The Lexington Club was a popular lesbian bar in San Francisco that served the community for almost two decades. Founded in 1997, it closed its doors in 2015 after the area’s rising rent prices made it impossible for the bar to remain open as the affordable community hub it once was.
The bar had some notable customers, such as JD Samson of the bands Le Tigre and MEN.
The bar’s significance
‘I always felt like with the Lexington that there was a purpose of accessibility through affordability,’ says Lila Thirkield, owner of The Lexington Club.
Thirkield explained that The Lexington always kept their drink prices affordable and never charged a cover, as to never ostracize anyone of a lower socio-economic background.
‘To me it was like you created a family,’ JD Samson tells Thirkield. ‘Every time I was in San Francisco, I went there for a beer.’
‘It was a dive but people really felt like they had a place that they could always go to and be safe,’ Thirkield says. ‘And that was really our place, like, our cultural place.’
The Lexington Club was also known for being open on holidays, including Christmas and Thanksgiving.
‘But it’s a business model that tries to target less than 5% of the population,’ Thirkield says of the bar’s downfall.
‘A lot of things have changed. Rent pretty much doubled. You know if half of that 5% no longer lives in your neighborhood or even your city, what am I going to do? Be like, “come over the Bay Bridge to have one beer on your way home like you used to when you lived two blocks away?” It’s not going to happen,’ Thirkield explains.
Though many neighborhood bars have closed in San Francisco over the years, it was The Lexington’s closing that made the front page of local newspapers, including the San Francisco Chronicle.
Two filmmakers have been working to archive The Lexington’s history in order to create a full-length documentary about the importance of the bar.
Learn more about The Lexington and other noteworthy lesbian bars here.
GSN has reached out to The Lexington Club via Facebook requesting an interview.