Tuesday, February 14, 2012



Location: 4100 Manchester Avenue, St. Louis, Missouri, USA

Opened: 1988

Closed: Early 2012?

Playing with a title here. The Life of a Lesbian Bar in Three Acts: As Illlustrated by the "Best Lesbian Bar" Awards She Wins.

All right, I know. The title's not catchy in the slightest. Definitely needs to be tinkered with. But I think you get the gist of the idea.

In looking at the "Best Lesbian Bar" awards that Attitudes won in 2006, 2008, and 2010--and the write-ups that came with them--there seems to be a strong narrative progression: from strongly lesbian identified to, eh, maybe not so much. It's a pattern we've seen with lesbian bars before, either in response to financial pressures, changing socializing patterns, or just out-and-out invasion by other groups. 

You know what I mean by invasion, right? Straight men looking for a place to party and hassle the queer girls. Or to pick up bi/straight girls, since the bi/straight girls migrated to the lesbian bar to find a place to dance without being groped. Or gay/bi men looking for a novel place to go, 'cause God knows, having 25 gay male bars for every lesbian bar is just not enough! And before you know it, the lesbians are squeezed out, and the place becomes a lesbian bar in name only. Worse than that, it becomes a bar that some young or inexperienced lesbians think is a lesbian bar, so they develop a false sense of security. That can lead to problems with violence that are even worse than the straight bars. Why? Because the claim that they are "lesbian" can attract predators like moths to a backporch light.

So let's look at those Three Acts, shall we?

Back in 2006, when Attitudes first won the "Best Lesbian Bar" award from Riverfront Times, she was seemingly a lesbian bar from the tips of her chipped fingernails right down to her grubby little toes:

Attitudes is the Sandra Bernhard of lesbian bars: A little bit dirty and a little bit crass. Untamed and wild-eyed, teeth smudged with lipstick. When legs curl around its go-go cage bars it exudes sexiness, but it can intimidate, too, what with its raised-seating perimeter, which allows patrons to judge the moves on the scuffed dance floor. It has a cult following and a sense of humor; it's comical in its abrasiveness. It owns its kitsch and smirks at those who take themselves too damn seriously. It probably made out with Madonna in the '80s. It makes a commentary on sexuality but then breaks into a Britney Spears medley before the crowd grows weary. It's an excuse for bad behavior. It's St. Louis' best lesbian bar.

When she won the same award in 2008, however, it sounds like she was veering towards the "mixed" end of the spectrum:

Drag shows. Free darts and pool on Wednesdays, $2 beers all night on Tuesdays. The go-to watering hole for generations of the St. Louis gay/lesbian/transgender community. Despite its longevity, Attitudes ain't no stuffy old museum of queer culture. The old girl still vibrates with hip-hop and a diverse spectrum of lesbian clientele, from the urban to the old-school Melissa Etheridge T-shirt-wearing crowd. And make no mistake: Attitudes welcomes all comers. Especially if you like to dance.

And as she passed her 20-year mark, and was picking up the 2010 "Best Lesbian Bar" award from the Riverfront Times, a certain irony is immediately evident: Attitudes was sounding less and less "lesbian" as such.

This old girl, which has been comfortably ensconced in the Manchester strip in the Grove for more than twenty years, is about as friendly as a place can be, even if it's got a cage hanging in the back of the room. That's for dancing, by the way, which is what you come to Attitudes to do — that, and drink. Here, it doesn't matter if you're young or old, straight or gay, a drag king or queen or someone who just likes sparkly shoes. Even on weeknights, the place is jumping, one of the best parties in town.

So what do other sources tell us? Basically we see the same range of responses. When GayCities reviewed her, Attitudes was unambiguously lesbian, though of course "open to everyone."

Lesbian pub, cafe, and club
This neighborhood bar and dance club has a great energy and a diverse crowd. It is open to everyone, and features themed nights including karaoke and country line dancing.

We see something similar at clubplanet, though it appears that the drag queens are starting to muscle in on the scene. And there's a special "themed" night for the boys, because lord knows, the poor dears are so underserved in the St. Louis community: 

Attitudes - That’s right, for you ladies who like the ladies, and even for some of their fans, here's where you can go to meet your fellows. There's a C&W-themed night for the boys but this place is primarily for the girls. Drink specials, a dance floor and drag queens abound.

