Saturday, May 30, 2015

Club Libations

Club Libations
Club Libations
Location: 231 North Broad Street (some sites say South Broad Street), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

Opened: 1998 or before?

Closed: 2009?

From what has become my gold mine for lost lesbian bars, Clubfly:

Type: Lesbian Club
In a nutshell: A rare find and dance club for lesbians of color. Open Friday and Saturday nights...

This truly is a "rare find" as I seldom find lesbian space that is predominantly for Black women or women of color. Of course, Clubfly reports that it is now "closed," but with no date.

Here is more from Philly2Night:

A rare find and dance club for those who range from gay to straight with everything in between. This upstairs hideaway is the ultimate girls for girls' night scene. Not your typical underground finding above a Northern Italian restaurant. Known as Libations, it is a local change from popular LGBT night spots.

So we also find out that not only was this lesbian space limited in time (Friday and Saturdays only), it was limited in space, i.e. confined to the second floor--a familiar location for dedicated readers here at Lost Womyn's Space. This is a very familiar pattern existing from at least the nineteenth century and the era of ladies restaurants and ladies dining rooms, which were nearly always placed on the second floor above the "main" (men's) facilities. Also reminiscent of racial segregation in general, and the way in which Black patrons were often limited to the balconies in movie theaters.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. We may have the right to vote, the right to go to college (if you are willing to go deeply in debt), but the overall spatial pattern of pushing (limited) women's space to more marginal real estate (i.e. the second floor, which may be accessible by stairs only) remains.

GayCities adds a few more details:

Upstairs women's bar and nightclub
Dark and dive-y, this bar, upstairs from a Northern Italian restaurant is popular with ladies on the weekends. The dress is upscale.

Tags: Mostly Women, 20-somethings, 30-somethings, African American, Dancing
Fortunately, GayCities also has some customer reviews which are always nice to have. Sadly, they also document the entrenched racism/sexism that still exists in the GLBT community:
From October 2009:
coming to philly
From January 2008 (PhillyStud9):
Not what it used to be
Libations has now become the kiddie club to hang out at on Friday and Saturday night. Back in the day(1998-1999) it was great, all races, all ages. Not is just the menatlly young black crowd that is not worth the $5 cover charge....
Also from January 2008 (SoulSista):
Can we do better ?
First, Libations isn't a nightclub...its a bar that's gay on the weekend. This bar is definitely not for the mature crowd and the people there are not social at all. Most just stand against the wall with a scowl on their face. While I waited for my sweety to get her drink, I looked around the bar at all the depressed faces. My fiance and I went because we wanted to get out of the house...bored as we usually are in this city. Sadly Libations and Sister's shows the racial divide in the community. if you are looking for fun, smiling faces, diversity and great atmosphere..skip this club.
Sister's was another lesbian bar in Philadelphia--now lost as well (2013). 
And finally, here is a great narrative from April 2007 by Nigia at uwishunu:
The dramatically narrow, dark staircase at the top of Philadelphia restaurant Upstairs At Varalli, reveals that the underground scene has emerged. Located at Broad and Locust, it is a light at the end of the tunnel for Black and Latino lesbians looking for an underground scene. This upstairs hideaway is the ultimate girls for girls’ night scene. Not your typical underground finding above a Northern Italian restaurant. Known as Libations, it is a local change from popular LGBT night spots. The night club is also an alternative scene for hip-hop and R&B lovers. This club mixes up the local Philadelphia LGBT scene and puts a definite twist on Philadelphia night life.

Libations is an experience of real underground Philadelphia nightlife. The life that many thought only existed in cities like New York, D.C and Atlanta. The club blends the intimacy of a small 21 plus venue with the atmosphere of a dance heavy mega-club. The walls sweat in hip-hop and R&B rhythms that keep the crowd moving and when it dies down to a simple two-step, female bar tenders serve up the best, only to rejuvenate the crowd who always finds its way back to its dance floor.

So yeah, it is definitely not an ambiance for the mild with a cultural scene that exudes of modishly chic women and flair. This Friday and Saturday night hang-out has a sound and a style that calls for you to roll out of the house in only the best and latest attire. A style that creates a fashion playground that can range from diva avant garde to edgy androgynous. Let’s just say that with its pulsating realm and indulgence for eye catching ladies, Libations night club keeps its girls fully aroused.

