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October 17, 2004

Former Gay Boston

www.BostonGayBars.com has this list of former gay bars and hot spots, written by someone much younger than I:

Do you remember.... ?
Not sure what the name was, but I was told there used to be a bar or diner where gay men frequented back in the 70s and 80s. It was located across the Boston Common on Boylston Street, where now the Four Seasons is located. Anyone remember this place?

119 Merrimac
This dive bar is no longer there... for the building is currently being regutted and converted into offices or condos. The owners of 119 moved its business toward Downtown Crossing at Pi Alley.

"The 1270 (it was also known as Quest in the mid- to late-90s) was a great 3 story club with a roof deck at 1270 Boylston,at the other end of the same building where Ramrod is.There is some type of latin flavor breeder's club there now." - submitted by Ujpro@yahoo.com

Located near the Fleet Center (Boston Garden) on Friend Street, near Haymarket and North End. The dance floor was small, and during the weekend mornings it was a place to have brunch (with omelettes made to order). Now it's some Tapas bar filled with... ugh... breeders.

I only remember Buddies when it was located on Stuart Street in the Theatre District. I remember sneaking in (I was underaged) with friends and had a blast. It was before my time when Buddies was located in the Back Bay... on Boylston Street. Shortly after Buddies closed, the bar was then transformed into F/X... which was very short-lived. The Stuart Street location is now Boston's best killer dance club: BUZZ.

What stands in its place is Trinity Place... more luxury condos. It was the best dance club before BUZZ, located in Copley Square, across from the Copley Westin Hotel. The alley behind Chaps was the playground during Boston Pride, and the place was packed year after year. Chaps then moved to the Theatre District, and then it changed its name to VAPOR. Now, according to many friends, Vapor has slowly emerged into a bi/straight club. It was really never the same when Chaps moved from its Copley location.

A short-lived dance club on Lincoln Street in the Leather District near South Station. With the 24-hour diners and Chinatown nearby, one would have thought that gay nightlife would thrive... nope.

Located near Haymarket in downtown Boston. Don't remember much about this place... I think it thrived back in the early to mid-1980s.

DykeNights at Midway Cafe
There was a place for women in Jamaica Plain. On April 26, 2004, DykeNights held its last night. Click here for more information about the closing...

GladDay Bookstore
Okay, it's not a bar or club, but it was perhaps the most popular, longest-surviving gay bookstore in Boston. It was located across from the Boston Public Library, on Boylston Street. I believe the management moved to a new location in the Leather District, on 92A South Street, and renamed the bookstore, Calamus Bookstore. Above the bookstore is the new location of Marquis de Sade, that used to be on Berkeley Street in the South End.

"Haymarket, a short lived, weak attempt at rivaling Avalon in the Combat Zone" - submitted by Ujpro@yahoo.com

Another short-lived bar on Washington Street in Downtown Crossing that featured gay night (Wednesdays). Now it's totally straight... and the name has been changed to FELT.

Lava Bar
Above the Howard Johnson's hotel in Kenmore Square stood the Lava Bar. It was a bar for women, and it opened Thursdays through Sundays. It closed some time around 2000.

The Loft
This after-hours club was located in the Back Bay (behind Club Cafe). It was Saturdays and Sundays, from 12:30 a.m. to dawn. Saturday mornings had a mixed crowd, and Sunday mornings were all-gay. The Loft had three bass-thumping dance floors and a roofdeck. Summer nights were awesome. The Loft has been closed for almost ten years now, but now RISE has returned (after a fire that closed the club for over a year) as the after-hours hot spot for gay club-goers.

It's now "Upstairs at Dedo." Located in Bay Village, across from the Boston Park Plaza.

Napoleon Bar
Once touted as Boston's oldest gentlemen bar, Napoleon Bar was situated in Bay Village on Pinckney Street. Napoleon's consisted of two piano bars, and a dance floor upstairs, called Josephine's. It was closed a number of years ago and it has since turned into condominiums.

Essex Street, near Chinatown. This place was SCARY!!! The building is being torn down and more luxury condos are going to be in its place.

Safari Club
Boston once had a sex club. The city closed it down, after someone reported illegal activities to the authorities. It was located on Wareham Street in the South End. If you want to go to a sex club now, you'll have to drive down to Providence, Rhode Island.

"Skippers was a cute little hustler bar located where the Four Seasons now stands." - submitted by Ujpro@yahoo.com

This was a leather/levi neighborhood bar on Cambridge Street. Correct me if I'm wrong, but was there a sling that used to hang inside that place?

Venus DeMilo
Located on Lansdowne Street near Fenway Park. Wednesday nights. No more.

Filed under Gay Issues | permalink | October 17, 2004 at 07:35 PM


The part-time manager at Napoleon's was my partner at the time. The owners treated Chris badly, so he went back to school and graduated in his late 40s and then worked at an organization providing support for PWAs. Chris Cobb was a wonderful man.