Then there's this description from citysearch:

The Scene – Though Attitudes is primarily a lesbian bar, the boys are more than welcome and the crowd is usually mixed. Inside you'll find a pub, a cafe and a club, though the dance floor's not huge. – – What to Do – Tuesday features darts, Wednesday has karaoke and Thursday's pool tournament night. There's a happy hour on the weekends, plus more karaoke and country line dancing on Friday night. All this and food, too--the cafe's got a new menu and serves from 7pm-1am.

Pondering this now....Is there a subtle difference or shift between being 1) a "lesbian" bar but "open to everyone" and 2) a "primarily lesbian" bar where "the boys are more than welcome" and "the crowd is usually mixed"? The latter doesn't even make a lot of intuitive sense. How can your be "primarily" lesbian if you're "usually mixed"? Even if lesbians make up of a numerical majority of patrons most of the time--and that's a big if--that doesn't necessarily make the bar "primarily" lesbian. To me, "primarily" sets a tone, a mood, and an expectation--it's not just an arbitrary standard of arithmetic. In other words, I'm not sure that 51 - 55 percent lesbian would necessarily get the job done. It may not represent enough critical mass.

This review from napkinnights shows a similar ambivalence and confusion:

Geared mostly toward a lesbian clientele, gay and straights are also welcome to this St. Louis bar. The club is sectioned off for a café, bar and dance area which makes it convenient to wander around to scope out the crowd without anyone knowing. Each night features a different activity from darts and pool to karaoke and country line dancing. St. Louis gays and lesbians come every night to enjoy the live DJ spinning great dance music after all the events end in the early evening. The drinks taste good and are strong at the same time, plus there's a cage to dance in. Those two things might not seem to go together, but give the drinks a try and it will make sense.

But in this review, we don't even bother to go through the hair-splitting, and ultimately metaphysical definitions of a "lesbian" bar (i.e. if only two lesbians are left in a bar, can it still be called "lesbian"? What if they're dancing on the head of pin?) We just report that Attitudes is a LGBT bar or "Gay and Lesbian Night Club" and call it a day:

The Grove is host to many alternative night clubs, but none quite like Attitudes. As St. Louis' oldest LGBT nightclub, this veteran hotspot certainly knows how to throw a party. Wednesday nights feature karaoke and a $10 all-you-can-drink special, while hip-hop night is the best way to bounce 'til 3 a.m. on Thursdays; Friday night drag shows are followed by a non-stop all night dance party on Saturdays. Between rounds of cutting a rug in the cage or on the dance floor, try the "Dueling DJ" or the "Diamond," two of the wettest, wildest concoctions 'tudes has to offer. There's a reason why Attitude's has oft been voted "St. Louis' Best Gay and Lesbian Night Club" -- it's a consistently energetic place for party people of all ages and orientations. Any of the uber-friendly staff members can tell you that. Just make sure that you keep any drama under wraps, or you might see an even sassier side of them. After all, it is called "Attitudes" for a reason.

The yahoo (travel) review is very similar to the one above, except we just say "gay and lesbian" bar (i.e. mixed) with a "large" crowd of straights (well, at least we're truthful):

One of St. Louis' most popular gay and lesbian bars, Attitudes also attracts a large straight crowd. It's a great place to relax and is a favorite after-work stop. The bar hosts eight televisions for sports fans to watch while relaxing over a glass of frosty beer. The large dance floor invites everyone to unwind and move to the music played by the disc jockey. Surrounding the dance floor are raised seats, mirrors and many lights. There's music here for everyone, from country to rock to golden oldies. For those who are not into dancing, there are dart games, a jukebox and karaoke. A small kitchen serves a few light items and burgers until closing on the weekends. Entry is restricted to persons over the age of 21.