Thursday, May 21, 2015



Location: 2114 South Memorial Drive, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA

Opened: 1986

Closed: October 2014?

Another long-time Midwestern lesbian bar, now lost.

A few of the "official" descriptions first:

From GayCities:

Hangout for the ladies
TNT's is one of the few (if only) spots dominated by women. Mingle with locals and enjoy the fun, welcoming atmosphere.

TNT patrons (2013)

From Clubfly:

Type: Lesbian Bar
In a nutshell: Girl bar featuring DJ's, karaoke, drag king shows and pool...

From Google+:

Tulsa's only lesbian bar!

And finally, Autostraddle:

TNT’s (2114 S. Memorial Drive) is a bigger club with a dance floor and some pool tables but sometimes there’s a cover charge. This place is a little harder to find since it’s tucked in the back of a shopping center. Drag shows are on Wednesdays (king and queen) while Thursdays are karaoke and “Butch Night Out.” I cannot personally describe to you what this “Butch Night Out” looks like. Instead, I refer you to their website where a clever poem can explain what it is all about. Yes, indeed.

Customer reviews are hard to summarize as there are 236 on TNT's Facebook page alone! Here's one of the positive ones:
TNT bartender (2012)

TNT's has been a Tulsa institution since 1986. Margarita Chandler has done an amazing job making this club a place where everyone feels welcome. Great music, always fun. You can see a show, dance, play pool or darts, or just relax, talk, and have a good time. I am very honored to have Open Hearts Revue here every 2nd Friday of the month.
The reviews at GayCities, however, are much less enthusiastic. From LKB:

Kinda like a hole in the wall, but cool if you don't mind that
Not very busy at all on a Friday night! Where's the people? Traveling for Memorial Day Weekend? Psycho regular put her hands to my throat and squeezed for NO reason! She needs to be banned or this bar will go under. Upside: All request DJ, small dance floor, FREE pool! I would go back if I didn't mind going to a smaller place and if I knew that the psycho chick wouldn't be there!

From jessie83:

drama lives here

TNT's Karaoke Night 
(October 2014)
I gave this place one star only cuz it won't take my review with out it. To start of the owner is breaking the law. She buys cheap liquor and puts it in the higher dollar bottles along with watering it all down. No one get IDed so half of the girls there r teens. Aka Baby Dykes. The only good thing they have is their trans bois show ( if they would only put the queens in that show out to pasture) this place don't pass a night without drama. So all and all not worth ur time or money.

Here's one from google+. Of course, there always has to be a lesbophobic jerk:

It is just a bunch of girls on girls?

And finally, a pretty straightforward review from yelp:

Lesbian bar. Never crowded but nice people and a dance floor and DJ.

Hard and fast closing dates are hard to come by, but the last post for TNT's on Facebook was on October 1, 2014 for a karaoke contest (see poster). So I assume it closed sometime around that time.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Kicked Back

The old Kicked Back
Kicked Back
Location: 521 Southeast 10th Avenue, Amarillo, Texas, USA

Opened: At least as early as 2009--as it is mentioned as an "also ran" for the "Best Gay and Lesbian Bar" award for that year

Closed: July 2013

Kicked Back was a lesbian bar that went straight---in a rather chilling way.

The old Kick Back

Here's what Clubfly had to say about the former Kicked Back:

Type: Lesbian Bar
In a nutshell: Under new management and no longer gay. Was "Girl bar with open mic, pool, cheap drink specials nightly and a live DJ. Happy hour every day 5pm - 7pm"...


The newly straight and
"conservative" Kicked Back
with pornified ad (2014)
Yelp fills us in on the subsequent history, after Kicked Back was closed and turned into Kicked Back Ultra Lounge and Shot Bar:


Shots are what we do. It's in our name. Let us create mixed shots and specialty drinks you won't find in the Amarillo area, while providing you with awesome customer service. Also, don't forget our pool tables and wooden dance floor. We look forward to meeting you.        


