Cubbyhole is New York City's best-known lesbian bar. We visited the tiny West Village spot that's a 'second home' to its regulars - here's what it was like.
Juliana Kaplan/Libertina Brandt/Business Insider
- Cubbyhole is one of three predominantly lesbian bars left in New York City.
- On a recent Thursday night, we ventured out to capture the scene and get a feel for its history.
- We met newcomers, longtime customers, queer activists, and even an astrologer.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
There are only three lesbian bars left in New York City. One of those is Cubbyhole, a tiny spot quite literally tucked away in a corner of Manhattan's West Village.The shrinking number of spaces for queer-identifying women has been well-documented. In 2017, the Village Voice asked: "Why Are All The Lesbian Bars Disappearing?" A New York Times op-ed similarly lamented: "I Want My Lesbian Bars Back."Advertisement
But while these spaces shrink and change, the populations they serve have only increased - or at least become more visible. A 2018 Gallup poll found that number of American adults who identify as LGBT rose to 4.5% in 2017, and a third of Gen Zers do not identify as "exclusively heterosexual."
On a recent Thursday night, we ventured out to the lesbian stronghold to survey the scene. As always, there was a sizeable crowd at the bar, which can be found at the inexplicable intersection of West 4th and West 12th streets.Here's a look inside the still-booming scene at Cubbyhole.
Cubbyhole is located in the West Village at 281 West 12th Street. The Lower Manhattan neighborhood has played a big role in the LGBTQ+ history of New York City as well as the LGBTQ+ rights movement across the nation.
In fact, the West Village is home to The Stonewall Inn, a historic gay bar and national landmark that was the site of the famous gay rights riots in 1969.Advertisement
Cubbyhole first opened in 1987 under the name DT's Fat Cat. In 1994, late owner Tanya Saunders bought the name from the owner of a now-closed lesbian bar called Cubbyhole. The spot once known as DT's Fat Cat has been called Cubbyhole ever since.
Since then, it has served as a go-to hangout spot for NYC's queer community. On our way into the bar, we ran into Kat (left), Katie (center), and Tanisha (right), who are regulars.Advertisement
Cubbyhole's $3 margarita Tuesdays are a big hit with the crowd — and if you come on the earlier side on a weeknight, you're likely to get some free pizza. The bar also offers happy hour (which includes half-price well drinks, domestic beers, and house wines) until 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Stacy Lentz, co-owner of the Stonewall Inn, is a Cubbyhole regular.Advertisement
Regardless of the night, the bar always draws a lively crowd mixed with long-time customers and curious newcomers.
From celebrities to drag nuns to "Harry Potter," there's always something interesting to see at Cubbyhole.Advertisement
Cubbyhole is known and loved for its eclectic decorations. Here, it's decked out for Valentine's Day.
And while some are holiday themed, ornaments of all shapes, sizes, and colors hang from the ceiling year round.Advertisement
The music that's played at the bar is selected by the bar-goers. The jukebox in the back boasts a huge selection of music — from classics to current hits.
Since there are only three lesbian bars left in New York City, Cubbyhole is considered a special place to members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community. Michelle (left), Maggie (center), and Christine (right) described Cubbyhole as a safe place where everyone is friendly to one another and conversation is everywhere.Advertisement
Jorge Fernandez (left) and Samantha Stott (right) said they both come to Cubbyhole at least once a week. They're roommates who are both getting their masters in opera.
While the space is less than 600 square feet, having several different seating options makes it feel more spacious.Advertisement
Randy has been a bouncer at Cubbyhole for two years.
Danny (left) has been serving up drinks at Cubbyhole for about 10 years.Advertisement
Miss Simone has been doing astrology readings at Cubbyhole for over 10 years. She said that she has read everyone from Boy George to Amanda Lepore. She said the only celebrity she hasn't gotten along with is Ru Paul.
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