There is no place in the world that feels more like home to me than the West Village of Manhattan.
The regal-looking trees that line the tiny-narrow-dollhouse streets, the trees that seem to bloom in the spring more voluptuously and more beautifully than any of the trees holding court in any other neighborhood in New York. Seriously. Flowers practically explode out the branches and the pavement is always peppered with all of these impossibly pretty pink petals. It’s like living inside a musical. Or like being London! (Only without the depressing grey sky and the doom and the gloom all those heavy, pregnant raindrops that SPLAT all over your head when you’re walking home from work and just like, trying to live your life).
And of course, there is the light. The light in the West Village is insane.
Out of this world. Seriously: Have you ever even noticed how the light in the West Village is more golden than anywhere else in all of New York state (except for maybe the Hamptons in July)? That hour before sunset when the whole neighborhood is bathed in this ethereal golden light, that is flattering to any skin type, any age, any person, any dog—is magical. I’m not the kind of girl who throws around words like “magical” either. I throw around words like “depressed” and “bitch” and “crazy” but not “magical.” My “magicals” are sparse and curated thus they carry a lot of emotional weight.
Anyway, it’s taken me exactly 221 words to describe why I love the West Village and I haven’t even gotten to the real reason as to why I really, truly love the West Village.
Because of the gay bars!
Duh! The gay bars that are actually teeming with Girls! Lesbians! Queer girls! Bi girls! Curious girls! Girls. Girls. Girls.
And what’s oh-so-very special about the West Village is that while it’s packed with ladies, it’s one of the few places left that doesn’t have some strict “present your gender and orientation at the door” policy. Sorry to use a buzzword, but it’s inclusive. It isn’t snotty. It isn’t hoity-toity. I can tote along my straight friend Harriet to Cubby with me, without being publically shamed for it.
I know that some of you might not know the West Village quite as well as I do, because you have jobs and lives that span outside the narrow spectrum of rummaging around gay bars, OR because you’re not from here but are perhaps contemplating a trip, OR because you’re in, like, high school (It gets better. For the most part!), so I figured I would take you through a typical Friday lezzie West Village extravaganza.
(Also, advertisers, if this isn’t proof that gay women go out and SPEND money, I don’t know what is. Because let me tell you, the West Village is many things, but cheap isn’t one of them. If our dollars can support real estate in lower Manhattan, they can certainly support your teeshirt company, OK?)
Lez start with the lesbian version of the “Cheers Bar”, ~The Cubby Hole~ (AKA “Cubby”).
When I was underage and closeted I used to lurk outside of the Cubbyhole like a seventeen-year old creeper, dying to catch a glimpse of the hot dykes entering and exiting this notoriously lesbian spot. Oftentimes a pack of them would come out for a ciggie (it was the early 2000s, everyone smoked, young kittens) and I would stand there, awkwardly pretending to text on my flip phone as I basked in their glorious lesbian presence.
One day I’ll be a regular at Cubby I used to say to myself, sticking my hands inside the pockets of my filthy peacoat, smiling into the promise of a dyke-ridden future.
Lucky for me, the lesbian goddesses shined their Sapphic light on me, and my prayers were answered. I Became A Regular At The Cubbyhole™ (a memoir). In fact, I met two girlfriends and had half a dozen epic one nightstands at le cubby.
My favorite time to go to Cubby is a Friday night. I recommend getting there early if you can, say about 5-6 PM. This way you can secure a spot in the corner by the windows, so you can sit comfortably whilst trolling the street, keeping an eye out for pending lesbians getting ready to come inside. I call this the Official Stacy Lentz Corner because you can almost always find her there, between 7-9 PM on any given night.
If you get there early you can actually talk to people and get to know the lovely, charming bartenders, like Lil’ Debbie, who we adore so much at GO Magazine (check out our interview with her, here). I’ll usually stay at Cubby until about 8 or 9 PM.
After that, I’ll head right over to Henrietta Hudson Bar & Girl (AKA Hens), the mother of all lesbian bars, baby.
What could be more enticing than a Saturday night in the West Village packed with gorgeous revelers, New York’s sexiest dancers, relentless beats from DJ Culi mixing Reggaeton, Dancehall, House and EDM, with the sultry go go stylings of Scarlett Snow on the bar? If you’re looking for a packed house, with bumping music, and the city’s finest crowd, look no further than Henrietta Hudson. Free Shots for the First 100 Guests! 1/2 Price Entry with Instagram Share!