So let's go down to the grassroots and see what the patrons report. Who was really at this bar, and how many of them were there? Just what was this place? Apart from all the complicated syntax and qualifiers, did anybody in the trenches ever consider this place a plain old lesbian bar? This time, just to mix it up a bit, we'll do this in reverse chronological order:

From GayCities, December 2011:

Its a mixed crowd with equal guys and girls.

From GayCities, June 2011:


From GayCities, June 2011:

over the years slowly fallen down hill and is now a wee bit getto

From yelp, April 2010:

There were transvestites -- lots of them!  I saw a large cross-dresser wearing an bright orange halter top, in which his man-boobs served the place of female boobs.  It was pretty glorious.  People were very uninhibited and just doin all sorts of wild stuff on the dancefloor.

From yelp, February 2010:

Though I'm straight and this is a gay bar, I've spent numerous a drunken nights dancing with the transvestites, some of which who look better than me, an authentic woman... and drinking with my girlfriends and gay friends and dancing the night away.

From yahoo (local), February 2010:

The bar seems to cater now towards the hip hop ethnic crowd.

From Voice Places, May 2009:

go-to watering hole for generations of the St. Louis gay/lesbian/transgender community

From Voice Places, January 2009

very welcoming gay bar. lots of straight people go here

From yelp, September 2008:

The crowd is very eclectic

From yahoo (travel), February 2008:

the people are great weather you are straight or gay or bi like me

From GayCities, February 2008:

The crowd was a little bit of everything--men and women of all ages.

From yahoo (local), December 2007:

Go in drag or in all leather it doesn't matter

From yahoo (travel), April 2005:

awesome place for gays/lesbians

From Citysearch, March 2004:

Crowded, broad age and orientational diversity

Lots of changes over the years...seems that over time, Attitudes acquired more gay men, transgender folks, and straights, and became somewhat more popular with African Americans (note quasi-veiled, racist references to "getto" and "hip hop" crowd). 

What you DON'T much see is that this was a lesbian place of any ethnicity or race. In fact, about  the only grassroots acknowledgement I have found that this was once a lesbian place comes from hawkeyes. By her account, Attitudes was no longer a lesbian place by June 2008:

i used to love attitudes but it has gone down hill,it used to be mostly lesbians and now it is to much of a mix of straight people and are younger and clickish and they dont make new people very welcome,you are losing alot of buissness to novak's we need to keep the lesbian bars alive because they are to few and far between. they need to cater more to the lesbian crowd with lesbian shows and events

Of course, the management did not heed hawkeyes' advise, as I see no real evidence that they ever courted or catered to their lesbian clientele in subsequent years.

According to a couple of websites, Attitudes is now closed, but no closing date is provided.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Kitty Kat Klub

Kitty Kat Klub
Kitty Kat Klub poster

Location: St. Louis, Missouri, USA

Opened: 1962?

Closed: 1960s? 70s?

I discovered the Kitty Kat Klub in a 2011 Riverfront Times article entitled "Treasure Hunters Seeking LGBT History." Unfortunately, nothing is really said about the Kitty Kat Klub. We're only provided with a reproduction of this wonderful poster (which we show here). The only explanation is a single caption accompanying the poster: "An old St. Louis lesbian bar poster."

Documentation of this place is sorely lacking. The St. Louis LGBT History Project includes the Kitty Kat Klub in its list of former St. Louis lesbian and gay bars and clubs, but no additional information is provided.

The only real discussion I have found of the St. Louis Kitty Kat Klub--not to be confused with the Minneapolis Kitty Kat Klub--is this one from November 2005, by a blogger named Rebecca:

Tuesday the 8th my Best friend Carrie came from St. Louis, Missouri to see me here in Michigan.  It was awesome just to hang out with her!  It is so cool how we haven't seen each other in like a year and everything is still the same with us!  I loved reminising with her about our old days with the Kitty Kat Klub....or maybe we should call it Citty Cat Club cause if we do it with K's it spells out KKK lol :)

Sharon at St. Louis Lesbian History mentions a lesbian bar called the Kit Kat that was founded in 1962. Regretfully, there are no other details. Same place?

Saturday, February 4, 2012


823 Walnut Street

Location: 823 Walnut Street, Kansas City, Missouri, USA

Opened: March 1, 2002

Closed: 2003

Push is one elusive lesbian bar. She shows up on some out-of-date websites listing (usually defunct) Kansas City gay watering holes, but not on others.