Established in 2013.
The business was closed in June of 2013 and put up for sale, and served an alternative lifestyle clientele. The business was later purchased in September 2013. With a new owner, attitude, remodel, and direction, Kicked Back Ultra Lounge and Shot Bar now serves a Conservative clientele in the downtown Amarillo area. With new improvements inside monthly, this bar will be the hottest spot in Amarillo. Listen for us on 93.1 THE BEAT with DJ Element for all upcoming events.

Kind of sends shivers up your back, doesn't it? This is a theme we have seen before, but in this case the language is far more definitive and aggressive.
Kicked Back Ultra Lounge
and Shot Bar after remodeling  (2015)

As we have observed many times before, whenever a bar (or any other entity) serves as a womyn's space--no matter how modestly, no matter how compromised--it is very likely be recolonized by the men with a vengeance.

Very typically it's in a quasi-liberal vibe of going "queer" or "gay." But in this case, even the often veiled language of the takeover is laid bare.

Kicked Back Ultra Lounge and
Shot Bar (2015)
We're unabashedly turning this place from "alternative" (which admittedly is a relatively meaningless descriptor at best in terms of a place being woman-identified) to "conservative," which makes it pretty darn clear that lesbians of any stripe, no matter how down they are with the boys, are not welcome.

This anonymous (male?) customer obviously approves the "conservative" takeover. (And notice how straight men are now defined as "everyone.") From superpages, September 2014:

Amazing bar. It used to be a lesbian bar, but it has been remodeled and new customer base. No longer a gay bar. Its everyone's bar. Building looks great and is clean. The staff is awesome. The drinks, glassware, and layout is amazing. Thank you Kicked Back.

Another thought. I was mentioning this case to my partner and how odd it was that the new owners made a point of advertising that their intended clientele was "conservative." Given that this was a huge change from a lesbian bar, she asked, why did the new owners keep part of the old name? If you were opening up a hamburger place in a former French restaurant, you wouldn't save the old name. That would just be confusing to former and future customers.

So why didn't the owners rename the bar entirely since the place was going from "lesbian" to "conservative"?

Excellent question.

When new owners of a bar, restaurant, or business continue to use the old name, it's because they want to signal to the old customers that they still welcome them, that there is some degree of continuity even if they are making improvements and changes.

But in this case, the new owners seem to be thumbing their noses at the dykes. So is this just a way to taunt the old clientele? To have women show up who didn't know of the ownership change, and just embarrass them? Harass them? Or maybe worse???

Given the stepped up backlash, especially in the south after the same-sex marriage victories, it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest. It also sends the following victory signal loud and clear: Yes, this was your space, ladies, and now we control it. We're not erasing that this was a lesbian bar. Oh, no. On the contrary, we're gleefully celebrating our conquest and stomping all over your space.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Augie's on 20th

Augie's on 20th 
Augie's on 20th

Location: 313-315 20th Street, Rock Island, Illinois, USA

Opened/Closed: 2013-2014?

Here's the clubfly description of Augie's on 20th:

Type: Lesbian Bar
In a nutshell: Notorious as a hangout for girls, save for the 1am-3am timeslot (which is occasionally packed with younger guys fresh from the Davenport LGBT strip). Some guys during the day...the venue feeds off of the neighboring bookstore and two strip clubs, which often makes for an eclectic mix of characters...

Interesting description, in that it illustrates how an identified women's space is frequently overrun by men (both gay and straight)--even though they have their own spaces where lesbians are typically not welcomed and certainly not respected even if they are admitted (e.g. gay male bars, strip clubs).

Clubfly states that Augie's is "closed," but with no date.

But as we see so often, clubfly will often identify a bar as "lesbian"--when no other bar guide or website does so.

So I suspect that this was a space that was provisionally staked out by marginalized lesbians who had no other place to go, but was never actively "dedicated" to them.

On Facebook for example, Augie's is simply described as a "barbeque restaurant" and "bar." Unfortunately, this kind of camouflage and/or ambiguity is not uncommon even with "dedicated" lesbian bars, even in the supposedly liberated 21st century. Here, Augie's status is described as "may be permanently closed." There is just one post, and that one is dated November 2013.

Clubplanet mentions an Augie's, Inc. at this location. However, once again there is nothing in the description to suggest that this is a gay/queer bar, much less a lesbian one:

Remodeled interior at 313 20th Street
Augie's Inc - Of the city’s hundreds and hundreds of bars, Augie's Inc fits right in the middle of the bell curve – a place to hit with your buddies on the way to your ultimate destination. Not the ideal spot for fabulous, drunken debauchery, but it’s a good as place as any to pre-drink.