Posted by: Joey at Sep 19, 2016 6:18:57 AM

Sporter's in 1969...the hottest ticket in town. As the sounds of HAIR filled the bar, artists, writers, Harvard students, lawyers, Beacon Hill men in opera capes and ordinary blokes from Dorchester and Revere Beach kept this bar hopping till closing time. On one of my first nights there at age 19 I remember cops coming in for payoffs. An angry guy also threw a beer bottle across the bar and it hit its target: a boyfriend he wanted to get even with. Cops were called. Lots of blood but the boyfriend survived (I think). Sunday afternoons were also special there. Sporter's was a rustic bar but nobody then thought of it as leather per se. Absolutely wonderful place. Do not recall a sling, that may have come later.

Posted by: Thom Nickels at Jul 26, 2016 6:34:17 PM

The tragedy at Prism made me remember my days in Boston in the mid-1970s. We'd go to The 1270 and dance (disco, of course). And there was a dyke bar downtown somewhere- I worked there briefly, probably in 1976, As I recall, the women's bar was downstairs, and the men's bar was upstairs.

Posted by: Kristi at Jun 15, 2016 12:59:00 PM

I believe The Alley is closed; walked by the other day and there was a chain restaurant in its place.

Posted by: Jay at Mar 21, 2016 3:05:44 PM

What nice memories....anyone remember the Townhouse in Post Office Square that would open only on Sundays?

Posted by: Jay at Mar 21, 2016 3:01:30 PM

Sorry correction..
Fall of 1983.

Posted by: Analise at Mar 12, 2016 4:07:35 AM

I googled 119 Merrimack tonight because I was watching Black Mass on VOD and saw the old neighbor hood.
For a month during the fall of 1998 I was the resident straight female barfly at 119. Not for the noise but a friend of a friend owned it. I was at college but my mom got sick and I went back to Boston for a month. A crazy ex bf tried to stab me so all the boys at the Merrimack were my big brother body guards. One night they did beat him silly when he came in and tried to stab me. So much went on at the bar every night. It was the 80's. I didn't even have a clue that it was a leather bar. It was a bunch of awesome men showing me kindness and they always had a blast. They threw me my 18 birthday party.
I was looking to see if anyone remembers Son the bartender who I think was from Las Vegas. Had a roommate Stephan. They were kind to let me sleep on their couch. Sadly, I can't remember their last names. My buff Glenn Kelly who lived in back Bay and was more than ten years my senior took a bright but shy girl and showed her how to grow balls. We routinely did the tour of clubs with his entourage in 1981-1982. Glen made it to my wedding in 1987. A month later he died. He was one of the first diagnosed. One of the first on the quilt. The crew live on in my memory. They are all gone. But their spirit lives on.

Donny's last name I think was Jones. If you have any memories that you would like to share would live to hear from you.

Northern California

Posted by: Analise at Mar 12, 2016 4:06:05 AM

And no one mentioned the Ideal Diner which was next to Chaps ... great place to eat before or after bar hopping.

Anyone remember Mary Faith at the piano in Sporters?

Posted by: Jay at Feb 19, 2016 6:45:27 PM

The Napoleon Club was on Piedmont Street, not Pinckney Street as indicated.

What good times we all had...

Buddies was amazing....

No one mentioned 15 Lansdowne Street!

Posted by: Jay at Feb 19, 2016 6:44:09 PM

Does anyone remember Chris who I believe was a part-time
manager of the Napoleon Bar / Club? What was is last name?
May he rest in peace!