GLBTcentral does mention Push--along with a lot of other dead Kansas City lesbian bars like Tootsie's and Wetherbee's--but unfortunately all they tell us is that she's "Mostly Women; Lesbian Owned/Operated." Come on, people! We need details! Have some pity on the herstorians of tomorrow! Show us some love!

Gaytalk does a slightly better job. By navigating through their swarm of confusing symbols, we can decipher that Push is mostly women, that there is a dance floor, that it's a sports bar, that it has pool tables, that it has darts, and that its primary music is techno. Any questions?

But then the confusion starts. Gaygetter tells us that Push is a (mixed) "gay karaoke bar." Really?

So. Must dig deeper.

Oh! Here's an interesting factoid. The structure in which Push was located, the Waltower Building, was placed on the National Registry of Historical Places in 2001. Given that so many lesbian bars are stuck in raggedy @$$ ugly buildings, that is certainly noteworthy indeed.

A 2002 Kansas City Business Journal article on downtown Kansas City's reviving nightlife provides us with a few more useful details. We now know when Push opened for business--and the name of one of the co-owners:

"There'd been nothing to do Downtown for such a long time that people didn't consider coming down here at night," said Jill Schultze, co-owner of Push, which opened March 1 at 823 Walnut St. "But that's definitely changing."

But apparently the downtown scene wasn't changing fast enough to support a lesbian bar. (Though to be fair, a non-GLBT drinking establishment, the Stark Bar, had previously struggled and failed at that location.) Within a year or so, Push was out the door.

In a Kansas City forum, an interested citizen inquired as to her fate. This was in September 2003:

I noticed this week that the first floor-level space at 823 Walnut, formerly PUSH Bar, has been completely gutted. Does anyone know what's happening with that building? It's next to Scarritt Arcade and across the street from the old Fidelity/federal office building that is being converted into high-end apartments.

The correct answer, as it turns out, was that 823 Walnut was also being turned into housing. It is now Waltower Lofts.

Friday, February 3, 2012




Location: 2510 Northeast Vivion Road, Kansas City, Missouri, USA

Opened: 2004 at latest, and probably earlier

Closed: Around 2010 or 2011

Gaycities informs us that Wetherbee's is "mostly women" and that it's "a good place to hang out, shoot some pool and enjoy a few drinks." Kind of a Kansas City neighborhood dyke dive north of the river.

Fair enough. But it's hard to find many reviewers who concur with these points.

In a Gaycities customer review from September 2009, two local gay men seemingly affirm that yes, this was a women's bar. But as a drinking establishment, Weatherbee's didn't measure up to their exacting standards--though it might be "okay" enough for dykes (thanks, guys!):

If your a lesbian, then this bar is okay, but for gay men, forget it. It is located a LONG way North from downtown Kansas City and from all the other gay bars. Have been there three times and never again. They also have a cover (for absolutely NO reason).

As a point of geography, this is actually a noteworthy observation. Especially in the American midwest, lesbian bars are often pushed out of the "more desirable" (expensive) downtown "gayborhood" locations where the boys' bars are located. So they end up in "less desirable" (cheaper) sites in rundown strip malls on the outskirts of the city or in the deteriorating inner-ring suburbs.

Despite all that, it's interesting that other Gaycities reviewers didn't necessarily recognize Wetherbee's as a lesbian bar at all.
Wetherbee's interior (2010)

Take this assessment from March 2009:

There is a mixed could [crowd?] of people there's gay, lesbian, and straight. Only thing is the club is very grouped and every group stays to themselves.

Or this one from August 2009:

younger crowd very mixed group, straight

Over at Clubplanet, the reviewers weren't sure what kind of bar Wetherbee's was...since the spot was often deserted.

From April 2008:

went there about 9:30 stayed until 10:30 or so bartender was very nice but place was empty and i do mean empty bartender tolld me they wouldnt get people realy until midnight or so then would be busy till 3am closeing so if your an early bird like me it wont be worth it if you can hold out for midnight looked like it could be a fun spot

(The comment above reads more like free verse poetry than a bar review, but I digress....)

