Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sister's Edge Letter to the Editor

I can't seem to get the Chronicle's online machine to accept my post so I will be satisfied with posting it here.

I've been standing quietly to the side (feeling a bit like Cassandra) and watching the buildup of the new women's bar space, hoping and wishing things might turn out differently this time.

Everyone can agree that lesbian bars in Austin are notoriously short-lived. There are probably as many opinions as to why as there are people involved. I’ll roll off the most likely:

1) Austin is a pretty open and accepting place and lesbians can go pretty much anywhere in town without being openly harassed for being gay. This makes a women’s bar more of a want than a need.

2) Women tend to drink less than men (and generally spend less money on alcohol) and while initially interested in the idea of a bar, most women do not think of a bar as an essential part of their culture and/or a place to hang out the majority of nights in a week.

3) This is probably the most controversial of theories: Women turn their backs on a business if everything is not to their liking. I’ve witnessed this time and again and it has really been the death knell of several attempts to create a women’s bar space in Austin. The old Sidekicks died as a result of Craigslist rants regarding the bar having unfriendly staff, dirty facilities and drug use, all spouted behind the protective shield of anonymity the online world can provide. I have already seen it begin for Sister’s Edge the day after its opening. Comments complaining about slow service, poor music choices, smoky environment and long lines are already being poured into the vat of cynical rants- Craigslist Women Seek Women.

If women in Austin really want a bar that will last they need to address the issues above. Obviously the men in Austin’s gay community can keep a bar thriving for years, as evidenced by Charlie’s and Oil Can Harry’s. If the stories that the bar owners of Sister’s Edge changed it into a men’s country bar because it was a lot less trouble than trying to cater to picketing and spotty crowds, lesbians need to find a different way to express their displeasure or accept that the occasional women’s night or special event may be all our vibrant and wonderful community of women can expect.

I hope I am wrong. This community should prove me wrong. I'd like nothing better.


At 2:09 AM CST, Blogger SoLaSinger said...

Here, here Eddie!
Well put. And I too hope that you are wrong and the new bar enjoys a thriving business with a long life.

Unfortunately, history says otherwise, the odds are not in their favor.


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