First Lesbian Bars and Clubs, Worldwide

In the history of lesbian club culture, from 1926 to 1933, Damenklub Violetta in Berlin, is one of the first lesbian nightclubs documented in the world but was shutdown, like other trailblazing gay / lesbian clubs including legendary Le Monocle (Paris) by the Nazis during WWII.

Check out some of the first trailblazing lesbian bars and clubs, worldwide including my fav... Il Sottomarino Giallo NightClub Milano.

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A Sketchy History of Lesbian Clubs and Bars Worldwide

Truly, bravo to the past and present, audacious owners of the first Lesbian cafes, bars and clubs in their countries. It's been so hard to try and record a very rough timeline of possibly some of the first lesbian bars / clubs worldwide. Please forgive any errors, as sadly there is so little information regarding the history of Lesbian bars and clubs. I just found the idea interesting to see which countries were trailblazers in lesbian club culture and which countries are still sadly facing homophobia. Please do email me, if you have any info and images so I can update this page.

Historically and sadly even now, it would have taken/ takes HUGE courage to open a Lesbian cafe, bar or club. These sweet owners offered a sanctuary and a safe environment to "be yourself", have fun and possibly find L.O.V.E. So far, the earliest lesbian club I have discovered, dates back to Damenklub Violetta in 1926 Berlin, BUT... for gay boys for example Margaret Clap (known as "Mother Clap"), ran from 1724 to 1726 (in Holborn, London) a... "coffee house" / "Molly House" which was primarily frequented by gay men.

Yet, for both gay girls and boys, the progressing gay bar and club scene during the early 1930s was set back by ...

the rise of the Nazis and their invasion of countries and closing down of gay venues - the least of their atrocities. Post war/ the sixties there was a resurrection in the gay club scene - but in some countries like the uK male homosexulaity was illegal while lesbianism wasn't. In the 2020s, guttingly, Lesbian cafes, bars and clubs are dwindling to near extinction. Take for example America - in the 1980s there were an estimated 200 lesbian bars across America. In 2021 lesbianbarproject.com reported only 21 lesbian bars trading in the USA. For the uK check out BBC interviewing lesbian bar managers during Lesbian Visibility Week 2021. Why are Lesbian bars and clubs closing? Partly due to ongoing homophobia, illegality certain countries, but, also gentrification which brings in raised rates, SHITE COVID and... Lesbian dating apps.

Stuff swiping-dating apps! I so miss hanging out with a sweet posse in Lesbian bars and clubs, goofy (yet, cooly) indie dancing to some fab indie/pop (particularly with my gay fab boyfriend - Baroque Boy), meeting friends-of-friends, and, a skip-a-heart-beat glance across the bar/ dancefloor. A special shout-out to: Edinburgh's CC Blooms, London's Ace of Clubs, Milano's il Sottomarino Giallo, Soho's Ghetto and The Readers Wifes DJs.

The Future: do you really want to find lesbian L.O.V.E only via a swiping dating app (skim a profile pic, in a blink-of-an-eye & heart or dismiss) and, see the demise of Lesbian cafes, bars and clubs? Or go to hetty clubs / bars and, suss out / click the chick who you thnk might be cake (gay)? Do you really not, miss lesbian venues?

I salute the courageous trailblazing, slick owners and those still continuing their Lesbian cafes, bars and clubs, perhaps through testing homophobic and financial times. Please don't let them disappear. AND, if you can and it's safe - open new ones! Lesbian cafes, bars and clubs not only offer the opportunity to find L.O.V.E but friends, dance to fab music with like minded souls and, support the community.

P.S Check out First Lesbian Magazines Worldwide or Fancy a queer quiz?

Damenklub Violetta Nightclub Germany's First Lesbian Bar / Club - 1926

Germany: Damenklub Violetta Nightclub

1926 – 1933

Germany's First Lesbian Bar / Club - Damenklub Violetta Nightclub, Berlin

Historically, Damenklub Violetta is considered as one of the first documented lesbian bars / clubs in the world and was the most popular and famous lesbian clubs in Berlin which reportedly had 400 members. It hosted dances and balls such as the "Calling-Card Ladies' Ball" (Damenball mit Saalpost) and the "Dance Roulette" (Roulette-Tanz)... more

Owner / Landlady of Damenklub Violetta Nightclub: Lotte Hahm

Address: Hasenheide 52 -53, Kreuzberg, Berlin, Germany

Le Monocle Nightclub France's First Lesbian Lesbian Bar / Club - 1920s

France: Le Monocle Nightclub

1920s – 1940s

France's First Lesbian Bar / Club - Le Monocle Nightclub, Paris

Le Monocle, was one of the first and most famous lesbian nightclubs in Paris. During Paris's Jazz Age, sporting a monocle had become something of a lesbian "flag" thus the club's staff suavely wore Tuxedos and monocles. Le Monocle was forced to close during the German occupation in WWII. After the war, it re-opened for a while in Montparnasse... more

