

However, the Minerva wasn’t just the lesbian community's favorite hangout, but an inherent and important part of the life of that community. It has not finally closed its doors, after 11 years as the Minerva and 3 as the Beit Hasho'eva following the owner's wishes to turn the building into a luxury high-rise.

In its final closing time, the bars black walls were lit with soft spotlights which illuminate the bar that stands at the Minerva's center. Tall, square tables are positioned around, under a row of brothel-like red lanterns. The DJ's booth stands on a small podium.

Facing it, behind a black curtain and a old lit-up Motel sign, a smoking lounge appears with three couches and illustrated pink wallpaper. The minimalist décor in the bar was meant to serve the girls who came there, getting out of the way of the odd look across the room.

And at the time of its closing, squares and hipsters, fat and thin, young and old – the entire community – came to pay their last respects to the Minerva, the only exclusively lesbian bar in a city advertising itself as a refuge for Israel's LGBT population.

I see here that Beit Hasho'eva was kosher. Can't help but wonder if this was the first-- and only--kosher lesbian bar in existence....

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