Friday, August 24, 2012

Ruby Red's

Sydney's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras on
Crown Street (1999)
Ruby Red's

Location: 273 Crown Street, Sydney, Australia

Opened: 1979

Closed: 1982

Dawn O'Donnell (1928-2007)
Ruby Red's is credited with being Sydney's first lesbian bar.

Rebecca Jennings in Lesbians in Sydney (2009) says this about Ruby Red's:

Perhaps the most popular lesbian bar of this period [i.e. the 1970s] was Dawn O'Donnell's  Ruby Red's on Crown Street. Described by a regular as 'good fun' and 'fairly dykey', Ruby Red's was frequently crowded after ten o'clock at night, with women buying drinks from the bar and others on the dance floor:

273 Crown Street today is a gay male bathhouse
and cruise bar called Headquarters
It was disco in the early part of the disco era and the changing colours in the dance floor and the strobe lighting and the mirror balls and all of those sort of things, which now are retro and they laugh at them, but it was fun.

And from the Sydney's Pride History Group:

A "girls only" venue.  Entry was up a very thin stairwell, thee [sic] was a bar straight ahead, then a dance floor and another bar out the back. Owned by Dawn O'Donnell and Roger Claude Tesseydre.

Dawn O'Donnell was a fascinating character--a nightclub owner, an activist, and even a professional speed skater. See her obituary in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Today, the space formerly occupied by Ruby Red's is....wait for it...a gay male bathhouse and cruise bar called Headquarters.

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