From August 2009:

I don't know what this place is. Some say it is a gay joint. I think the only way you would know for sure is if anyone showed up at this place. For a nightclub of whatever kind it is just about as dead as it gets.

There is some evidence that Wetherbee's was more popular as a lesbian bar earlier in the decade. For example, it gets an affirmative nod in a butch-femme forum in August 2004:

if you live (or are) up north of the river, check out Weatherbee's. I've certainly had some fun times there....although, I never can seem to get a pool table. ;)

Nearly two years later, it was still rated as a "great Lesbian hangout." From yahoo in May 2006:

Great Lesbian hangout: This is THE place for lesbians in KC. There are all types of us there. It's great to have a fun, energetic social sceene. Food, drink, pool, darts, dancing, and the occasional show!

So what happened? Like Tootsie's, another former Kansas City lesbian bar, it seems that Wetherbee's was overtaken by sleezy straight dudes and the lesbians stopped coming. A commenter from August 2006--just three months later--documented the transition. This is also from yahoo:

Its not the safest place to go.: The club use to a be a great place to go and dance with no worries of of anyone bothering you or any problems. But lately I dont go because of all the guns and fight. I dont like to go out and have someone just grab me. I dont feel safe any more. And that is sad because a like the staff and the music. Now its more straight men. And they need to go to there own bars and let us have a few bars that we can be ourselves.

It's enough to make you throw up your hands in despair.

Gaycities does report that Wetherbee's is now closed, though no date is provided. The last customer comment I find is dated 2011; the earliest are from 2004. So I presume that Wetherbee's existence spanned those years at a minimum.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Sports Page

2069 Cheshire Bridge Road today

Sports Page

Location: 2069 Cheshire Bridge Road, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Opened/Closed: 1970s - 1980s

In her memoir, Matty McEire conjures up a wonderful story about her first trip from Asheville, North Carolina to Atlanta, Georgia and the Sports Page. I'm guessing this was around 1976 or so:

None of us knew our way around Atlanta at all, but for some reason, I always had an uncanny sense of navigation, so I was able to get us to all our destinations with minimal backtracking or sudden u-turns. We knew that the bar was on Cheshire Bridge Road, so I got off at that exit. We checked into the cheapest hotel we could find right next to the interstate. It had taken us four hours to get to Atlanta, so it was prime bar time when we arrived--eleven p.m. We freshened up a bit and put on our best lesbian bar clothes. Since summer had arrived, the flannel shirts, jeans, and boots of winter had been replaced by overall shorts, t-shirts, and sneakers, preferably Adidas.

The bar was easy to find. The Sports Page had a big sign with its name on it right out front, a gigantic but rapidly filling parking lot, and a very visible front door. This was a far cry from our obscure, back-alley After Dark. The mountain dykes had definitely hit the big city! It took us no time at all to find our way inside, order some beers, and secure a table for six. At first we all just sat there, open-mouthed I'm sure, taking it all in. A few men were there with their lesbian friends, but we were definitely in a lesbian bar--lesbian bartenders, lesbian DJ, lesbian bouncer, and lots and lots of lesbians everywhere you looked. No drag queens on the dance floor--just dykes! It took us a little while to get acclimated. It felt like we had just landed on another planet somewhere in a distant matrilinear galaxy. I was yanked out of my stupor when the DJ cranked up the volume on the Sylvers' "Boogie Fever" and Red Clover grabbed my hand and boogied us right out into the middle of the dance floor. The others followed, and that's where we spent most of the next few hours. We danced until closing time. I really had to laugh when we went out to the parking lot, and there sat the Asheville Y van, one of the only vehicles left in the lot--just a little conspicuous. I hoped no one else from Asheville happened to be on Cheshire Bridge Road that night.

