3 min

Women-only at Lick

Dykes finally get their own bar

Credit: Gareth Kirkby

Can a women-only bar make a go of it in Vancouver in 2003? It’s a question being asked in the lesbian community with the opening of Lick at the Lotus Hotel.

Some promoters think gay men are needed to pay the bills. Suzan Kriegar, former owner of the Quadra Club, says Vancouver’s women’s community is just too small to sustain a full-time women-only club. Her current venues also include men and one reason is economic, she says.

Some promoters also believe men are now welcome by partying lesbians. Trigger ran the Lotus bar in the bottom of the Heritage House Hotel for more than a decade and is now a party promoter. She believes women’s attitudes toward sharing venues with men have relaxed and the presence of men is okay.

But for lesbians who want a women-only space, there’s Lick. Business partners Stacy Clark and Phil Cook opened the bar during Pride Week at the former Milk location.

Clark aims “to create a space for women to hang out, in a vibe dedicated to women, with female artists, entertainers and bar staff.

“It is not about excluding men-it’s about providing a space for women. There’s lots of spaces for men but not for women in Vancouver and it’s really important for women to have a space where they can just go and hang out with other women.

“There’s something to be said for [exclusive] space for women and [exclusive] space for men-as long as there’s plenty of spaces for both.”

Adds Cook: “We felt there were lots of places in Vancouver for the hetero dynamic to play. There’s lots of places for gay men to express themselves, but not one which identified itself exclusively to women.”

Kriegar has for the past three years produced the Drag King Vancouver (DVA) competitions at 23 West Cordova. She tried her hand at the women-only event business years ago at the now-defunct Quadra Club on Homer Street.

Her experience is that “there’s not enough women here to support a club being open on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. That’s why there [hasn’t] been a women-only space.”

Clark recognizes that past women-only venues have failed but thinks that her bar’s small space will “overcome some of the hurdles of trying to pack a larger club.” And the gay history of the Lotus Hotel should help.

Trigger recalls the popularity of women-only nights at The Lotus Club more than 10 years ago.

“Friday nights at The Lotus bar was women-only and it was packed. On Saturdays, Charlie’s had a women-only night and those were packed, too. They were always the most popular nights.”

Trigger has moved on and is now the driving force behind Girlgig Productions-which is geared for women but also welcomes men to its venues.

“Honestly, I can say things have changed,” Trigger says. “Most women don’t have a problem with men at their events.

“I’m dealing with a different thing here,” she explains. “Girlgig Productions is entertainment specific and brings artists and entertainment to the city. Who am I to say you can’t come and see this artist or group?”

Leigh Cousins from Flygirl Productions says her events are also male inclusive “because it’s the right thing to do. We can’t say no to gay men or open-minded straight men. Especially gay men,” she adds as an afterthought-“they’re a good vibe.”

Cousins understands, however, that Lick is in a small room and that there might be animosity among women waiting in line to get into a women’s club when there are men seated inside. Her attitude is “but if there’s room, what the hell?”

Clark says Lick will be open to all who identify as a woman or as female. “We have a transgendered woman who helps at the door, sometimes. We don’t want to be the gender police, but we don’t want the high school football team coming down here in pom-poms wanting to get in.”

If a group of straight men arrives at a Flygirl event, security will talk to them, Cousins says. “They let them know that okay, this is the gig.… This is what you can and cannot do. Don’t think you’re gonna come in here to pick up chicks and walk out of here with two lesbians, because that’s not gonna happen; and know that we will be keeping an eye on you.

“And if they’re idiots, they’re out!”

Clark acknowledges that some women like to socialize with men, while others do not. “And it’s nice that they now have a choice,” she says, noting that she enjoys herself immensely at Girlgig and Flygirl events.

“We have had numerous ‘well, it’s about time’ comments from men who are passing by the club on their way to the drag queen show,” says Lick co-owner Cook, who works door for Lick.

“But mostly, we have had women saying ‘thank you.'”

“It’s a completely different vibe when it’s just women,” concludes Clark.


455 Abbott St.

Wed: Chill & Cruise.

Thu: Live Jazz.

Fri: Lipstick.

Sat: Sweat.

Last Sat of the month: Body Perve fetish (men allowed)