The gay-owned and operated (and much-loved by GO staffers and readers) Bum Bum Bar in Queens has closed its doors for good. The bar, which was opened in the early 1990s on Roosevelt Avenue was one of only four remaining lesbian bars in NYC, and was a haven for working class, Latina lesbians.
The closure was documented by the NYC LGBT Historical Sites Project, which focuses on documenting the city’s queer spaces and history. “It’s a really sad commentary on the state of nightlife for LGBTQ women,” Ken Lustbader, Co-Director of NYC LGBT Historic Sites Projects, told The Jackson Heights Post. “This was one of the only places that provided the opportunity for LGBTQ women to meet each other in a safe environment.”
In 2016, GO interviewed the newest owner of the bar, Danny Hart, who was taking over for the previous owner Connie Idavoy. The bar was originally owned by two gay men, who named it after bum bum beauty contests in Brazil. Bum Bum Bar boasted fresh décor and featured a revamped back patio for cookouts. The bar had popular themed nights like Throw Back Thursday and Sabado de Rumba Total. The historic bar also hosted an annual pride party and often participated in the Jackson Heights Pride Parade.
Gwen Shockey, a Brooklyn artist who studies queer nightlife, told The Jackson Heights Post that she was “shocked” at Bum Bum Bar’s closing. “People have frequently mentioned that it’s harder for women to open and maintain spaces because of pay discrepancies,” Shockey said, conjecturing about why the bar had to close. “Women aren’t making as much money as men on the dollar and it makes it harder to succeed or have as consistent of a nightlife following as gay men.”
Bum Bum Bar’s closing is a tragic loss for the lesbian community in NYC. We at GO have lovingly documented many a night in the space and we are heartbroken to see it close.