Because Chicago does not have any self-appointed “lesbian bars,” lesbians scatter, weekdays and ends, oftentimes frolicking adrift in the playground-like hub of the queer community known as Boystown. The bars may all be gay-friendly, but the area ultimately offers what its name promises: a Town of Boys, Boys’ Town, and long nights of lingering in pursuit of lesbian lovers often leads to foot-tapping and app-swiping loneliness in a sea of dancing gay men. I found myself too often playing the role of bar voyeur, slouched over my whiskey to dodge the boisterous boys behind me, while eyeing every incoming woman for some sign of shared persuasion. Those wild nights of shots, show tunes, and scandalous eye contact with the stray straight woman may be fun, but they’re not quite, we’ll say, fulfilling. But with a few tips, you can increase your chances at interaction tenfold and avoid being the odd one out under the rainbow.
There are no lesbian bars in Chicago, but there are gay-friendly bars lesbians frequent. A few Boystown favorites include: D.S. Tequila (3352 N. Halsted), where you can score a fabulous margarita and relax on the patio, and the Closet (3325 N. Broadway St.), a small cash-only club with a dark dance floor and carefree feel. Whether you’re hanging out with friends or looking to meet new people, D.S. and the Closet can be a great start to a barhopping night for women in Boystown, particularly on the weekend, when the bigger GLBT clubs begin to fill with the Boys.
But for the most part, the Chicagoan lesbian learns to plan ahead—isn’t that why you’re reading this now, to know where to go before you leave your front door? Most of the Sapphic hot spots occur monthly, either at a specific locale or an ever-changing location, so you’ll need to keep up-to-date and sync your party-going cycle accordingly.
-FKA (Formerly Known As)—an all-inclusive dance party that emphasizes genderfluid acceptance and transgender inclusion every second Friday, at Big Chicks (5024 N Sheridan Rd.).
-Chances Dances—every third Saturday, at the Subterranean (2011 W. North Ave.).
-Off Chances—every second Tuesday, at Danny’s (1951 W. Dickens Ave.).
-LesBiFriends—every first Thursday , at Progress Bar (3359 N Halsted).
-Queerer Park—a bi-monthly queer dance party at Beauty Bar (1444 W Chicago Ave.).
Some change places, standing tall and pretty on usually unwelcoming grounds, and in those watering hole in the walls a queer wouldn’t otherwise attend in comfort.
-The Welcoming Committee’s Guerrilla Queer Bar—the first Friday of each month, a large GLBT party offering all a hug at the door and a takeover of the dance floor.
-The Welcoming Committee’s “Overhaul”— every third Saturday, a brand-new straight bar takeover, geared toward queer women, lesbians, and those who support them.
Whether you are searching for a new locale or are new to the city, enjoy it while you can—before you too are embedded in a bar scene composed of mostly exes.