Sunday, November 30, 2014


Blue Pride having press conference in front of
Cups (1995). A group of US LGBT police officers
were harassed here by Puerto Rican police officers.

Location: 1708 Calle San Mateo, Santurce
San Juan, Puerto Rico

Opened: 1980

Closed: Early 2011

The description from GayCities makes Cups sound pretty interesting:

Tropical bar for women
The only place in San Juan that caters exclusively to lesbians, Cups has offered great entertainment since 1980. Come on Wednesdays or Fridays for live music and cabaret, or on Thursdays for karaoke.

So does this one from Moon Travel Guide:

The local lesbian crowd gathers in the laid-back ambiance of Cups (1708 Calle San Mateo, 787/268-3570). DJs spin dance music on Wednesday night, karaoke is Thursday night, and live music is Friday night. There are pool tables, too.

As does this one from the Backpacker:

Old San Juan. For the a friendly low-key lesbian bar that attracts a mix of all nationalities.
And Fodor's:
This woman-oriented bar in the middle of Santurce has been a mainstay of San Juan's nightlife since 1980. Karaoke on Thursday is especially popular. It's open Wednesday to Saturday.
From Go Magazine (December 2008):
For a ladies-only atmosphere, check out Cups (1708 Calle San Mateo), San Juan’s only exclusively lesbian bar, which combines live music, dancing and billiards.
And from the same magazine a few months earlier (July 2008):
Further along Ponce De Leon, near the San Mateo Church, is Cups (1708 Calle San Mateo), a women’s bar and tavern. Spacious enough for live music, dancing and billiards, this hip lesbian haunt has something for both the pool shark and the party girl.

On the other hand, the description of Cups from ClubFly is a little less promising:

Type: Lesbian Bar
In a nutshell: Cups Bar and Lounge is a San Juan lesbian bar well frequented by gay boys. Wednesday and Friday features a 2 for 1 happy hour from 5pm ...

Trip Advisor doesn't sound so hot either:

Cups (gay/lesbian dancebar)

As for customer reviews, here's a yelp customer review from Jennie T. of Chicago ( December 2009):

This is the ONLY lesbian bar I know (so far). It seems as though everywhere I go, gay bars usually only consist of a lesbian night or a women's night, but there isn't a bar for women by women who love women. In other words, this bar/nightclub is absolutely awesome!

We went here last Friday night, and they had a live band playing. The music was pretty good.

There was also a cute curly-haired bartender who made us a chocolaty drink that I didn't expect to be delicious (because I don't really like chocolate).

Now, why isn't there a place like this in Chicago? Well, you know I'm definitely going back the next time I'm in San Juan!

A customer at GayCities also gave Cups a good review (September 2010):

Spent 7 days in puerto Rico and found this jewel. A def lesbian hangout but the staff is inviting and bilingual. It was a great way to relax and meet some new people. people drive from all over for there Thursday to Saturday happy hour from 7pm to 9 pm. Club closes at 2 am but more parties till 5am on the same street.

It did NOT a get a good review from an African-American woman, also at GayCities (January 2010):

Well all I can say is that my partner and I went to CUPS tonight and we felt like we were about to be lynched!!! The service was horrible and unwelcoming. The bartender assisted everyone else, including people who walked up after me, and then served me when she felt like it. My advice to all the African American people who are thinking about going to this club, DON'T!!!

But despite all the reviews good and bad, we also see that the owner of Cups, a woman by the name of Dr. Rosalinda Ramos, was considered a "longtime lesbian activist on the island." See here.

A 1995 incident involving a group of LGBT police officers meeting in Puerto Rico being harassed by local San Juan police at Cups was reported in the New York Times. This is also a good account by a gay officer from the NYPD about the incident.

A yelp commenter from November 2012 notes that Cups was closed. ClubFly and a number of other sites also report the same. Lonely Planet states that Cups closed down in "early 2011."

