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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


My email address, for the last 20 years, has been dedicated to the Jolar Cinema, which I never got to visit but I always liked the idea of! Anyway, I was an early-to-mid '90's straight kid, so I missed out on a LOT of places, but thankfully not Jaques or The Loft, which was a wonderful deep house / garagey-place and I even got my bike mugged from me one night on the way back home but, looking back, it was all worth it!

Posted by: Alistair at Apr 1, 2018 3:06:36 AM

119 Merrimac was called the Rifleman when I first visited in about 1982. Dick Gordon was the manager and his boyfriend was Donnie a former go go dancer. Dick taught me how to get into all the other bars as I was 14 in 1982. Tricky Dicky. Spent a few nights at their apartment, first experience with many many things including mescaline. Fun times, anybody around from that era?

Posted by: Bill McC at Mar 11, 2018 9:35:25 PM

Mid-1970's, Jimmy Mitchell's Regency Baths on Otis Street (downtown crossing) with the rickety old elevator, dollar night Mondays and totally dark steam room? Then Mitchell opened Saunatek above a lesbian bar in the financial district in the 1980's - what were the exact dates? The result of a fire saw its demise? The baths beneath the Carnival Bar was the Barracks - $0.75 lockers on what weekday night? What year was the fire that closed the Club Lagrange baths? (I cut out the article about it in the Boston Globe at the time but I don't have the date - I still have that article). The Club Lagrange was rumored to have have set up a satellite baths off Cambridge Street. Did it ever open? It also tried to set up a baths in (of all places) Springfield (Ma.) on Main St. Did it ever see the light of day? It also managed the Club Hartford (Ct.) - I was a regular attendee there from 1974 to about 1985 when it closed. What was the name of that leather bar on Huntington Ave (a block in from the Y)?
What was the name of that weekend-only dance club on Dartmouth St between Boylston and Newbury? And any mention of establishments in Boston's gay history cannot forget about the Esplanade Book Store on Charles Street in the early 1970's. Anyone remember Gene there?

Posted by: D at Jan 9, 2018 1:59:57 PM

The mention of the bathhouse on Lagrange Street made me visual a Boston that is long gone. There was another one beneath the old Carnival Lounge on Boylston Street. If you went out the backdoor and down the alley you would arrive at the side door of the Avery Hotel. The women’s bar was on the first floor and the men’s on the second.

Posted by: Mark at Oct 22, 2017 1:36:51 PM

Playland!! It was an awesome experience!! Jolar cinema on the corner! All the "stars" would show up for cocktails after work!! Every night it was jammed! Hustlers galore! Pictures of stars on the walls, 70's 80's WILD! Club Baths just up the street!!

Posted by: dan cobb at Oct 3, 2017 2:50:28 PM

Hi there. Does anyone remember a gay bath house in the old Combat Zone during the 1970s or 1980s? I believe it was at the corner of Washington St and La Grange St. Does anyone know the name of the place? What happened to it? Thanks. OMG!! I used to live in this place, lol! Called the Club Baths! It was part of a chain of baths across the country!! I loved it!! The only one I go to now is the one in Providence RI.

Posted by: dan cobb at Oct 3, 2017 2:44:11 PM

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? It was off Boylston street down an alley, the alley is still there, it was a delicious, seedy bar called The Spike! Walter has passed on, remember Bobby Daigle?

Posted by: dan cobb at Oct 3, 2017 2:40:37 PM

Brings back a lot of memories. I absolutely remember Walter at Chaps.
Also Suki, Danae and the hot bartender Raul...ah the good old days
There was also a post about scary drag queen, Sylvia Sidney!!

Posted by: Daniel at Aug 26, 2017 11:35:09 AM

I'm trying to locate Bill AKA vera he worked at buddies in the early 80s also he worked at sporters he was also a theatre critic I lived downstairs from him on beacon hill in the 80s iv lived in FL SINCE 1986 I GREW UP IN Dorchester I visit in the summer id like to find BILL..

Posted by: Paul at Jul 8, 2017 6:31:20 PM

Does anyone remember Walter, the gorgeous black muscle guy who was a bouncer at Chaps and also at The Other Side? If he approved of you at The Other Side, he would shove you through a hidden door to the dance floorwhen no one was looking.

Posted by: jayess at May 3, 2017 4:31:48 PM

Porters - Sporters on the matchbooks had no sling

Posted by: Seamus at Apr 22, 2017 10:07:31 PM

Wasn't that the Club Baths? The one with a roof deck. I moved to Boston in early 1980 and visited it a couple of times.

It disappeared at the time AIDS emerged, same as most bathhouses. I don't know if there was pressure from the city or what it was that precipitated the closure.

Posted by: Ron at Mar 24, 2017 1:46:11 PM

Hi there. Does anyone remember a gay bath house in the old Combat Zone during the 1970s or 1980s? I believe it was at the corner of Washington St and La Grange St. Does anyone know the name of the place? What happened to it? Thanks.

Posted by: Paul at Mar 24, 2017 12:56:59 AM

I remember chaps Jan 83 that was my first gay bar ever,also buddies 1270 sporters,skippers,later Haymarket,Washington st ,used to be combat zone,now high rise ,condos,hotels there,also,miss all the interesting people I met and friends I lost,also 119 Merrimack been there early 83 and 1270 that time too

Posted by: M at Jan 1, 2017 7:25:19 PM

I started at 14 and was let into the other side just by letting the doorman grab my ass..Lol I think his name was Michael but not sure . I lived on beacon hill and hung with a few drag queens who were popular at the time and may have done shows. Who remembers Sylvia ? She was the first queen i ever layed eyes on and believe me at 14 that was scary.

Posted by: Joe at Dec 24, 2016 6:10:02 AM

So many wonderful memories of Sporters, Chaps, Darts and the Eagle in the South End. These are just a few of the bars that influenced my early years. So many precious. friends that are no longer here to reminisce with. However, their memories will live on forever in me and others of my generation who live on.

Posted by: Mark at Dec 6, 2016 11:37:29 PM

Yes the bouncers name at 1270 was Phil,can't remember his last name,sweet guy,passed in the early 90s....R.I.P PHIL

Posted by: Scott D. at Nov 30, 2016 11:53:44 AM

As far as the answer to the question regarding the club where the four Seasons is now it is NOT 119 merrimac,it was Skippers,basicallyto put it bluntly it was,a hustler bar,I used to go because the bouncer let me in even though I was obviously not of age lol.
Scott D.Boston

Posted by: Scott D at Nov 30, 2016 10:34:58 AM

Anyone remember the bouncer at 1270 his nickname was Gorilla, he was really built?

Posted by: Billy D at Nov 24, 2016 7:04:24 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

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