Sunday, March 29, 2015

Women-only subways in China

Women-only subways in China

Location: Beijing, China

Opened/Closed: Proposal stage

Once in a while, we look at a women's space that is not "lost" but is in some other category. This one is "proposed." There are many other examples of women-only public transportation that have been implemented--always outside the so-called developed countries. Unfortunately, not a word here on what Chinese women actually think about the proposal or whether any women are taking a leadership role in developing this.

From The Journal:

Women-only subways are being considered in China

It comes after pink parking spaces – 30 centimeters wider then usual – were introduced for the alleged struggles women have parking in narrow spaces.

Jan 29 10:31 AM               

BEIJING IS CONSIDERING women-only subway cars for their packed transport system.
Over three billion people use the city’s subway every year with people often being pressed up against each other or pushed and shoved during rush hour.

Many women have reported that sexual harassment can occur while they travel on public transport.
The Wall Street Journal reports that a survey from the Canton Public Opinion Research Center last year showed that 31% of 1,500 Chinese women reported a rise in sexual harassment.
It comes after pink pained parking spaces – 30 centimetres wider then usual – were installed at a shopping centre for the alleged struggles women have parking in narrow spaces.

China’s state-run news service, Xinhua, reported that women-only subway cars during rush hour were proposed by politicians so that “women will be better respected and protected”.

Meanwhile in Malaysia – pink-colored railway cars and women-only buses have been around since 2010. A female-only taxi service was also introduced in Kuala Lumpur.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Acme Bar

Acme Bar, San Antonio, Texas
Acme Bar

Location: San Antonio, Texas, USA

Opened/Closed: c. 1961

I found out about the Acme Bar in an interview with Marie Cartier, who published a book called Baby, You Are My Religion: Women, Gay Bars, and Theology Before Stonewall. The photo (right) is also from that article.

Unfortunately, the interview says very little about the Acme, other than it was a lesbian bar. We're told that one of the women in the photo was named Carolyn Weathers, though it is not specified which one. Nor is there much explanation, at least in the interview, as to why the Acme was featured on the cover of the book or why the Acme has any particular significance, if any.

Tried googling, and came up with this first-person account called Nuevo Laredo,1961. Notice that in this story, the Acme Bar is referred to as a "gay bar." Nevertheless, it is a very lesbian-focused story. I have reproduced three paragraphs of it here, but I urge you to read it in its entirety.
My sister, Brenda, was lovers with Anita Ornelas.  Today, we would say partners, but in 1961 it was lovers.  Anita was a WAC at Ft. Sam Houston, and when she wasn’t at the barracks or the beery WAC Shack, lived with Brenda at her apartment on Army Boulevard. Terry and I had seat-of-the-pants jobs, and we were kind of seeing each other.
"She's sweet, just like you, Carolyn," Brenda and Anita would tell me, "good for you", trying to propel me away from the paregoric-snorting Adrienne, whom I was also attracted to, like a moth to bad flames.  Not just Adrienne.  The paregoric.
On Friday nights in San Antonio, all the gay people in town partied at the Acme Bar.  Saturday mornings everyone came over to Brenda and Anita's for Bloody Marys, hashbrowns, bacon and eggs, menudo laced with Brenda and Anita's homemade killer hot sauce, and gallons of coffee so strong it could march over and jump into your cup.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Women-only waterfall

Image result for tasik kenyir
Kenyir Lake
Women-only waterfall at Tasik Kenyir

Location: Tasik Kenyir Lake, Teregganu, Malayia

Opened/Closed: ???

Okay, not a "lost" place at all, but a place that is supposedly coming into being. And rather intriguing, as a woman-only waterfall is certainly a unique idea. So we're bringing it up anyway. From Huffington Post, May 6, 2014:

Men, if you want to see a stunning Malaysian waterfall, you better get there quickly.

The as-yet-to-be-determined waterfall is located at Tasik Kenyir, an artificial lake in the Northeast Malaysian state of Terengganu. Making the waterfall a spot for ladies only is part of a nearly $92 million development project, the Daily Mail reports.