Hens is mecca. It’s been Manhattan’s number one lez bar for over 25 years. In fact, if you google search “lesbian bar NYC” guess what comes up first in the feed? Hens, babes. And you know what that means? All the sexy Europeans who are visiting New York are dancing their nights away at good ole’ Henriettas. All the cute little baby dykes brand sparkly new to the scene who sweetly googled lezzie bars in the city, are there too. And of course the veteran NYC ladies are always at Hens. I mean how do you think it garnered the coveted Google monopoly? Google isn’t stupid. Google knows when a native New Yorker hears the words “lesbian” and “bar” in the same sentence, their brain immediately circles to Henrietta Hudson, thus it prioritizes it in its search optimization.
Oh, I’ve had nights at Henrietta Hudson! My girls and I recently went to Hens on a Friday and the only single one in the group went home with one of the sexiest girls we’ve all seen in a while (the girl ended up being a rookie lez and my darling friend was her first lesbian hookup. Swag). The rest of us danced until the wee hours of the morning, because there is truly no better place to dance then Henriettas (even for insecure jewish girls with no rhythm, like me).
Cubby is a great launching point for a sinful evening out. It’s more of talking and boozing place, than it is a dance and grind place. So ingest some liquid courage at the Cubs, and you’ll be more than ready to get lost in the amazing music curated by the amazing DJ Tikka Masala (or just gaze at the sexy dancing of burlesque queen Scarlett Snow) at the Hens!
The last stop on my West Village route is Stonewall (AKA Church).
We all know the Stonewall history, I hope. I mean, it’s the birthplace of the gay rights movement! It’s Jerusalem for gays. Our ancestors marched outside of Stonewall, so us entitled millennials could have safe places, like fab gay bars, to frequent whenever our queer hearts desired without getting heckled by police or arrested.
Having such historic, magical, energy surrounding the Stonewall makes your heart feel like is swelling the moment you flash your ID at the door person (often a badass woman! Oh, I love a woman security guard!). A lot of people think Stonewall is just gay shirtless boys and drag queens (which it is) but it actually has a sexy AF girl/girl scene looming inside of it, too. Especially on Friday nights when the historic lesbian party Lesbo-A-Go-Go is in full swing. Every Manhattan dyke worth her salt can be spotted at some point on a Friday evening on the top floor of stonewall grinding with a gorgeous woman.
I love Stonewall so much, I’m on the board (and you thought all I did was write humiliating essays about my haphazard life, you fool!) of The Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative, which helps to spread the spirit of Stonewall to the underserved members of our community, in particular, those who live in rural areas. Chelsea Clinton spoke at our launch party (I almost died introducing her) that took place right on the top floor where Lesbo-A-Go-Go happens. It was a very full circle moment for me that I’ll never forget as long as I live.
What I’m really trying to say is this: The West Village attains a certain vibe, a rare rainbow-colored energy that I’ve never felt anywhere else in the entire world. I’ve been to the gay bars in London. I used to live in West Hollywood. I adore a night out in queer Bushwick (contrary to popular opinion, I do go to Brooklyn. I just don’t take the train, I cab). I love a Hells Kitchen moment, especially with my gay boy lover, H.L Ray (I secretly think he’s related to Lana, shh). I’m obsessed with Cherry Grove and The Pines. I’m even known to dabble with the hot dykes (literally and figuratively hot, it’s a very warm there indeed) in southwest Florida!
But nothing compares to the West Village. Where else in the world can you go to three lesbian parties (two of which are exclusively inside the dying-almost-fictional lesbian bar) within four-minute walks of each other (five in heels)? Where else can you go to three different lesbian parties within four-minute walks of each other (five in heels) that are consistently packed with women?
Packed with fabulous, diverse, foreign, native New York, butch, femme, stemme, chapstick, softball, weathered, seasoned and fresh to the scene women who like (or are at least curious about liking) women. It’s one of a kind. It’s both beautiful and grimy, like New York City herself. In fact, I think the West Village embodies the spirit of the city. We are rebellious and tough, yet appreciative of history, both sensitive about our reputation and nostalgic about love. We are picturesque and able to see the beauty in what’s rough around the edges and what’s polished to perfection.
The West Village is a wild juxtaposition. Like New York. Like us.