Owner / Landlady of Le Monocle Nightclub: Lulu de Montparnasse

Address: 12 Rue du Champ de l'Alouette, Paris, France

Café 't Mandje Netherlands' First Lesbian Bar / Club - 1956

Netherlands: Café 't Mandje

1927 – 1982

Netherlands's First Gay Bar / Club - Café 't Mandje, Amsterdam

In a time when homosexuality was illegal in the Netherlands. Café 't Mandje ("little basket") was one of the first LGBT friendly pubs where gays and lesbians could hang out as long as there was no kissing which would have violated the vice laws and the liquor license suspended. A light was installed in a plaster owl, which was lit to... more

First Owner / Landlady of Café 't Mandje: Bet van Beeren

Address: Zeedijk 63, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Gateways Club UK's First Lesbian Bar / Club - 1931

UK: Gateways Club

1931 - 1985

UK's First Lesbian Bar / Club - Gateways Club, London

Though Gateways opened in the 1930s as a hetty club, during WWII it became lesbian friendly and only became an exclusively lesbian club from 1967 onwards. Clientele would be let in the green door by using a secret code at the door! Only 35ft long, the smokey windowless cellar-like room featured a bar at one end, a jukebox opposite the bar and... more

First Owners of Gateways Club: Ted & Gina Ware

Address: 239 King's Road, Chelsea, London, UK

440 Club America's First Lesbian Bar / Club - 1936

America: 440 Club

1936 - mid 1950s?

America's First Lesbian Bar / Club - 440 Club, San Francisco

The 440 Club was a place for "Cocktailing, Dancing, and Dining" and "where girls can be boys." Female waiters and performers wore tuxedos and patrons dressed their roles. Another big draw was their in house entertainment with bi and lesbian performers who included Gladys Bentley, Moms Mabley, Frances Faye... more

First Owners of 440 Club: Mona Sargeant & Charlie Murray - 1941 managed by Babe Scott.

Address: 440 Broadway Street, San Francisco, USA

Baby Face Nightclub Canada's First Lesbian Bar / Club - 1969

Canada: Baby Face Nightclub

1969 – 1983?

Canada's First Lesbian Bar / Club - Baby Face Nightclub, Montreal

Baby Face Disco is credited as being Montreal's first lesbian-only bar. The venue was equipped with a jukebox, a small dance-floor and strobe lights. With only a few tables, customers could stand or walk around making it easy to meet new gals... more

First Owner / Landlady of Baby Face Nightclub: Denise "Babyface" Cassidy

Address: 1235, boul. Dorchester, Montreal, Canada

The Tenth Muse Cafe Bar Lesbos's First Lesbian Bar / Club - ?

Lesbos: The Tenth Muse Cafe Bar

?

Lesbos's First Lesbian Bar / Club - The Tenth Muse Cafe Bar, Lesbos

Every Lesbian should know that Sappho came from the island of Lesvos / Lesbos - and birth village is Eresos. In the 1970s, lesbians flocked to Lesbos and it has been estimated that 3,000 - 4,000 gay women now visit Eresos every summer, which inflates Eresos population of circa 1,500 full-time residents! For all the hype... more

First Owner / Landlady of The Tenth Muse Cafe Bar: ?

Address: Eresos, Lesbos

Kikōshi Bar Japan's First Lesbian Bar / Club - 1973

Japan: Kikōshi Bar

1973 – ?

Japan's First Lesbian Bar / Club - Kikōshi Bar, Tokyo

Kikōshi Bar ("young noble") is credited as being Japan's first onabe bar which opened in 1973. In Japan, "onabe" is slang for a "masculine lesbian" but in these times it is considered an offensive term. Alas, no further info on Kikōshi :(

First Owner / Landlady of Kikōshi Bar: ?

Address: Roppongi, Tokyo, Japan

Daniel's Women-only Bar Spain's First Lesbian Bar / Club - 1975

Spain: Daniel's Barcelona

1975 - ?

Spain's First Lesbian Bar / Club - Daniel's (Women-only Bar), Barcelona

Daniel's Bar Barcelona was one of the first lesbian / women-only bars in Spain and was opened shortly after, dictator, Caudillo Franco's death in 1975. To avoid high tax rates, Daniel's Bar was originally opened as a non-profit association, so to gain entrance, patrons had to... more

First Owner / Landlady of Daniel's Barcelona (Women-only Bar): María del Carmen Tobar

Address: Plaza de Cardona 7–8, Barcelona, Spain

Ruby Red's Lesbian Bar Australia's First Lesbian Bar / Club - 1977

Australia: Ruby Red's Lesbian Bar

1979 - 1982

Australia's First Lesbian Bar / Club - Ruby Red's Lesbian Bar, Sydney

Ruby Red's Lesbian Bar is credited with being Sydney's first girls-only lesbian bar / club. Entry was up a very thin stairwell, with a bar straight ahead, a classic D.I.S.C.O area with a changing coloured dance floor, strobe lights and mirror balls, and another bar out the back... more

First Owner / Landlady of Ruby Red Bar Sydney: Dawn O'Donnell and Roger Claude Tesseydre

Address: 273 Crown Street, Sydney, Australia

il Sottomarino Giallo NightClub Italy's First Lesbian Bar / Club - 1985

Italy: Il Sottomarino Giallo NightClub

1985 - ?