Not only will the designated waterfall allow only female visitors, but boats transporting women to the waterfall and security guards at the site will all be female as well.

The single-sex area is being created as a request from female tourists in West Asia, spokesman Datuk Seri Ahmad said.

Ahmad continued to say that the women-only area is also part of an effort by the Terengganu government to create a unique tourist attraction.

Other changes coming to Tasik Kenyir include turning the area into the only duty-free lake in the world, adding passenger and cargo jetties, and constructing a hotel and water park.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Dalloway

The Dalloway - "New York's Fanciest 'Lesbian-Implied'
The Dalloway

Location: 525 Broome Street, New York, New York, USA

Opened: November 2012

Closed: October 2013

Another short-lived lesbian bar in NYC.

Here's some of what the New York Observer (Drew Grant) said in the month after it opened:

The Dalloway. . . is a gorgeous, two-story affair on Broome and Thompson. The downstairs is a mix between a lounge and a club, where every Thursday night one can find the “Girls Party”  downstairs, where gyrating models and bookish butches dance with abandon.  The night the Transom attended, Samantha Ronson was DJing, and the area around her raised booth served as the dance floor.

But it’s the upstairs that makes The Dalloway unique. It’s a restaurant with freestanding antlers on all the tables and the kind of hipster-meets-high-end vibe that makes it difficult to place on the Kinsey Scale. ( resorts to the tortured locution “lesbian implied.”)

"Lesbian implied"??? Hadn't heard this term before, but it isn't sounding good. A brand new way to explain why you're just sorta kinda committed to what is supposedly your core clientele?

The Dalloway also got a nod from AfterEllen:

Dalloway exterior
When I heard The Dalloway, a new lesbian-leaning restaurant and bar, was opening my reaction was far from enthused, but then I checked it out and I have to say I may have found the antidote to my fear of socializing.

If you’re a regular AfterEllen reader you’ll be familiar with the owners, Kim Stolz and Amanda Leigh Dunn. Kim was on Top Model a long time ago and Amanda was featured on the most recent season of The Real L Word. They met years ago through mutual friends, both felt that NYC was lacking a great hangout spot and decided to go for it.

I’m glad they did because The Dalloway is a really nice place. The kind of place you could take your mom to for dinner and then stay to binge-drink as soon as she leaves because your mom did that passive aggressive thing she does that makes you hate yourself for being gay.

At first I worried the place would be too cool for me. I mean, it’s in Soho, a neighborhood that houses designer flagship stores and spoilt teens that study instillation art at NYU. But due to my girlfriend’s insistence and my secret hope that Whitney from The Real L Word would come busting in with those huge chunky dreds and start a bar fight, I decided to check it out. Upstairs is a restaurant; all the tables were booked for the next hour, so my girlfriend and I sat in the downstairs lounge by the fireplace and enjoyed dinner while the bar slowly filled up. By the time we left at 10 the place had transformed from small gatherings of friends and the occasional stone butch blues kind of couple to a bumping dance party — and a diverse one at that: lots of cute young ladies, but also a smattering of hot dudes and some older folk.

"Lesbian leaning"?

We even scored a write-up from the veritable New York Times (by a dude again):

