Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Bon Ton Cafe Ladies Cafe

Bon Ton Cafe Ladies Cafe

Location: Jackson, Mississippi, USA

Opened/Closed: c. 1917

Here's an ad for a ladies cafe in Jackson, Mississippi from October 1917. Needless to say, all the usual caveats about race and social/economic class apply. Still, what a menu!

Bon Ton Cafe 21 Oct 1917 - 50c -SPECIAL SUNDAY DINNER-50c ", . - AT BON...
Jackson Daily News (Jackson, Mississippi) - Oct. 21, 1917

Wednesday, July 11, 2018


The former Redz --2218 East First Street

Location: 2218 East First Street, Los Angeles, California, USA

Open: Late 1950s

Closed: 2015

From the Los Angeles Conservancy

Located in Boyle Heights, Redz is estimated to have first opened in the late 1950s and operated until 2015. For over fifty years, this popular lesbian bar catered to a predominantly Mexican and Mexican American clientele.

Over the course of its history, the bar's name evolved from Redheads to Reds to, most recently, Redz. It opened at a time when working-class lesbian bars were on the rise around Los Angeles, particularly in Westlake and North Hollywood. It represented an important intersection of race, class, gender, and sexual identity.

Though the bar closed its doors in 2015 and its appearance has been altered, it continues to represent an important story within Los Angeles' lesbian community.

Here's a great photo of the Redz from the LA Eastside blog. The blogger is clearly not a lesbian, as lesbian existence is clearly invisible to this individual: 

"I think someone said this was a gay paisa bar but I don’t know the picture of the hot girl is throwing me off." 

'Cause all "gays" are men, ya know. 

Photo of Redz Bar - Los Angeles, CA, United States. During your taco crawl stop for a beer with Chucky and the Grim Reaper.

And, of course, lesbian bars almost always have THAT yelp review. The one where some straight person decides to be intrusive, then gets bent out of shape about something or other. In this case, it was a straight girl using her boyfriend as "a shield" against, well, whatever it was that she needed shielding against. From Maggie in 2013:

[W]e come across Redz Bar which is a couple blocks down from Mariachi Plaza and I know it's open because there's some loud paisa music blasting from the shut door. I see a ferocious, heavy woman in a bright blue dress walk out with her music box and I realize I missed the cabaret show on Sundays that start at 8:30.

The bar is mysteriously yet cautiously dark, with Spanish music ranging from Reggaeton to Enrique Iglesias playing from a record player. I look up, and the ceiling is covered in records with glimmers of light shining from the tacky disco ball. I expect the usual looks from middle aged Mexican men staring down a gringa who so happens to love her Micheladas. I use my guy best friend as a shield to repel any sort of contact because I'm here for a drink, but a conversation with the best friend is out the door because the music is ear numbingly loud.

It turns out that Maggie is so unbelievably dense that she manages to convince herself that this is an "underground brothel." She just can't believe that the bartender was refusing to serve this man who was sitting next to (harassing) this "promiscuous, young woman wearing a very skimpy dress." This just doesn't make sense!