Also see this January 2014 piece called Reclaiming Lesbian Spaces in Puerto Rico that mentions Cups.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Shakespearean Inn Ladies Cafe

Shakespearean Inn Ladies Café
Beach Street today

Location: Beach Street, Boston, Massachusetts,USA

Opened/Closed: Early 1900s

Men showing disrespect for women's spaces is nothing new. Their urge to crash any space set aside for (or forcibly claimed by) women is seen in all times and all places.

Realize that the ladies cafes of the 19th century/early 20th century were largely in the former (i.e. set aside) category, as many eating and drinking establishments of the time were male-only either by law or by custom. In most cases, ladies cafes were an afterthought, a sop if you will. And in fact, ladies cafes did not typically exclude men per se (even though the men's ones excluded women), but they usually "preferred" that gentlemen be accompanied by ladies (sounds like the unofficial policy of a lot of lesbian bars, another example of a fragile and increasingly endangered women's space. And a policy that men complain about endlessly, despite the plethora of spaces catering to gay and straight males).

And yet even though there were (and are) male only/and or male-dominated establishments in abundance, they gentlemen couldn't help themselves from intruding on Shakespearean Inn Ladies Café. At least in this case, they got push-back from the management. From the Boston Post, March 19, 1901:

Landlord William Hennessy of the Shakespearean Inn in denying admission to teh [sic] Rev. Herbert S. Johnson and his party to the ladies' café because they were not accompanied by ladies followed a rule that has been in vogue at his hotel ever since he opened. It is known to the frequenters of the Inn that no hotel in the city is conducted more carefully, and that, too, in a neighborhood where every effort is made to break down rules of propriety and decorum. Mr. Hennessy has established the reputation of meeting all difficulties and conforming to the laws and police regulations as well, if not better, than any other hotel proprietor in the city.

Unfortunately, it appears that Mr. Hennessy's reputation for a well-run house ran into a bit of trouble less than a year later. A man shot another man through the head (killing him instantly), just outside the Shakespearean Inn. It seems it all started as a brawl while the two men were in "the barroom at the Shakespearean Inn." According to this article, the killer was "driven to desperation" by the victim's "insulting language"-- though the insult seems pretty mild by modern standards. We're informed that a "dozen men were standing about the bar" when the "trouble began," so this obviously took place in the men's bar. The killer later committed suicide.

So I can kind of see how the ladies preferred to do their imbibing without a lot of menfolk about.

The former Shakespearean Inn is now part of Boston's Chinatown, specifically within the tiny (six building) Beach-Knapp Historical district. I'm unable to identify the specific building.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Lesbian Marriage in Columbus, Kansas (1935) - REVISITED

One of our most popular posts here at Lost Womyn's Space is the story of two women who got married in Columbus, Kansas in 1935. I have been working on a longer research article on them, and I have posted PART I in the page section. So in honor of Kansas finally recognizing same-sex marriage, meet Tiny and Margaret. Enjoy!

Ah, what the heck, let's throw in PART II as well. Will be posting more pieces as I get the footnotes fixed. (Memo to self: don't ever let your sources get so goofed up AGAIN.)

Update 11/16 - Finally done!

The Marquee

Phoenix Landing at 512 Massachusetts
Avenue, the former Marquee
The Marquee

Location: 512 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

Opened/Closed: 1970s - mid 80s?

The Marquee shows up in a lot of random memories. This one is from QWIMB, in an interview with Marcia Deihl:

In Cambridge in the 1970s, there were Lesbian Feminist Music Collectives and women’s bars within which to showcase their talents. Bars like the Marquee in Cambridge, Sneakers in Somerville, and Somewhere Else in Boston. Imagine having a bar in the city exclusively dedicated to serving gay women? Boston has not had a women’s bar in over two decades.

Then there is mention in a 2008 interview done for Actup Oral History Project. (JH is Jill Harris, SS is Sarah Schulman):

SS: What was your community involvement at that time? What was the name of that big famous lesbian bar in Boston? It was called like Our Place or –

JH: Somewhere.