Italy's First Lesbian Bar / Club - Il Sottomarino Giallo NightClub, Milano

Most likely Il Sottomarino Giallo NightClub Milano (Via Donatello) is not Italy's FIRST Lesbian nightclub but I admit I am V. biased here, as I went to Il Sottomarino Giallo, every Saturday night for two years, in the late 90's. After a fun night at L'Elephant, I would say good night to my lovely gay boyfriends and we would part ways to our "own" Disco's, I to Il Sottomarino Giallo & my boys to... more

First Owner / Landlady of Sottomarino Giallo NightClub Milano: ?

Address: Behind San Babila, Milano, Italy

Olivia Travel Cruises World's First Lesbian Cruises - 1990

Olivia Travel Cruises

1990 - present

The World's First Lesbian Cruises

In 1990, Olivia Travel was founded by Judy Dlugacz and remains the only company in the world offering cruises catering just to lesbians and LGBTQ+ women. Olivia Travel has produced well over 300 trips for more than 350,000 women. Onboard performers have included:... more

Founder of Olivia Travel: Judy Dlugacz

Address: olivia.com

Legacy Lesbian Bar South Korea's First Lesbian Bar / Club - 1996

South Korea: Legacy Lesbian Bar

1996 - ?

South Korea's First Lesbian Bar / Club - Legacy Lesbian Bar, Seoul

Legacy Lesbian Bar is reportedly South Korea's first and oldest lesbian bar which Kim Myung-woo, a lesbian activist, opened with a friend. At first, Legacy Lesbian Bar was located in the basement of an old building in Gongduk-dong. Later, it moved to Sinchon, a neighborhood that... more

First Owner / Landlady Legacy Lesbian Bar, South Korea: Kim Myung-woo

Address: Sinchon, Seoul, South Korea

Minerva Lesbian Bar Israel's First Lesbian Bar / Club - 1998

Israel: Minerva Lesbian Bar

1998 - 2008

Israel's First Lesbian Bar / Club - Minerva Lesbian Bar, Tel Aviv

Minerva Lesbian Bar was Israel 's first bar for women and the most popular lesbian bar in Tel Aviv. The three founders wanted to create a place with style, open every day and designated for lesbian women. Upstairs there was a bar, downstairs an art gallery and a bookstore... more

First Owner / Landlady Minerva Lesbian Bar, Tel Aviv: Ariella Landa, Dalia Shelef & ?

Address: 98 Allenby Street, Tel Aviv, Israel

Coup d'Etat Lesbian Bar Lebanon's First Lesbian Bar / Club - 2006

Lebanon: Coup d'Etat Lesbian Bar

Late summer 2006 - January 2007

Lebanon's First Lesbian Bar / Club - Coup d'Etat Lesbian Bar, Beirut

The Middle East's first openly lesbian bar, Coup d'Etat, was launched quietly in Beirut, Lebanon, shortly after an internationally-brokered ceasefire ended a month-long war between Israel and the Lebanese militia, Hezbollah in 2006. Coup d'Etat Lesbian Bar (not to be confused with Coop d'Etat) was a tiny bar in Hamra, Beirut comprising two benches across from each other for seating... more

First Owner / Landlady of Coup d'Etat Lesbian Bar, Lebanon: Raed Habib

Address: Hamra, Beirut, Lebanon

Bigudi Club Turkey's First Lesbian Bar / Club - 2006

Turkey: Bigudi Club

2006 - ?

Turkey's First Lesbian Bar / Club - Bigudi Club, Istanbul

Bigudi Club was the first ever exclusively lesbian venue opened in Turkey. Over the years, Bigudi Club has been closed down, re-opened and changed location several times. I couldn't find much info about Bigudi Club :(

First Owner / Landlady of Bigudi Club, Istanbul: ?

Address: Istanbul, Turkey

Tri El Lesbian Club Russia's First Lesbian Bar / Club - ?

Russia: Tri El Lesbian Club

? - ?

Russia's First Lesbian Bar / Club - Tri El Lesbian Club, St. Petersburg

Tri El Club, is / was St Petersburg's oldest and largest lesbian club. Open Wednesdays and Friday through to Sunday club Tri El has / had two bars, a large dancefloor, a stage where talent shows performed, and a cordoned-off VIP area. Men were allowed in, if... more

First Owner / Landlady of Tri El Lesbian Club: ?

Address: 107 – 109 Moskovsky Prospekt, St. Petersburg, Russia

The Lesbian Bar Project (Documentary)

1980 - 2023

Lesbian bars in the United States

In the 1980s, there were roughly 200 Lesbian Bars in the United States. Today, there are fewer than 21. As these lesbian bars disappear, filmmakers Erica Rose and Elina Street established The Lesbian Bar Project to celebrate, support, and amplify the remaining Lesbian bars.