Bum Bum Bar, a lesbian bar in Jackson Heights, Queens unexpectedly closed after over two decades in business. It was one of the last four lesbian bars in New York City.
Bum Bum Bar
Bum Bum (pronounced ‘boom boom’) Bar opened at 63-14 Roosevelt Avenue in the early 1990s. It saw three generations of LGBTI owners, and is thought to have closed in late 2018. The closure was officially announced in a 1 March press release by the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving sites in NYC significant to the LGBTI community.
‘It’s a really sad commentary on the state of nightlife for LGBTQ women,’ said Ken Lustbader, Co-Director of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project. ‘This was one of the only places that provided the opportunity for LGBTQ women to meet each other in a safe environment.’
The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project’s work in preserving this bar’s history, along with that of other sites, ‘document an invisible history to show the public that LGBTQ history is American history.’
Bum Bum Bar’s clientele was mixed, but mainly a working-class Latina lesbian crowd. Its name was derived from the Brazilian term ‘bum bum,’ meaning women’s behinds. The bar was a critical player in supporting the inaugural Queens Pride Parade in 1993. Its 175-person capacity with a large dance floor made it the perfect spot for Pride events.
According to Jackson Heights Post, it is unclear why the bar closed. The most recent owner, Danny Hart, could not be reached by them for comment.
Danny Hart spoke to Go Magazine back in 2016 about the significance of the bar. According to that interview, the two gay men who founded the bar named it after Brazilian Bum Bum Contests to pay ‘homage to their beautiful women customers.’
‘I was shocked to hear they were closed,’ Gwen Shockey, a Brooklyn-based artist studying queer nightlife told Jackson Heights Post. Shockey guesses that the closure may have something to do with rising rent costs. Additionally, general salary differences between men and women might have played a role.
‘People have frequently mentioned that it’s harder for women to open and maintain spaces because of pay discrepancies,’ she said. ‘Women aren’t making as much money as men on the dollar. And it makes it harder to succeed or have as consistent of a nightlife following as gay men.’
Final Three Lesbian Bars in NYC
With the closing of Bum Bum Bar, there are only three lesbian bars remaining in New York. They are Cubbyhole and Henrietta Hudson, both in the Greenwich Village area of Manhattan, and Ginger’s Bar in Park Slope, Brooklyn.