Location: 2625 North Halstead Street, Chicago, Illinois, USA
Opened: June 1995
Here's the rather coy venue description from Clubplanet:
Girlbar - What's in a name? We'll give you a clue -- this bar doesn't feature exotic dancers, if that's what you're thinking. The lipstick chicks are cute though. Wednesday is "Boy Bar" night.
But make no mistake. This was a bar for girls--"for girls who like girls"--as this December 1996 article in the Chicago Tribune makes abundantly clear:
Girlbar is exactly what its name says -- a bar for girls. More specifically, a bar for girls who like girls.
But unlike the so many other girl bars -- with their off-street entrances, dark windows and generally unfriendly neighborhood environs -- Girlbar is in the heart of Lincoln Park, with shiny Windexed panes overlooking Halsted Street.
"You know what I love about this place? That it's in a neighborhood where lesbians actually live and work," says Laurie, a regular at Girlbar. "It's nice without being flashy."
From the outside, Girlbar looks more like a house where somebody's having a party. And on the inside, though stylish in an understated sort of way, it's friendly and unpretentious. The girls are mostly white, mostly middle-class, attractive and urban. Boys -- regardless of sexual orientation -- are welcome, but good behavior's required.
Open since this year's Gay and Lesbian Pride Day last summer, Girlbar is a two-level comfort zone.
There's a second floor with darts and two pool tables. Music plays throughout the bar but flirting and conversation are encouraged upstairs by both lowered volumes and plenty of seats for those who just want to hang out and make pithy comments at the table sharks.
The first floor boasts a dance floor that's dark enough for sexy grinding and deep kissing but also a well-lit front bar surrounded by tables and chair that look out on Halsted Street.
"I love this part," says TJ, a charming raconteur with a seat at a table with a street view. "Just look at them out there. . . ."
A bunch of guys are outside trying to be cool while looking up at the windows. Some are actually the valets from the hyper-hetero Indigo Oyster bar next door.
TJ waves, threatens to make a face, but finally turns her attention back to the table. A ravishing, sinewy blond has just joined the group.
"She's an aspiring bisexual," a friend informs TJ about the newcomer.
"Oh, no," says TJ, eyes twinkling, "I'd say more like an inspiring bisexual."
Girlbar's awesome!!!....Wed nites 'GoGirlsMusic' features great female musicians....and it's FREE!!!! - anonymous, 10/15/2001
I have been to GB numerous times and have always found it to be a huge meatmarket and quite clicky. The manager/owner is as mature as a 3-Year-Old. I do not recommend Girl Bar to anyone. If you want a decent bar go to The Closet or Stargaze in Andersonville. - anonymous, 08/27/2001
you've been around a couple of years now and you are by far the best lesbian club/bar in chicago. When you walk in the door you get a feeling of pride and you know you are in a classy place where people know how to handle themselves unlike a certain suburban club where there is nothing but DRAMA. - Anon., 05/31/2001
Girlbar is a cute bar with a great crowd. The bartender, Jen, she's amazing! And my girl spins there every Thursday! If you like to shake your ass, Beth's got the right music :-) So, every Thursday and every first Friday of the month are amazing. - Carrie, 05/07/2001
I saw one informal blogger account saying that Girlbar closed down in 2001, but nothing more definitive than that. Something called Girl Bar Chicago started up in February 2007, but this was a monthly circuit party imported from Girl Bar in Los Angeles. Not the same thing.
Photo of Girlbar exterior