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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 [email protected]

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 [email protected]

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 [email protected]

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


Regarding the comment: "Wasn't there one called The Elephant Room in the 70s? Up near BU on Commonwealth?"

Yes, I was the DJ there. It was down the alley, behind the str8 club Mirage.

It didn't last long. At that time, mid-70's, Gays felt it was too risky going there. They didn't feel safe - concerned about the possibility of altercations that might arise walking past the Mirage crowd.

There was a huge amount of Homophobia back then! Hence the club's demise came quickly.

If my URL is posted with this comment, you'll find some of my sets from when I worked at CHAPS. I played Tuesday Nights from '89-95, along with some Sunday T-Dances. The sets are free and downloadable! Enjoy!

Posted by: Steven Burke at Jan 20, 2024 5:57:13 PM

The bar to which you refer on Boylston Street across from the Public Garden was probably Skippers. It was located in the block where the Four Seasons hotel and condos are now a block or two before Park Square. It was a great, but it was only there for a couple of years, if that. You walked into the main part of the bar and then in the back to the right was another room where they would sometimes be dancing. And other things. This would be 1980 to 81.

Posted by: Mitchell at Dec 27, 2023 5:32:02 PM

I worked at Mr. Dominic’s in Lynn for a while early80s Mr. Dominic used to give us 5 folded packets we were expected to sell during the night. I think the packets would have actually tested negative. Lol

Posted by: DDR at Nov 15, 2023 10:17:54 PM

The first gay bar I went to was Pipeline on Lansdowne Street. A few older friends took me. I think I was 16. Back then you could get into any gay club if you were under aged

Posted by: Scott Gauthier at Sep 20, 2023 9:23:48 AM

I remember the dance music as the best ever at Chaps. Because it was the eighties, and computers weren't so common, it's been hard for me to find DJ mixes even close to comparable to the music then. I hear of lot of top 20 from the eighties listed as "Gay Music". It was just so much better than that and if anyone knows how I could once again here the music played in the clubs here, I would be greatly grateful.

Posted by: TIm at Apr 12, 2023 10:06:34 AM

Wasn't there one called The Elephant Room in the 70s? Up near BU on Commonwealth?

Posted by: Bruce at Mar 2, 2023 4:57:15 AM

"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."

I think you mean 'The Bar' at 252 Boylston Street, where I came out. I remember standing in front of the Commons, looking left and right for anyone I knew who might see me, then running across Boylston to enter the gay world.

I picked 'The Bar' to come out because it advertised a coupon in the Boston Phoenix. See the URL.

Posted by: Kanaan at Sep 29, 2022 12:21:47 PM

I saw Sylvester at Pipeline on Landsdowne St, what a show! I remember the freight elevator and the big tractor tires for lounge seating. Didn't last long though...

Posted by: Dave G at Jul 14, 2022 10:08:00 AM

I'm writing a novel which takes place in 1972 in Boston and SF. I've done some research but am looking for someone who might be open to talking to me about their recollections of gay bars and bath house/s in Boston (C) 1972. If anyone is open to talking to me, let me know. I'd love to portray this well.

Posted by: Pam L at May 17, 2022 10:38:00 AM

Don't forget about these bars either:

Arena – 835 Beacon St.
Bobby’s – 69 Canal St.
Bolt – 174 Lincoln St.
Café Jean Paul – at the Lewis Warf
Narcissus – 533 Commonwealth Ave.
Paradise – 180 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA
Randolph Country Club – Randolph, MA
The Sling – 228 Cambridge St.
Sporters – 228 Cambridge St.
Quest – 1270 Boylston St.
Playland – 21 Essex St.
Mirage – 1 Congress Ave.
Fritz - Chandler Inn, Berkley St.
Metro - (and later known as Citi) on Lansdown St.

1270 was also known as Maximum Security and then Tattoo for a short while too.

Posted by: Luke at Apr 30, 2022 3:16:36 PM

What about the bars not in Boston? Like Fantasies in Ipswich, Dirocco's in Tyngsboro, Club 241 in Worcester, The Front Runner in Manchester NH, Members in Portsmouth NH...Good times!