LESBIANS tired of the same old bars in Manhattan — Cubbyhole, Henrietta Hudson, the Stonewall Inn — have a new spot to call their own. Opened in November, the Dalloway, named after the Virginia Woolf character, is owned by two reality TV stars: Kim Stolz of “America’s Next Top Model,” and Amanda Leigh Dunn of “The Real L Word.”
Thursday, the official girls night, has already become a popular gathering on the downtown lesbian circuit. On a recent visit, the basement bar was wall-to-wall with stylish ladies in form-fitting fashions and severely hip hairstyles. The crowd is young and a bit student-y, meaning everyone is ready to have a good time. There were more than a few random acts of making out, not to mention some dirty dancing against the exposed cast-iron poles. This is not your mother’s lesbian bar.
THE PLACE Situated along the southwest edge of SoHo, near the Holland Tunnel, the bi-level space has a restaurant on the main floor and cozier bar in the basement, where most of the action takes place. Underneath a sidewalk skylight, couches are arrayed in front of a gas fireplace and faux oil lamps. There is a vaguely nautical feel to the room, enhanced by a dark wood ceiling.
THE CROWD On a recent Thursday, the bar was packed with (mostly) women who were extremely on-trend: lots of vintage Madonna looks and an abundance of Working Girl glasses. There were also some sharply dressed “lesbros” (a k a gay men who hang with their lady-friends) congregating in a darker corner by the bar. A few straight voyeurs were on hand, somewhat obvious in their corporate attire.
Oh goody! Corporate Voyeurs! Does life get any better than that or what? Makes you wonder just how little separates a place like the 1960s Kooky's (which was known for masturbating straight men clustering around the edges of the dance floor) and the Dalloway of the 2010s. 50 years of LGBT "progress"! Guess that "progress" doesn't include freedom from pervy dudes when it comes to the "L."

And finally from New York Magazine:

The fireplace and novel-stocked bookshelves in the Dalloway’s lounge give it the air of an old-world literary club, albeit one with on-trend dance music, smoky purple and pink lighting, and a glowing white sign behind the bar that reads “I’m dry.” Co-owned by Kim Stolz of America’s Next Top Model and Amanda Leigh Dunn of The L Word, weekly events here include Girls who Love Girls who Love Girls night every Thursday, and singles night on Tuesdays, at which bracelets are given out upon entry that identify one’s relationship status as single, taken, or DTF. The Dalloway resists being pigeon-holed into any one scene, and the vibe is relaxed: There’s dancing here, but there’s much more standing and chatting, or sipping pricy cocktails while lounging in leather chairs under a frosted glass roof. The bar’s name is a reference to the novel Mrs. Dalloway, and those drinks that aren’t Virginia Woolf-themed have sly names like the Paper Dart or the Middlebrow, a strange and more sophisticated cousin of the pickleback.

New York Magazine also notes that "This venue is closed"--though no date is given.

According the Dalloway website, they were in the process of "moving to a new home on the Lower East Side" and that the place would be "sexier and wilder than before." This process was supposed to take about two months. But apparently that didn't happen, as I have found nothing about this newer, sexier, and wilder location.

So what, pray tell, is the poor corporate voyeur to do?

Or to put it another way, when even an affluent, upscale place like this can't (or won't) identify as "lesbian" with no qualifications (i.e. voyeurs and predators not allowed), what hope is there for the average dive bar?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


Jacques - with 3 dudes out front

Location: 79 Broadway, Boston, Massachusetts, USA 

Opened: 1938/1939

Closed: Still open

Jacque's is a prime example of a space that was once, briefly, for lesbians--but was "appropriated" by gay men, drag queens, and trans women. This was despite the fact that it was the only lesbian bar in Boston at the time. Which just goes to show how merciless men are staking out territory for themselves while systematically squeezing out women.

And as for the time it was for men before it was for women? Generally my research has shown that this was because the location/neighborhood was considered "undesirable" by the men, so they lost interest. But as soon as the location was "hot" again, out go the women.

Notice in this first account the use of the term "evolved," which suggests their was no actual agency here. Men didn't actually make decisions that stripped lesbians of this club. It just sort of "happened"--I guess in the same way that humans became bipedal?

Nevertheless, the fact that women back in 1971 fought against the appropriation of their space is still recorded here. Which just goes to show that the women didn't see these events as some product of natural or inevitable evolution.

From (the ironically named?) Boston Equality Trail:

Opened in 1938, Jacques became a gay bar in the mid-1940s. In 1965, its owner also opened, directly across the street, The Other Side, the first discotheque in the city to allow same-sex dancing. After serving as the city's only lesbian bar from the late 1960s to the early 1970s, Jacques evolved into a venue for drag performers, which remains its focus to today.

The reason Boston's first Gay Pride March started here was to confront a number of community concerns directed at what is now the city's oldest surviving GLBT establishment, Jacques. Of primary importance to the march's organizers was the club's increasing problem with misogyny and the ill treatment of lesbian patrons.