Foursquare also lists an Augie's, and does describe it as a "gay bar." They say nothing else about it though. So what that means in terms of the women is anybody's guess. It certainly further suggests, however, that the place was not actively centered or openly identified as lesbian space.

Here we see that the building at 313 20th Street with its "Beautifully remodeled Bar" was put up for sale over a year ago. We also find out that the property was previously known as the Lucky Shamrock Bar (c. 2011-2012) In April 2015, it was purchased by the owner of Jaded Gypsy Tattoo.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Women-only parks in Swabi, Pakistan

Women-only parks
Displaced Swabi women at refugee camp
 near Swabi, Pakistan (2009)

Location: Swabi District, Pakistan

Critics often smugly tell us that the desire for women's space is "white" or "middle class" or "elitist." That it's nothing more than a dinosaur related to the second wave of western feminism. Which of course is "white" and "middle class" and "elitist." Ad nauseum.

How this lie manages to get perpetuated again and again is quite the mystery, given that there is zero evidence to support it.

Long time readers of Lost Womyn's Space know that women's space is documented in many indigenous cultures and in western cultures (broadly defined), as early as ancient Greece.

In fact, if anything, women in countries outside of Europe, Australia, Canada, and the U.S. are more unabashedly militant about demanding women's space than their western sisters. Here is an example from Swabi, Pakistan, where feminist activists are demanding women-only parks. (So technically, these parks aren't "lost" so much as they have failed to come into existence--except in the imagination and political will of dedicated women):

Swabi women demand exclusive parks

SWABI: Women political activists have expressed resentment over the successive governments’ failure to establish separate parks for women in the district.

Speaking at a function here the other day, the women activists, including PTI lawmaker Ayesha Naeem and former provincial minister Sitara Ayaz, said that parks provided a sense of pride to womenfolk.

They asked the males in Pakhtun society to treat the women as equal partners, paying attention to their requirements and providing facilities to them so they could be able to enjoy their life.

Ms Naeem said women lawmakers in the previous government didn’t take steps for establishing women only parks in the province. “Women getting elected on reserved seats should work for ameliorating the lot of their gender,” she stressed.

Speaking on the occasion, Sitara Ayaz said parks were place for women and children to come close to nature and learn from each other through interaction. “No doubt parks reflect the quality of life of a community or nation has,” she said.

Pakistan People’s Party, women wing’s district president, Naseem Akhtar said parks were places which helped the women to remain physically active and strong on one hand, and to improve community’s health on the other. “Visits to parks could help to reduce stress,” she added.

They demanded separate parks for women in the district and sought support of male lawmakers in this regard.

“The number of parks in Peshawar and other cities has cropped up,” said Ayesha Naeem, adding that women should not be confined to the four walls of their homes.

Though a women only park has been established at Tarbela Dam, no such places exist in other parts of the district.

“The park has been set up by the dam authorities at Jobi colony, having boundary wall and all the other facilities. Strict security arrangements have also been ensured so women and children could enjoy without any fear,” said Ishrat Khan, a college student. —Correspondent

Women sit together on outskirts of Peshawar
Despite the fact that Peshawar is very different than, say, Pittsburgh, the men's objections in the comment section are pretty identical to that of any similar proposal in the west. We are mansplained as to how these demands will undermine the fight for "women's rights," which of course means women must expend all their energy pleading with men to be nice and include them--hopefully with minimal threats, harassment and violence if you please.

When women bring up that women-only parks are a health and safety issue, that women can't walk, run, or exercise in heavy burkas and the like, especially in hot weather in "male" public spaces, the men waive that away too. You can't have equality and segregation! So get exercise by doing housework at home!

Really, just the same sh**, different place....In reality, they don't support women's space or "women's rights." And no serious feminist would say that one has to be chosen over the other. No real male ally is going to say, sure, we'll give you equal representation in Congress as long as you give up women's locker rooms. No one could possibly take that kind of "offer" seriously.

See the women's park tab for other examples of fights for women's parks. And notice how very similar the reasons listed are for why women wanted them--and why men objected.