Apart from the good times, the Sports Page played a prominent role in gay/lesbian history, specifically in the struggle against AIDS. As David Roman explains,

In Atlanta, one of the city's most successful early fundraisers was the June 20, 1983, lesbian-organized Sportspage benefit. Sportspage, the oldest lesbian bar in Atlanta, held a seven-hour entertainment marathon, with no "star power" to speak of, and raised over $3,000 for AID Atlanta. This lesbian-sponsored production, held in support of gay men, was the earliest lesbian-produced benefit for AIDS in the country.
Sports Page Reunion (2011)

Hmm. It would be interesting to know the earliest gay men-produced benefit for a lesbian healthcare or social service cause. Or whether one has ever taken place....

On September 24, 2011, a Sports Page reunion was held at the Heretic, a gay men's bar that now occupies the Sports Page's former location. (What an irony that after Sports Page did so much for the gay men's community, that their space was ultimately taken over by yet another gay men's bar.) This was apparently the second reunion that had been held for Sports Page's loyal patrons.

Postscript Feb. 21, 2012: Last weekend, my girlfriend and I were visiting Atlanta and we happened to stop by this place. It was awful, and we were the only women there. We left as soon as we finished our drinks.

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.

Revolution (Atlanta, Georgia)

1492 Piedmont Avenue Northeast, #B today

Location: 1492 Piedmont Avenue Northeast, #B, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Opened/Closed: Mid 1990s

The description at Clubplanet is so brief as to be almost meaningless:

Revolution - Large gay bar and club: crowd is mostly lesbian.

That's about all I've dug up. And the only reason I ever found out about Revolution in the first place is that it's mentioned in a January 2012 article called "Why can't Atlanta sustain lesbian bars?"

Of course, the article mulls over the same laments we've seen in cities all over the country, if not the world, over the past few years. Lots of possibilities are tossed out as to why lesbian bars are in such short supply these days, but no overarching theory is proposed--which is fair enough.

Today, the location is occupied by Mixx, a "mixed" gay bar.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Paris Decatur

Paris Decatur
Paris Decatur

Location: 308 West Ponce De Leon Avenue, Decatur, Georgia, USA

Opened: April 8, 2007

Closed: March 27, 2010

As we often see here at Lost Womyn's Space, establishing that a bar is/was "lesbian" and during what time period(s) is not necessarily an easy task. Paris Decatur is yet another example of this basic conundrum.

Take this September 2007 review from Citysearch which appeared just a couple of months after Paris Decatur opened her doors. After perusing this, you feel pretty sure that yes, Paris Decatur was one groovy lesbian space. Okay, the men were "welcomed" and all that (as they nearly always are in bars), but the spotlight was still clearly on the ladies:

After the closing of My Sister's Room, the women who love women in Decatur, were left without a nightspot of their own. Enter Paris-Decatur, in the old Supper-Club spot. Still cozy, warm vibe, and a place to get a nice drink with friends, or to meet new ones. Tuesday nights, are Paris Idol nights. Fun girlz, and they have Thursdays for the boyz of Decatur. But men are always welcomed here. Just a great bunch of gals, in one of Atlanta's best hoods! Sunday Brunch is coming soon.
  • Pros: Decatur's Best Spot For Womyn, Who Love Womyn!
  • Cons: Not Open On Mondays, But The Girlz Need Their Rest!
Then there's this review from December 2007 (also from Citysearch). This one also makes Paris Decatur sound like one great womyn's space:

Awesome alternative bar! soft decor and romantic
a place to meet women or just come and be yourself
Dance floor, pool room, gourmet appetizers.
  • Pros: Great crowd, nice atmposphere
  • Cons: none
We see similar overall themes in this review from July 2008, except that the place now appears more "mixed" than lesbian. Did the dudes go from merely being "welcomed" to taking over?

The grand dames of Decatur are saying "Oui, Oui" to this hot entry into the Eastside nightlife scene. A mod and cozy spot, there is nothing Hilton about this popular stand-in for the city's once hallowed lesbian bar, My Sister's Room. With none of the foliage or freaky fringe of the former, this spot is more hip and hot than its predecessor and makes for an exciting evening under the lights. A mixed crowd mingles here on weekends, sipping tantalizingly mixed cocktails in the snug bar area or nibbling gourmet appetizers with friends around a smattering of tables. After a few drinks, its time to take a turn on the diminutive dance floor to pop and Top 40 DJ sounds as well as more than few blasts from the past. During the week, Paris lures revelers with offerings such as open mic nights, wine tastings and always-popular karaoke.

