Monday, January 23, 2012

El Cafe

Gas Light Cafe (1958-1971)
El Cafe

Location: 116 Macdougal Street, New York, New York, USA

Opened/Closed: 1970s

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.

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