Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Twelve-Thirty Club

1230 North Clybourn today
The Twelve-Thirty Club

Location: 1230 North Clybourn Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, USA

Opened: 1933, perhaps earlier?

Closed: Ordered closed December 27, 1934/gone by early 1935

Sometimes called the 1230, the Twelve-Thirty Club is usually mentioned in the same breath with the Roselle Inn. Both were Chicago "women's cross-dressing clubs" or lesbian bars which were closed on the same day by mayoral decree. From the Chicago History Museum blog:

Although 1933 marked the end of Prohibition, the Pansy Craze continued for almost another decade. But even as speakeasies were allowed to reclaim their status as bars, many queer–friendly spaces were shut down. The Ballyhoo Café, Dill Pickle Club, and two establishments frequented by lesbians, the Twelve Thirty Club and Roselle Inn, all closed in the mid-1930s. In October 1935, the Cabin Inn and the De Luxe Café were raided by the Chicago Police, who insisted that the drag queens “Put on pants or go to jail.” By the time Chicago entered the 1940s, the congeniality of Prohibition had past: a sharp line had been drawn between gay and lesbian bars and straight establishments.

Once again, both clubs are mentioned here:

After 1920 women who occasionally wore men's clothing and those who passed as men began to socialize more openly in cafes and night clubs. In Chicago two night clubs, the Roselle Club, run by Eleanor Shelly, and the Twelve-thirty Club, run by Becky Blumfield, were closed by the police during the 1930s because "women in male attire were nightly patrons of the places". Many of the couples who frequented these clubs had been married to each other by a black minister on Chicago's South Side.

And also in this article on Chicago's "Gay 30s" by Lucinda Fleeson:

Still, reformers demanded that Mayor Edward J. Kelly clean up nightlife, and they campaigned against strippers and female impersonators. Early in 1935, police padlocked the K-9 Club and the Ballyhoo. Two lesbian cafés, the Twelve-Thirty club, at 1230 Clybourn Avenue, and the Roselle Inn, at 1251 North Clark Street, were shut. In October 1935, police raided two State Street nightspots, the Cabin Inn and the De Luxe Cafe. "Put on pants or go to jail," police ordered the drag queens. For a while the black-and-tan cafés were allowed to continue their drag shows, but then they, too, were shut down. Police raided the Halloween Balls at the Coliseum. By 1935 Mayor Kelly had eliminated gay nightlife.

 Lastly, there is this reference:

1230 was a women's cross-dressing club in the early 20th century.  it was one of three clubs chicago mayor ed kelly ordered closed on december 27, 1934.

Not surprisingly, the Twelve-Thirty's twin sister, the Roselle Inn, was one of the other clubs cited in that shut down order.

As can be seen in the photo above, all physical remains of the Twelve-Thirty Club have been obliterated.

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