Here’s Something Good In Our Nation’s Capital: New Lesbian Bars!

The queer nightlife landscape in the U.S. just got brighter

Two new spaces for queer women opened this summer in D.C. Photo by iStock

It’s a familiar refrain: Dedicated spaces for LBTQ women are an endangered species. Lesbian bars are quickly disappearing all over the country. But in D.C., two fairly new ones bucked the trend and are open for business.

Our capital city has been, of late, the hub of national nightmares—Trump’s discrimination against same-sex partners of diplomats, the Kavanaugh confirmation and its repercussions, the Trump administration’s assault on trans and GNC identity—so let’s take a moment to celebrate something good: two D.C. lesbian bars, each offering something different, that opened at the end of the summer.

According to its website, XX+, situated in the trendy Shaw neighborhood and sharing space with a Neapolitan restaurant, Al Crostino, “is a classy, upscale queer womxn’s lounge showcasing a different side to queer womxn’s nightlife while still offering comfortability.” Co-founded by Italian-born restaurateur Lina Nicolai, Maryland native and rising star chef KB Baxter, and Nigerian-born activist and social director Tasha, the lounge’s management “advocates inclusivity, diversity and fostering a united community.” Open five nights per week (Tuesday through Saturday), XX+ provides dancing and beats by local resident DJs (DJ DRIPKISS, DJ Tezrah, DJ Uni) as well as a happy hour, late-night menu, VIP section, space for private/corporate/community events, weekly open mic night, and a monthly rotating art gallery featuring the work of queer artists.

Nicolai hopes that XX+ will help to fill the void left behind when Phase 1, D.C.’s only lesbian bar—and the nation’s longest continually operating lesbian bar—shuttered and was sold in 2016.

“Lots of people mention, ‘You know, lesbian bars don’t succeed.’ And you know what? I know that,” Nicolai told The Washington Post. “I know that, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have one. …Hopefully, people will see what we’ve lost and appreciate what we’re trying to create.”

A League of Her Own, already dubbed ALOHO by regulars, was opened by gay bar owner Dave Perruzza after noticing the Phase 1 lesbian crowd all dressed up with no place to go. He decided to dedicate the lower level of his queer sports bar, Pitchers—located in the hip, nightlife-oriented Adams Morgan neighborhood—as an LBTQ women’s space.

On the Pitchers website, Perruzza describes his intent to hit a home run with the District’s lesbian community: “DC’s queer women have long deserved a space of their own. With the migration of gay bars moving from Adams Morgan to Shaw and U Street, the ladies have been lost in the shuffle. The Pitchers family knows we need to extend the love, and give the gals a space to the enjoy just like the boys have had for years.”

Open six nights per week (closed Mondays), with afternoon hours on the weekends, A League of Her Own boasts great music, a tasty menu of comfort food, drink specials, a happy hour, and assorted video games including Mortal Kombat, along with four TV screens showing sports (with preference given to women’s athletic events) and plenty of lesbian/queer programming, such as The L Word. And ALOHO is all about inclusivity. There are stickers for pronoun guidance (they/them, she/her, he/him). A note at the entrance reads: “This is a place for those who have not found their place elsewhere. Our doors are not open to intolerance, hate, or bigotry. Please remember that while are all welcome, you are a guest of the LGBTQIA+ community. Have fun, spread love, and appropriate shenanigans only. If you’re not sure, ask—consent is sexy!”

With two new venues, the queer nightlife landscape in the U.S. just got brighter. We are thrilled about these new spaces for lesbian, bisexual, trans, and queer-identified women in Washington, D.C. and wish them the wonderful success they deserve.  If you’ve visited XX+ and A League of Her Own, let us know in the comments!

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