Posted by: David at Jan 26, 2016 7:44:51 AM

Darts was my first gay bar experience in the summer of 1979. It was located at 271 Dartmouth St in the Back Bay (where Papa-Razzi restaurant is)(or was..) I remember dancing to Donna Summer's Sunset People song and a hot Asian dude at the dancing floor wearing only a jock-strap, I was shocked and turn on at the same time..lol. The lighting arrangement was so nice. lots a good looking men dancing with their nice trim beards and nice shiny hair (style of the late 1970s)For some reason it was closed down I believe in the early 1980s..then Buddies opened right on Boylston St right across from the BPL, I remember the long lines to get in as how many guys felt embarrassed to be standing in line in such a busy street.. many cars would pass by and stared at the line of young men standing in line waiting to get in and these people driving through would make remarks or even yell some sort of epithed at us; It was the early 1980s and homophobia was still very strong. Sporters on Cambridge St (almost right across from Mass General Hospital) was a gay bar from the time when you couldn't tell there was a gay bar or a business behinf its walls as there was no sign, the windows where small and way up the way, almost invisible and there were only a couple of doors that were almost the same pale cream color as the rest of the facade, I believe it was a bit of a leather bar but all types of guys would patron this gay bar of the 1970s and 1980s.. I also remember one of the only sauna places in Boston's Financial District, it was called "Skyline" and it was on the third floor of an old building near the old Custom House. The first time an older friend took me there back in 1985. I had never been in a place where hot naked men of all races walked around naked in a semi-dark environment.. I believe they sold beer and stayed open way past 4 AM.. I believe the building got on fire in 1987 or 1988 and that was the last I herd of that place.. Someone here mentioned Safari, I went there maybe twice in the 6 or 8 years it was in business, at one point they closed down this place and it re-opened again for 3 more years until the Menino's Health Dept shut it down for good in 1999. They couldn't wait to close it.. There was a club called Lucifer in Kenmore Sq.back in the 80s.. I believe it was straight but I know almost half of the Boston University students would go to that club, get drunk and have wild sex on weekends.. That would not be heard of today.. not right next to a university campus with liquor licenses.. In many ways I think we've gone backwards, a trend that started with the conservative Reagan administration in the early 1980s.. Whatever happened to regular (not gay) guys wearing speedos? Everyone started wearing long to the knee shorts and starting covering up every good part of their bodies.. Thank God we are reversing again slowly and are beginning to see hot bodies wearing short shorts and tight sport pants once again.. hooray!

Posted by: chris at Sep 12, 2015 1:07:16 PM

Brian give me a shout, similar background at Skippers in the early 80's. I remember a lot of the people from those days, including a guy I'm still in touch with on FB named Cliff who worked over at Fantasy's In Town Campus and before that hung out at Skippers. Knew David Brudnoy from there too. Billmccpalmsprings@yahoo.com

Posted by: Bill McCarthy at Jul 5, 2015 10:20:22 AM

Skippers, I guess I use to hustle a bit at that bar. I remember listening to David Brudnoy for hours at the bar and other mature writers and artist. Didn't Skippers have a Mustang or some kind of a car in the backroom? Very cruisy.

Posted by: Brian at Jun 8, 2015 12:20:16 AM

Darts in the seventies. That was the bar that had saddles for barstools didn't it? I also remember running (physically) into Joan Rivers at Buddies on Boylston street. I asked her if she was a drag queen. She was so shocked or amused that she mentioned it the next day on a radio interview.

Posted by: Brian at Jun 8, 2015 12:16:05 AM

I had just come out of the Army, and at 22 moved to East Boston, from Maine, and was introduced to Sporters by a couple of friends one being Luigi. What a time it was. I went to other places on the list too, but Sporters was my "home" bar, where almost everyone I knew hung out.

Posted by: David at May 31, 2015 5:35:06 PM

There was a bar in the financial district, Franklin Street l think, that was straight during the day but at night, it was a lesbian bar with fabulous music. I think it was, at night, called Sisters. Anyone remember it?

Posted by: Maryellen Churnick at May 26, 2015 2:57:10 PM

Which one was called "252" and "The Bar," John Kenney?

Posted by: Ron's Log at Apr 8, 2015 1:57:19 PM

The bar was called the 252.. and then just called THE BAR

Posted by: John Kenney at Apr 8, 2015 12:25:20 PM

Don't forget about Styx which was right next to Chaps. Both owned by a guy named Harry.
Was there all the time in the 70's. GREAT place !

Posted by: dick at Sep 7, 2014 5:41:12 PM

Are you referring to the Houndstooth Restaurant on Boylston St.?

Posted by: Peter at Aug 27, 2014 9:09:29 PM

How about Maxwell's on Exeter St. Mid 70's?

Posted by: Peter at Aug 21, 2014 4:49:39 AM

Can we please not forget about ManRay in Cambridge's Central Square? I never missed a Thursday!

Posted by: Robert at Jun 16, 2014 12:55:36 PM

I went to my 1st gay clubs in Boston back in 1976. Reading this brings back some great memories! Another fabulous club, which was located near Fenway Park, was called the Rainbow. It had a huge dance floor, amazing sound system and a neon rainbow! It was one of Steve Rubell's first clubs. He later went on to open Studio 54 in NYC.

Posted by: Duke at Mar 22, 2014 6:21:02 PM

Safari wasn't the only sex club. Prior to that there was a real bathhouse, albeit grimy...but crazy fun for a fledgling gay...I think it was called Club Baths Boston on High Street...there til the mid-80s. VERY naughty.

Posted by: sf transplant at Jan 22, 2014 3:17:50 PM

All these posts bring back so many good memories. Does anyone know what ever happened to Tony Glaser (long time bartender at the original buddies)? He was known as "Miss Chicago" back then. Prior to working at Buddies, he was a bartender at Together, by the Biston Common, in the late 70's.

Posted by: Steven at Nov 14, 2013 4:23:16 PM

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