by Lindsay Marsak

I'm never at a loss of things to think about when it comes to straight appropriation of queer culture. Popular narratives include "Straight Dudes and Moisturizer," "Straight People and Casual Sex," and "Straight Girls Dance at the Gay Bar." Naturally, I can't think of many things straight people have lifted from lesbians specifically, as we seem to remain a mysterious, somewhat apparitional subculture in the wide world of queerness. Sure, you've discovered the beer commercials with the crazy augmented twins fighting to save feminism, or that fancy video with those delightful pop-star Russian lesbians fighting to save capitalism, both of which, coincidentally, seem to involve the potential for wet T-shirts, hard nipples, and some super-incestuous makeout action. However, I have yet to find any hint of authentic butchness, femmeness, or genuine lesbianism on the crib sheets of mainstream popular culture. Thankfully, I've found a great place for eager scholars of all things queer to start.

Perhaps you've noticed there's only one dyke bar in town. Or maybe you haven't noticed because you've been too busy brushing up on the Margaret Cho oeuvre or Sex and the City reruns. Yet, oddly enough, it's true. We only have one bar for the all the ladies who like ladies, dykes, lesbians, butches, bisexuals, femmes, trannies, and their pals. Dykes in Seattle aren't the only homos in this odd predicament. In major cities across the country, with no shortage of queers, lesbians lack choices when it comes to bars, clubs, and events. Lesbian bars are important cultural institutions because they provide an essential social space, and a unique place to meet fellow lesbians. These institutions are a key part of our culture, a culture populated by a vast array of women with a wide range of interests and subcultures. However, finding a place where a large number of ladies feel comfortable getting together, hanging out, hooking up, and representing this culture seems quite challenging.

So while gay men in Seattle have a wide range of bars to choose from, dykes have the unique burden--or advantage, depending on your perspective--of having just one bar for all the girls and bois. For lesbians, all roads lead to the Wildrose. Our friendly neighborhood dyke bar is a great place to find people in the community. However, our bar can also become a place to skip if you're trying to avoid some members of the community--say, for example, your exes or your enemies or their new girlfriends. I remember the relationship I had with my first dyke bar, and the trauma when my ex got our beloved hangout in the breakup. Having one bar can certainly be challenging. Suddenly losing that bar can be totally fucked.

Can you imagine what the only straight bar in town would look like? How lame would it be if you could only socialize in one place every night? What if your bar came with the guarantee that you'd eventually find every girl or guy you ever dated, fucked, regretted dating, fucked over, or got fucked over by? I imagine that if straight people only had one bar in town, they'd quickly become very creative about finding new ways to meet each other. Local dykes are applying this DIY approach to their predicament, mostly by creating a handful of monthly nights around town. These nights represent an increasing number of social options in a fine variety of spaces. While dykes have always appro- priated space in straight bars, with varying degrees of visibility, some queer ladies are now exclusively socializing in straight bars, swearing off lesbian spaces entirely.

In conclusion, we have one wonderful dyke bar and a few nights at local clubs. You, my straight friends, have blonde fembots and angsty foreign vocalists. Please master the art of visiting our cultural institutions, tipping your servers, and admiring our collective karaoke and slam-poetry prowess. Please ponder the unique social situation that occurs when a whole sexual community has to meet, mate, drink, and socialize in one bar. Then return to your bars a little older, and a little wiser. And don't be surprised if you run into me and my girlfriend back at your bar.

Lindsay Marsak is the creator of Vibrator: A Club for Dykes and Their Friends. Vibrator, with DJ El Toro, is the third Tuesday of every month at the Seattle Eagle.