At yelp, there is one review of Paris Decatur from 2008, and two from 2009. None of them even hint that this is a lesbian place, though it is generally classified as a "gay bar." The myspace page defines this place as an "alternative" bar, which to my mind, is vague in the extreme.

But just as soon as you figure that the place went "gay" or "mixed" over time, you find contradictory evidence. Like this review from August 2009 that refers to Paris Decatur as a "lesbian hangout" that "welcomes all." Deja vu all over again?

Nestled between Natalie's Fish House and the Christian Science Reading Room in a small, bustling shopping center in downtown Decatur is a club called Paris Decatur. Walk through the door and you will find a long bar with sitting areas decorated with a kitschy assortment of chairs, couches, and tables. The place is reminiscent of a New Orleans Brothel or a parlor from the 1920s. Tour further back and you will come across a decent sized dance floor with a makeshift stage to one corner; the place is surprisingly large given the outside indicates otherwise. Move further back through the doors to the left of the dance floor and you will come across a deck with a sitting area used for smoking (Paris is a smoke-free bar). Commonly thought of as a lesbian hangout, Paris Decatur welcomes all to attend. The club hosts special events, serves a variety of food, and most importantly, is open and serving until 4 a.m. So if you live in Decatur and don't want to stray to far from home, drop by the only game in town.

Then when she finally shuttered her doors for the last time, she's once again described as an "Atlanta lesbian bar." Except when she's referred to as "GLBT bar." Confused yet? From GA Voice:

Paris Decatur, the LGBT bar at 308 Ponce  de Leon Ave., will shut its doors after a final show on March 27, owner Susan Bird announced today.

“It has been a great run, and I have learned a lot.  I have had great support from my friends, and I have met so many interesting and wonderful people that I now feel privileged to call my friends,” Bird said in a press release.

Bird asked the club’s supporters to visit on March 20, 26 and 27 “to say goodbye and have one last drink with me.”

So what happened? Project Q explains the demise of Paris Decatur in a little more detail. Seems that Paris Decatur had problems connecting with her lesbian base in a consistent way. Doesn't sound like the strip mall location helped matters either:

Just nine weeks after the Bodyshop and Stage Door hosted their last hoorahs, the lesbian-owned Paris Decatur announces that it’s out of gay Atlanta’s nightlife picture after a final weekend on March 26-27. 

Paris Decatur interior
"It’s over! Thanks to everyone who supported Paris for the last three years,” owner Susan Bird tells Facebook followers of the bar. “It’s time to move on.”

Other than the “Sukeban!” parties, which had a loyal niche following, the bar in a Decatur strip mall struggled to get patrons through the door on a regular basis.

Bird & Co. tried everything from Boys Nights to special events and drastic drink specials. Some of those ideas worked as one-off successes, but on regular nights, the bar drew increasingly few to its cute, comfortable atmosphere and friendly vibe.

“I met some incredible people owning this bar, and I will miss that,” Bird continues in her statement. “We had some fabulous times…memorable at least!”


Belissima exterior


Location: 560-B Amsterdam Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Opened: Spring 2008

Closed: January 11, 2012

Here's the lady's coy self-introduction on Myspace:

We are located in the heart of midtown in the old 'Miss Q's' space in Amsterdam Walk off Monroe Drive, around the corner from Piedmont Park. You have to see it to believe it! Bellissima is a Beautiful new...hot...sexy...smoke-free...Midtown Lounge where everyone is welcome! Available for private events, and meetings.

Well, that tells us...nothing.

We read on:

Bellissima is a great venue where the guys and girls party together! FINALLY.... What Atlanta has been missing! What a face lift! We are so excited to present to you... Bellissima!

Okay. So we're a mixed place? (As if there were a shortage of places "where the guys and girls party together." Since when?) Not only that, we're a mixed place with a lot of exclamation marks!!!

But wait!!! Buried in one of the ads dotting the MySpace page is the following line:

VOTED "BEST PLACE TO MEET WOMEN" (Turns out that was in 2010.)

