The moment my eyes flitter open Friday morning, I think “Cherry-Popping & Frisky”. As odd as it is for my first thoughts to be bacchanalian, I look forward to the first evening of the weekend to get into social butterfly mode. No place better to spread wings than one where you feel safe exuding your gay-ness. And there’s no better place to start the weekend then Cattyshack.
A den of booze, beauty, and beats, bars like Cattyshack don’t normally lead me to think about the importance of queer, female-centered spaces. New York City dyke bars, the Lesbian Herstory Archives, Fire Island, and even Babeland stores are all other safe sites that exhibit the dynamic of queer girl culture. But besides these and Pride every year, where can a gay gal go to get her groove on without fear of discrimination and homophobia?
After this weekend at Catty, I was especially reminded of how, outside of these queer dance parties and select scenes, there are very few social spots where I can safely hug, kiss, or grab my girlfriend’s hand/ass in the Tri-State area. As sexually diverse and progressive as NY/NJ may be, there are hoods that will surely have wagging tongues, disapproving stares, Bible thumpers, and even a threat or two to my security. It’s hard to believe that in 2008, people still look at me and my partner like we are two-headed monsters invading Midtown on a Sunday afternoon.
That’s why I thank Goddess for gay bars. Places like Cattyshack allow lesbian, bisexual, and trans people agency to affection, acceptance, and discourse in a safe space. It’s not just a gathering of dykes looking to drink and dial, stalk their ex-girlfriends, or prey on potential one-night-stands; it’s a haven that lets queer women be free and 100% themselves.
In such queer spaces as Catty, dykes can get down and dirty on the dance floor, demonstrating their prolific libidos or escaping the bed death they’re suddenly suffering from. The bar becomes a confessional for lesbians, where the priest is the hot bartender and a few shots of Patron become penance. It’s such a space where you can come to stare out into oblivion, contemplating your own lesbian drama without a hetero romantic comedy on the tube to irritate you. Best of all, Catty is where you can look like a boy with the comfort in knowing you'll get treated like a boi.
A place like Cattyshack is vital to my queer womanhood. I don't just go to unwind, get a cold brew, and stare at the long-legged femmes waltzing up the outdoor deck steps for a smoke. Away from a home and work filled with TV, radio, and other hetero-centered distractions, I go to Catty to share moments, trade war stories, create memories, and catch up on celesbian gossip with friends and family, the "othered" others like me who can be their complete Sapphic selves without harm or judgment.
It has been almost forty years since Stonewall, since it was taboo, damning, and dangerous for dykes to convene in such spaces. So why do I get Catty on a Friday night? To celebrate how far we've come as queer women, and continue to fight for our right to party.