Archive for the ‘Gay Bars’ Category

The Crocheting Boy

January 22, 2010

Years ago while doing some other research I stumbled upon this audio clip of a story told by Patton J. Hill, a prominent Trenton African American educator and long-time principal of the Lincoln School (Junior High 5):

CrochetingBoy

(Note: Clicking on the link above opens a new page.  This wav file is 12.6 mg & may take a while to load.)

Recorded in 1976 as part of an oral history project celebrating the bicentennial, this short (2.5 minute) story is an interesting example of the power of gender conformity.  Enforcing sexual identity could even bridge the deep racial dive in the U.S. at that time.

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Searching for Club 21

October 23, 2009
Warren21-1956

Since I don’t want to rely solely on my memories, two visits to the Trentoniana Room began my search for what remains in the public record for Club 21.  Initially, I wasn’t positive I had the bar’s name correct since it’s been so many years.  A hand drawn map of lunchtime eating spots I made of downtown Trenton in the 1980’s reassured me about the name and location.

Finding other evidence has proved elusive.  There is no listing for Club 21 in the telephone books for 1978, 79 or 80.  There is also nothing in the alphabetical listing or the yellow pages under taverns (bar was not a category) or restaurant.  With no luck finding the business, I turned to finding out about the address, 21 South Warren Street.  The Cross Reference Directory lists phone number by street address showing the following:

1979 – Covell Chas L

1981 – Anderson Winslow

               Covell Chas L

1983 – Occupant

1984 – No Listing for this address.

The building and several of its neighbors were demolished to make way for NJ National Bank’s Drive-Thru Teller.  Based on the phone listing this appears to have occurred around 1983 or 84.  Making that roughly the time Club 21 went out of business.

There are old tax photos from the late 1930’s and June 16, 1953.  The later photo appears to show a bar or restaurant at this location.  Further research is needed.  Since this was part of the Warren Street City Landmarks District, scanning through the unindexed minutes of the Landmarks Commission is next.  As always, any insights or stories about Club 21 are welcome, please comment here or email queertrenton@gmail.com.

21 South Warren Street in 2009

21 South Warren Street in 2009

Club 21 Memories

October 22, 2009
Club Sandwich

Club Sandwich

Three things come to mind when I recall Club 21: a big grey sweater, the chair on the wall and club sandwiches.  One of the staples of my admittedly poor wardrobe in the late 1970’s, was a big grey button down knit sweater, which I could wear into a bar on a cold night to keep warm without having to keep track of a coat.  It was also a bit of a security blanket in a new, potentially hostile environment. I have this image of myself sitting at the bar in Club 21 in that sweater.  This particular memory may survive because it was my first visit to a gay bar.

The chair on the wall (a ladder back hung at an angle in a corner where the ceiling and two walls met) sticks out as the most outrageous bit of décor in an establishment that I recalled as being ‘over the top’, stuffed with decoration.  Cozy, but definitely gay. Otherwise, I guess Club 21 was a standard urban watering hole.  When you walked into its long narrow space, a bar was on your left lined with bar stools and a back room had tables and chairs.

The third image, club sandwiches, comes from the fact that during the day Club 21 served as a restaurant whose main clientele were NJ state workers, of which I was one.  The club sandwiches probably stick in my mind due to the association with the bar’s name.  There is also a dim memory of some sort of small outdoor dining area in the back but it’s fleeting and probably not reliable.  I’d love to hear anyone else’s memories about Club 21.

Interesting Website:  http://steakhouseorgaybar.com

 

Trenton’s Gay Bars

October 20, 2009
Old Postcard for the Casa Lido Bar
Old Postcard for the Casa Lido Bar

 

In years after I came out in the late 1970’s the focus of most gay life in Trenton were the bars, clubs and discos that catered to our community.  I recall four bars, Casa Lido and Club 21 on South Warren Street downtown, the Wooden Indian on South Broad Street in South Trenton and the Zodiac on South Genesee Street in, what I think was, Franklin Park.  The locations of the first 3 are firm but my memory is shaky on the Zodiac.  Genesee Street seems right but the cross street escapes me and its distance from the city line with Hamilton Township at Cedar Lane eludes me.

These bars served different segments of the gay community with the Wooden Indian having a strong Lesbian slant, Club 21 tilting to older men, Casa Lido having a broader age range with a bit more macho vibe, and the Zodiac serving a younger, dancing clientele.  The Widows Watch on the corner of South Broad and Liberty Streets did at some point attempt to attract gay patronage with ‘gay nights’.  None of these establishments still exist and others took there places for differing periods of time.  Most notably, the Centre Street Pub at the corner of Centre and Cass Streets and Buddy’s Pub which took the site of the Wooden Indian across the street from the Mercer County Administration Building.  When Buddy’s closed its doors the era of Trenton Gay Bars ended with none currently operating in the city or its environs.

I’m planning on doing separate, more detailed posts on each of these establishments and would appreciate any information, photos or stories any of their customers can supply me.  Please email me at queerTrenton@gmail.com.  In particular clues to the location of the Zodiac and a timeframe for the closure for ABC violations of the Casa Lido in the 1980’s would be appreciated. 

Interesting  Website: http://www.bitterqueen.typepad.com/