 List of Demands read outside Jacques:

  1. That the upstairs be for women only and that all men there must be accompanied by a woman
  2. There should be easily accessible fire escapes-without locks on them.
  3. That conditions, especially in bathrooms, be made more sanitary.
  4. That we be allowed to disseminate literature of interest to the gay community inside the bar.
  5. That there be a woman bartender.
  6. That we have control of the music played in Jacques; that we be allowed to choose records to go the jukebox.
  7. That Jacques recognize a negotiation committee to implement these demands and others that come up in the future.
Perhaps without even realizing it, the lesbians were calling for a space that was very much like the 19th century "ladies restaurants." Which, tellingly, were also typically delegated to the second floor and also admitted men so long as they were "escorted" by a woman. And it's extremely distressing that women even had to demand basic health and safety code compliance--like unlocked fire doors and clean bathrooms. But even this outrage doesn't elicit any comment from our "equality trail" writer.

This second account from an article called Historians retrace Boston's LGBT history manages to depoliticize this "evolution" even further. It simply "became" a place that excluded women, without that fact being specifically acknowledged:

Jacque’s in the Bay Village opened in 1939 and was originally a bar for lesbians. It later became known for its drag shows, which it still hosts regularly. Right across the street, the owner of Jacque’s opened Boston’s first gay disco, the Other Side, which has since been torn down.

Of course, most of the venue guides bury that this was ever a lesbian bar at all. This is a typical example:

You like dressing up? How about dressing up in drag? Check out the only place in Boston to see a true drag show. There’s always something to see at Jacque’s every night of the week.

I'm not particularly surprised that (male-oriented) venue guides erase the women's history part. But the same thing even happens in guides that are supposedly designed for "queer girls." For example, this piece from Autostraddle:

If you’re looking for drag, Jacques Cabaret features drag every night of the week.

Very sad that the "queer girl" guides turn into very anemic defenses for the lack of any really lesbian-specific venues, except, perhaps, for a few nomadic parties. So we end up with lists of gay men's bars and straight places where you supposedly won't get beat up. And not a word as to how this happened or who was responsible. Just a static, empirical description of "what is" with no analysis of how "it" came to be.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Sweet Briar College

Sweet Briar College
Sweet Briar College

Location: 134 Chapel Road, Sweet Briar, Virginia, USA

Opened: 1901

Closed: 2015

Another women's college has died.

A portion of a longer article from Inside Higher Ed:

Sweet Briar Will Close

March 3, 2015
By Scott Jaschik 
Sweet Briar College announced today that it is shutting down at the end of this academic year.

Small colleges close or merge from time to time, more frequently since the economic downturn started in 2008. But the move is unusual in that Sweet Briar still has a $94 million endowment, regional accreditation and some well-respected programs. But college officials said that the trend lines were too unfavorable, and that efforts to consider different strategies didn't yield any viable options. So the college decided to close now, with some sense of order, rather than dragging out the process for several more years, as it could have done.

Paul G. Rice, board chair, said in an interview that he realized some would ask, "Why don't you keep going until the lights go out?"

But he said that doing so would be wrong. "We have moral and legal obligations to our students and faculties and to our staff and to our alumnae. If you take up this decision too late, you won't be able to meet those obligations," he said. "People will carve up what's left -- it will not be orderly, nor fair."
While all employees will lose their jobs, the college hopes to offer severance and other support. Students (including those accepted for enrollment in the fall) will receive help transferring. This semester will be the last one at the college, but it will remain officially open through the summer so that students can earn credit elsewhere and transfer it back to Sweet Briar to leave either with degrees or more credit toward degrees.

Sweet Briar officials cited overarching challenges that the college has been unable to handle: the lack of interest from female high school students in attending a women's college like Sweet Briar, declining interest in liberal arts colleges generally and declining interest in attending colleges in rural areas. Sweet Briar is in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. "We are 30 minutes from a Starbucks," said James F. Jones Jr., president of the college.
"We have moral and legal obligations to our students and faculties and to our staff and to our alumnae. If you take up this decision too late, you won't be able to meet those obligations."
--Paul G. Rice, Sweet Briar board chair
Jones said that these challenges intersected. Attracting students to a residential liberal arts college may require institutions to have extensive internship opportunities and nearby attractions. He stressed that the college's leaders and board considered every possible alternative -- including coeducation -- and concluded nothing would help in any way other than to delay the inevitable.