SS: Somewhere. That’s right.

JH: Somewhere. I worked there.

SS: What?

JH: I worked there.

SS: You worked at Somewhere?

JH: I worked at Somewhere.

SS: So you were in Lesbian Central.

JH: Yeah, yeah. I was a waitress at Somewhere between college and law school. I stayed in the Boston area for a couple years after I got out of college, and I worked at – the Marquee in Cambridge was a big bar, I was a bartender there, and I was a waitress at Somewhere. It must have been like ’80. It was fun. It was a blast.

Here's a recollection from Elizabeth Stephens:

My next significant relationship was sealed when this hot woman who I had last seen at the skuzzy lesbian bar called the Marquee caught my eye at the AA meeting Crossroads on Tuesday nights. After the meeting Fredericka invited me to go apple picking with her. It was when we were both up the same apple tree that she revealed her gift of being able to pick apples with her toes. Being the latent ecosexual that I was, I was hooked. She picked apple after apple, as I got more and more turned on. After neither one of us could take it any more we climbed down the tree and took a roll in the hay that turned into a three-year relationship. Fredericka was fun when we weren’t in some fucked up power struggle. She too had ecosexual tendencies and must have sensed that we could explore them together.

Then there is this 1983 yahoo discussion where a lot of dudebro's are pontificating on whether a lesbian bar is "discriminatory," with specific mention of the Marquee. But I find it so annoying I can't bring myself to quote any of it. Do so at your own risk.

Today the site houses Phoenix Landing, an "alternative Irish bar."

Monday, November 10, 2014

Navarre Hotel Ladies Restaurant

Ad from the Bath [Maine] Independent,
March 5, 1910
Navarre Hotel Ladies Restaurant

Location: 7th Avenue at 38th Street, New York, New York, USA

Opened: Hotel opened in 1900, ladies restaurant probably didn't open till after 1907

Closed: Hotel demolished in 1930

The 1910 ad for the Navarre Hotel (to the right) appeared in Maine, but I imagine something similar appeared in newspapers all over the east coast.

Notice that a "Ladies Restaurant" is listed under the "Dutch Grill Rooms."

As we have pointed out in previous ladies restaurant posts, restaurants specifically designated for ladies were not unusual in turn-of-the century hotels. Chances are the "Dutch Grill Rooms" were designated as male-only, as cooking meat over an open flame is generally associated with men, masculinity, and men's space, and still is to some extent.

That is not to say that the "Ladies Restaurant" was female-only. Typically male escorts were not only allowed, they could even outnumber the ladies on occasion based on our analysis of other ladies restaurants from the period.

In many cases, the ladies restaurant was an after thought by the management. That also appears to be the case here. In this newspaper ad from 1907, there is mention of the "New Dutch Grill Rooms Largest in City," but no mention of a ladies restaurant.

As for the rest of the Beyond the Guided Age, we're told that the building was designed by Barney & Chapman around 1900 and demolished in 1930.

We get a little more background from this contemporary description:

On the corner of Seventh Ave., at 38th St., is the NAVARRE HOTEL, most conveniently located. 300 ft. from Broadway. Constructed in the French Renaissance style of architecture, it is one of the handsomest structures of its kind, not only in this country. but in the world. It is built and maintained strictly fire-proof throughout, with its ten stately stories of steel construction, stone and brick walls, red-tiled roof and marble mosaic and terrazzo floors. Among many hostelries of a great city, the Navarre stands unique in this respect. It truly offers the maximum of comfort and luxury at minimum cost. Its richness and high-class appointments, while affording all that is attainable as to the substantial and elegant in hotel service, are to be enjoyed at rates reasonable beyond ordinary expectations.

Navarre Hotel Main Lobby
The colored postcard above accompanied this description. And in this postcard, which appears to be from the 1920s, there is mention of the "Most Artistic Grill Rooms and Restaurants in the City," but no specific mention of a ladies restaurant, so I suspect it was gone by then.

