Thursday, February 2, 2012

Tower Lounge

Tower Lounge staff (1988)
Tower Lounge

Address: Forrest Road, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Opened/Closed: 1970s - 1980s

Outhistory provides the following introduction to the Tower Lounge:

Now closed, one of the longest-surviving lesbians bars in the city was the Tower Lounge. In the 1980s, other bars for gay women included Arney's, Deana's One Mo' Time, Rose, Sportspage, and Toolulah's.

From the archives of the Atlanta Lesbian Feminist Alliance (ALFA), we pick up this little factoid regarding the Tower Lounge:

Nov. 1983: First performance of the Jane Doe Band at the Tower Lounge

Which at least verifies that it was open as of November 1983.

We know that Red Dyke Theater, founded in 1974, used to perform at the Tower Lounge as well, though I don't find any dates listed.

Perhaps the most extensive narrative describing Tower Lounge appears in Rebels, Rubyfruit, and Rhinestones, James Thomas Sears' history of the "Stonewall South." In a chapter on the Atlanta Lesbian Feminist Alliance (ALFA) Omega softball team, we learn the following:

Following a festive afternoon on the diamond, players with white pants turned Georgia-clay red and spectators with voices turned hoarse crowded into the Tower Lounge--an after work, blue-collar lesbian bar on Forrest Road. Located under a towering radio antenna, the bar had pool tables, occasional concerts, dancing, and quarter beers on Tuesday and Thursday nights. ALFA members mixed easily with the other customers. Some of these older women remembered years earlier when the lounge had been a restaurant, serving a clientele of lesbians and working-class heterosexual men. This was the kind of woman, observes Vicki, "who had been lesbian in the 1950s and '60s, who had come through the school of hard knocks of lesbian life. As I met this group of lesbian southerners, I was very drawn to all of them, feeling that each of them had a piece of history that helped me to understand the world I was entering."

Elizabeth Knowlton remembers well those evenings and weekend summer afternoons at the Tower: "We didn't have many public places. The Tower Lounge was really important to us. What we found out very soon in the women's movement was that if you had a critical mass, you changed the space. And, at ALFA, we did everything in a mass!"

And finally, in her memoirs Tina Peters shares these recollections of the Tower Lounge:

Most of the gay women I decided to get to know hung out at the Tower Lounge; a women's bar I began to frequent. Located in a purposefully chosen part of Atlanta, the bar was a place where I felt safe and well connected as a lesbian in training. I would go there after leaving A.A. meetings for such reasons and, even more so, because the barflies seemed less complicated than the women in A.A. I didn't have to conform to any specific way of communicating or partake of any rituals that might have existed amongst the crowd.

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