Sweet Briar was founded in 1901, and has operated as a women's liberal arts college throughout its history, known for small class sizes and close student-faculty interaction. The college is considered a pioneer in study abroad and operates a leading study abroad program in France. Sweet Briar's equestrian program is also nationally acclaimed.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Chez Moi

DJ Dallas and friends at Chez Moi
Chez Moi

Location: 30 Hayden, Toronto, Canada

Opened: 1984

Closed: 1989

It's not often that I find a long piece on a former lesbian bar, especially one that is well written and well researched. But this article is all that. This is just an excerpt from Then & Now: Toronto Nightlife History. I urge you to read the whole thing and check out all the great photos.

(Notice, however, that this bar became a lesbian place after it didn't "take" as a gay male place. That lesbians inherit the leftover spaces, the hand-me-downs, from the men is a theme very often seen in the study of lost womyn's space. It is also often the case that gay men will take over a lesbian bar that is considered a "desirable" space due to location, amenities, etc. )

Located a block south of Bloor and about halfway between Yonge and Church, Chez Moi was owned by the Korenowsky family. It opened as Korenowsky’s in 1942, and, for decades, operated as a tavern serving food and drinks alongside live music. Over the years, Korenowsky’s was frequented by jazz fans, postal workers, students and business crowds alike.

“My recollection is that Chez Moi was not a gay bar until the owner, Mr. Korenowsky, passed away,” recalls Rose Amato, a Chez customer who would later become close with the Korenowskys, and managed the bar for eight months. “When Mr. K was alive, they ran it as a straight jazz bar and tavern. It became gay once their son Russell started to manage it.”

Chez Moi dance floor
Russell Korenowsky Sr. passed away in September of 1983. The venue would open as Chez Moi late in 1

While it’s said the ghost of Russell Korenowsky Sr. remained in the building—Amato tells me she and others would still smell his cigars in the office—it’s also understood that Mr. K would not have approved of his family running a gay establishment. Most of the people I spoke with mention that Russell Jr.—a.k.a. Rusty, a gay man himself—convinced his mother Lynn to give the gay crowd a go.

Bonnie Meyer—a rock and R&B musician who performed with a variety of projects during The Chez’ history, including in its pre-gay days of 1984—credits Sharon Flannigan for stoking the concept of a new women’s hangout. Flannigan, who passed away from cancer early last year, was well-known in the community for having organized lesbian events, including at her east-end Saturday dancehall, dubbed Flannigan’s.

“Sharon went to Mrs. Korenowsky when it was still a straight bar, back when they did businessmen’s luncheons and then served drinks and burgers and all that through the rest of the day,” recalls Meyer. “It wasn’t that busy, so they were likely losing money.

“Sharon said, ‘If you give this bar to me over the next three weekends, I’ll pack the place.’ They said, ‘Go ahead,’ and she did exactly that. She got out her phone book and called everybody.”

“Russell did try to appeal to the gay male dance crowd, but it didn’t take,” adds longtime Chez DJ Elaine Doy. “They then hired a friend of mine, Linda Sharpe, to court the lesbian crowd, and it took off!”

Open daily, Chez Moi was always somewhat fluid. It was a sizable space, with a great outdoor patio and a daytime menu that attracted mixed lunchtime and post-work crowds. Patrons appeared more obviously gay as night fell.

“It was kind of weird,” relates DJ Julie Ley (pronounced “Lee”), who came to play Wednesdays through Sundays at The Chez in 1985, after years of entertaining at The CN Tower’s Sparkles disco, followed by a brief stint at cozy lesbian bar Togethers. “All kinds of people would go for a beer after work. By a certain point, the straight people would leave, the gay people would come in, and we’d rock the room.”