Judging by the few images we have of the interior, this hotel was as beautiful on the inside as it was on the outside. Unfortunately, we have no images of the ladies restaurant. And I don't find any images from the time of the (men's) grill room either. However, you can see an artist's rendition of what the Navarre Hotel "Gentleman's Café and Bar" looked like here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Mama Bears Bookstore

Writer Deb Cooperman and friend Ruth at reading they
did at Mama Bears
Mama Bears Bookstore

Location: 6536 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, California, USA

Opened: 1983

Closed: March 2003

Here is how they described themselves in 1999:

Mama Bears Women's Bookstore is one of the oldest feminist bookstores in the world. We feature a wide selection of books and gift items of interest to women.

Certainly that's modest and straightforward enough. Fortunately we have more to go by. Here is the write-up from when Mama Bears won the Best Independent Bookstore honor from Best of the East Bay 2001:

Leaflet for Max Dashu event at
Mama Bears
The bookstore is nice and small and people look up at you when you walk in the door -- usually a trait with which we feel uncomfortable, but it's somehow rendered OK in Mama Bears. The women behind the counter have been there forever and can point you in all the cardinal directions for books on women and relationships and pirates and school and food. While you peruse the stacks, you can always gaze up at the posters of famous women on the wall to inspire you to do things, or if not that, then at least read about it. A café's in back for tea and snacks, and free literature abounds at the front. But be sure to visit soon. The store's lease is up in two years, and where they'll go, nobody knows.

As it turned out, that last sentence turned out to be highly prophetic. The following announcement appeared in SFGate in March 2003:

Mama Bears, the sweet, little women's bookstore on Telegraph Avenue, is calling it quits after 20 years, but don't despair -- a new sweet, little women's bookstore is opening up in its stead.

Initially, Sarah Cohen, 26, was planning on buying Mama Bears from Alice Molloy and Carol Wilson, whose feminist bookstore roots go back a good 30 years. But the deal fell through when the two parties couldn't agree on a price, and Molloy and Wilson began liquidating their stock of books for, by and about women. They have temporarily moved across the street to a rental space at 6434 Telegraph Ave., and that's where they they plan to sell off all their books at a 40 percent discount.

A lot of forlorn women have been dropping in, e-mailing or telephoning to express their disappointment that the store is going out of business, but Molloy won't have it: "Hey, we're excited," she said. "We're retiring!"

Molloy is thinking about turning the Mama Bears Web site into a political forum. Wilson has plans to volunteer.

A beautiful tribute to the store was posted on Facebook under Remembering Our Feminist Sisters:

6536 Telegraph Avenue today
The 3 Dyke Crones: Alice Molloy, Carol and Natalie who ran Mama Bears bookstore on the Oakland/Berkeley border for YEARS. It was so sad to me when they could no longer make a go of it or were just ready to retire.

They sold Lesbian, Feminist and Goddess/Women's spirituality books and it there I have amassed my huge collection. They also sold Lesbian and women's artwork, magazines, Lesbian/Pride jewelry, had author lectures and signings and small intimate women only concerts there as well as rituals.

At night we could have strictly women only events and during the day open to all.

Every Thanksgiving and sometimes on Christmas Day too tgey cooked up a big turkey or on Xmas Day a ham..for Dykes in the community who had no family or no place else to go. Everyone else poylicked the side dishes and it was a wonderful sense of community and bonding and service they did for the community.

There were also sodas and snacks and tabes so anytime during the day womyn could come in and socialize with each other or with them if they weren't too busy. I always amassed a stack of books and while snacking would peruse through them to see which ones of the bunch I really wanted.

Indeed Mama Bears was a Lesbian and women's community institution. Alice and I had many a political discussion. She considered herself to be an anarchist Feminist. I considered it my home away from home....the 3 were very sad when the end came and I missed them. Especially Alice and Carol. I don't know if they are all still alive or not...they pretty much disappeared after the bookstore closed....