Hmm. Let's just say our identity is a bit, uh, conflicted? Not unusual among (ostensibly) lesbian bars, where attracting paying male customers is not only considered highly profitable but desirable, given that Dudes are so much higher in the Kewl Factor that just gals are.

I'd pass this by as a women's bar, except that other parties DO identify it as a lesbian space. Which is a strange phenomena we've seen before with lesbian bars. Maybe it's akin to the woman who is deeply closeted about being gay, even while all her friends know.

Anyway, here's an early review from Andrew Collins at about.com. And he definitely uses the "L" word:  

A swish new spot east of Piedmont Park on Amsterdam Avenue (on the right, before you get to the large building that contains Amsterdam the gay sports bar), Bellissima is just the elegant but totally fun lesbian bar that Atlanta had been lacking. The spacious club with a nice-size dance floor draws a steady mix of well-coiffed, stylish women (and more than a few gay guys who appreciate the cool vibe), tending toward the under-30, professional set. A variety of theme events (Latin nights, '80s retro parties) keep things interesting. Bellissima has quickly become not only one of the hot spots in town but also one of the country's most happening lesbian clubs.

Aol Travel also clearly identifies Belissima as a lesbian space:

Bellisima is another hidden gem in the Amsterdam Avenue complex and among the hip Atlanta gay scene. Unlike other popular lesbian bars like My Sisters Room in East Atlanta, Bellisima is not a place you would stumble upon unless you were looking for it. This wine and tapas bar has an eclectic and cool vibe with artwork adorning the walls, an extensive wine list and a variety of decent small bar plates. The best part of Bellisima besides the bevy of beauties cued up at the bar, is the strong drinks served up by the more than hospital bartenders who are not afraid to give you an extra kick in your cocktail.

As does this little blurb from Atlanta Magazine:

Bellissima With an interior design fond of vine motifs and ovular light fixtures, this lesbian lounge has DJ Duck on Saturdays and serves the best cocktails. Ask for bartender Toni and order a fruity, whiskey-based Group Hug.

But the owner couldn't keep it happening in a good way. Or at least had lost the desire to keep it happening in a good way. As Project Q reported back in November 2011:

Bellissima, a smoke-free Midtown mainstay of lesbian nightlife for more than three years, is up for sale as its owner seeks a respite from the grind of operating at bar hours and the gyrations of a troubled economy. Anna Ragghianti says that after three years of nightlife fun – from hosting Bedlam to comedy shows, drag shows, gay business mixers and her usual mix of lesbians seeking cocktails and dance – she’s ready to move on, travel and work on film projects she’s otherwise had to take a pass on.

“It is a great location and I think the community needs something like Bellissima,” Ragghianti says.

“Whoever bought it could open it pretty quickly and not dump a lot of money or time into it. My heart wants to keep it in the gay community.”

The bar, which opened in spring 2008, has been up for sale “for some time,” Ragghianti says, but she recently reduced the price to $79,000. She doesn’t own the property on which the bar sits in Amsterdam Walk, so the price tag comes with an additional $4,000 monthly rent.

And then on January 11, 2012, it was announced that Bellissima was closed:

Anna Ragghianti, owner of the now shuttered Bellissima, announced on Facebook Wednesday her nightclub of three years has closed.

Ragghianti told Project Q in November, she was going to sell the bar because she wanted “to move on, travel and work on film projects she’s otherwise had to take a pass on.”

Today, Ragghianti informed her most loyal followers that she was unable to sell Bellissima due to issues with securing a lease for a potential purchaser.

Bellissima interior (2010)
“We were excited to have a contract with a new owner who planned to take rains as soon as possible, keeping it as Bellissima,” Ragghianti said in the Facebook post. “Unfortunately, Halpern Enterprises has informed us that they will not sign a lease with the new owner.”

Halpern Enterprises is Amsterdam Walk’s developer and Bellissima’s landlord.

“Bellissima is now closed and will not re-open at the Amsterdam location,” Ragghianti said. “I will be considering all options moving forward and will post any updates on this Bellisssima Facebook Fan page.”