Posted by: Luke at Apr 30, 2022 3:04:40 PM

Answer to first question at top of this page: I remember, back in the late 60's there being a Hays-Bickford cafeteria-style restaurant in that location and right next door there was a similar restaurant but the name escapes me. A few gay guys hung out there at night.

Posted by: Jerry at Jan 3, 2022 5:36:09 PM

Loved remembering all these clubs .Who could ever forget the barmaid Tex! Such a bbeautiful blonde and the mother all wish they had..RIP

Posted by: David at Dec 14, 2021 2:50:16 PM

Boston had a few Bathhouses. Alas all are gone now. Even the CBC in Providence has closed. Only one left in New England now is Megaplex in Providence, RI.

The Regency
CBC LaGrange St.
297 Franklin St.
Safari Club

Posted by: Bathhouse Betty at Aug 2, 2021 12:27:09 PM

Club DV8 at Spit/Metro was the first, best and most innovative place for real techno music trance and a place you could really lose yourself in the music lights and beats without the nonsense of the large trendy clubs it was connected to in the same complex.

Posted by: Chaz at Jul 18, 2021 8:18:07 PM

I worked at Skippers 1week before opening for about 5 weeks in 1980 I believe. Loved Buddies on Boylston, Chaps, Luxor video bar in early 80’s. I also bartended at Club Cafe from 85-89. The 80s gay bar scene in Boston wasGR8. Does anyone remember Spit?

Posted by: Peter at Jul 8, 2021 5:09:12 PM

Memories of all the different gay bars in Boston to what 2 or 3 left today?You could go out for a night of bar hopping and go to a dozen different clubs and clientele . Then end up at Kens or Buzzies Roast beef for knishes or Howard Johnson’s on rt. 3 for pancakes or if I was able to ditch my friends end up in the Fens! All great places filled with the after hours gay crowd!

Posted by: Jeff at Jul 5, 2021 11:09:47 AM

I see no mention of Styx which was located next door to the original Chaps behind the public library. When Styx closed, Chaps incorporated the space.

Posted by: Charles at Jun 13, 2021 12:10:43 PM

The bar across the commons on Boylston St. where the Four Seasons is now was called Skipper's

Posted by: Charked at Jun 13, 2021 12:06:12 PM

In response to G_Boston, yes I remember Steve Clark, I worked with him at the Ramrod from 1990-1995 he died of AIDS somewhere around 1996? I'm not sure...He was a sweetheart

Posted by: Andrew B Anderson at Apr 30, 2021 4:20:41 PM

I remember pipeline. They had mommy dearest night. Coat hangers everywhere

Posted by: Jodie at Apr 19, 2021 5:48:02 AM

I worked at “The Bar” back in the 70’s.great place. It was me, Tish,, Dolly, Gary Dotterman, Eddie.. wow, so many memories....if only we could go back......

Posted by: Derek at Mar 20, 2021 12:54:16 PM

Does anyone remember or know a bartender from the RamRod in the 1990's; Steve Clark?

Posted by: G_Boston at Feb 16, 2021 1:10:16 PM

Boston Globe Feb. 8, 1989 https://www.newspapers.com/clip/48903330/boston-globe-08-feb-1989/

Gay bathhouse fire under investigation

Fire officials yesterday had not determined what caused a two-alarm fire at a gay bath house in the financial district Monday night. "They're working on it," Boston Fire department spokesman William Murphy said yesterday. Murphy said the fire at Club 297 on Franklin Street caused $300,000 in damage to the five-story building that also houses Somewhere Else, a lesbian bar and restaurant. The building next door at 381 Franklin Street sustained $2,500 in damage from the fire, he said. Club 297 was closed last month by the city for violating health and fire codes.

A U.S. Appeals Court decision relating to this fire can be found at https://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-1st-circuit/1264954.html

Posted by: Ron at Jan 2, 2021 4:37:33 PM

I worked on Broad Street out of college around 1990. There was a place that burned mysteriously located at 297 Franklin Street (maybe owned by the mob). I heard that was where a bathhouse once was.

Posted by: ps at Jan 2, 2021 3:51:24 PM

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