Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Paris Decatur

Paris Decatur
Paris Decatur

Location: 308 West Ponce De Leon Avenue, Decatur, Georgia, USA

Opened: April 8, 2007

Closed: March 27, 2010

As we often see here at Lost Womyn's Space, establishing that a bar is/was "lesbian" and during what time period(s) is not necessarily an easy task. Paris Decatur is yet another example of this basic conundrum.

Take this September 2007 review from Citysearch which appeared just a couple of months after Paris Decatur opened her doors. After perusing this, you feel pretty sure that yes, Paris Decatur was one groovy lesbian space. Okay, the men were "welcomed" and all that (as they nearly always are in bars), but the spotlight was still clearly on the ladies:

After the closing of My Sister's Room, the women who love women in Decatur, were left without a nightspot of their own. Enter Paris-Decatur, in the old Supper-Club spot. Still cozy, warm vibe, and a place to get a nice drink with friends, or to meet new ones. Tuesday nights, are Paris Idol nights. Fun girlz, and they have Thursdays for the boyz of Decatur. But men are always welcomed here. Just a great bunch of gals, in one of Atlanta's best hoods! Sunday Brunch is coming soon.
  • Pros: Decatur's Best Spot For Womyn, Who Love Womyn!
  • Cons: Not Open On Mondays, But The Girlz Need Their Rest!
Then there's this review from December 2007 (also from Citysearch). This one also makes Paris Decatur sound like one great womyn's space:

Awesome alternative bar! soft decor and romantic
a place to meet women or just come and be yourself
Dance floor, pool room, gourmet appetizers.
  • Pros: Great crowd, nice atmposphere
  • Cons: none
We see similar overall themes in this review from July 2008, except that the place now appears more "mixed" than lesbian. Did the dudes go from merely being "welcomed" to taking over?

The grand dames of Decatur are saying "Oui, Oui" to this hot entry into the Eastside nightlife scene. A mod and cozy spot, there is nothing Hilton about this popular stand-in for the city's once hallowed lesbian bar, My Sister's Room. With none of the foliage or freaky fringe of the former, this spot is more hip and hot than its predecessor and makes for an exciting evening under the lights. A mixed crowd mingles here on weekends, sipping tantalizingly mixed cocktails in the snug bar area or nibbling gourmet appetizers with friends around a smattering of tables. After a few drinks, its time to take a turn on the diminutive dance floor to pop and Top 40 DJ sounds as well as more than few blasts from the past. During the week, Paris lures revelers with offerings such as open mic nights, wine tastings and always-popular karaoke.

At yelp, there is one review of Paris Decatur from 2008, and two from 2009. None of them even hint that this is a lesbian place, though it is generally classified as a "gay bar." The myspace page defines this place as an "alternative" bar, which to my mind, is vague in the extreme.

But just as soon as you figure that the place went "gay" or "mixed" over time, you find contradictory evidence. Like this review from August 2009 that refers to Paris Decatur as a "lesbian hangout" that "welcomes all." Deja vu all over again?

Nestled between Natalie's Fish House and the Christian Science Reading Room in a small, bustling shopping center in downtown Decatur is a club called Paris Decatur. Walk through the door and you will find a long bar with sitting areas decorated with a kitschy assortment of chairs, couches, and tables. The place is reminiscent of a New Orleans Brothel or a parlor from the 1920s. Tour further back and you will come across a decent sized dance floor with a makeshift stage to one corner; the place is surprisingly large given the outside indicates otherwise. Move further back through the doors to the left of the dance floor and you will come across a deck with a sitting area used for smoking (Paris is a smoke-free bar). Commonly thought of as a lesbian hangout, Paris Decatur welcomes all to attend. The club hosts special events, serves a variety of food, and most importantly, is open and serving until 4 a.m. So if you live in Decatur and don't want to stray to far from home, drop by the only game in town.

Then when she finally shuttered her doors for the last time, she's once again described as an "Atlanta lesbian bar." Except when she's referred to as "GLBT bar." Confused yet? From GA Voice:

Paris Decatur, the LGBT bar at 308 Ponce  de Leon Ave., will shut its doors after a final show on March 27, owner Susan Bird announced today.

“It has been a great run, and I have learned a lot.  I have had great support from my friends, and I have met so many interesting and wonderful people that I now feel privileged to call my friends,” Bird said in a press release.

Bird asked the club’s supporters to visit on March 20, 26 and 27 “to say goodbye and have one last drink with me.”

So what happened? Project Q explains the demise of Paris Decatur in a little more detail. Seems that Paris Decatur had problems connecting with her lesbian base in a consistent way. Doesn't sound like the strip mall location helped matters either:

Just nine weeks after the Bodyshop and Stage Door hosted their last hoorahs, the lesbian-owned Paris Decatur announces that it’s out of gay Atlanta’s nightlife picture after a final weekend on March 26-27. 

Paris Decatur interior
"It’s over! Thanks to everyone who supported Paris for the last three years,” owner Susan Bird tells Facebook followers of the bar. “It’s time to move on.”

Other than the “Sukeban!” parties, which had a loyal niche following, the bar in a Decatur strip mall struggled to get patrons through the door on a regular basis.

Bird & Co. tried everything from Boys Nights to special events and drastic drink specials. Some of those ideas worked as one-off successes, but on regular nights, the bar drew increasingly few to its cute, comfortable atmosphere and friendly vibe.

“I met some incredible people owning this bar, and I will miss that,” Bird continues in her statement. “We had some fabulous times…memorable at least!”

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