Girls finding their feet on the scene
It’s 9pm on a cold winter’s night in Taylor Square, Darlinghurst, and the lesbians of Sydney are emerging from the shadows for Arq’s new girls’ night, Lickalisious.
Sarah, 29, from Surry Hills, says she doesn’t have her hopes up, “girls’ nights are overly diluted and uninspiring”, but Kate, 22, from Enmore, says she is “really excited”.
“I am originally from the Central Coast, so this is awesome,” she said. “The DJs are always great here, and so are the shows.”
So how do you cater for the diverse group of women that make up the lesbian community? That has been the question on the lips of event organisers everywhere.
The solution, it seemed, was to hold a range of girls’ nights at different locations around the city.
The Bank Hotel, a Wednesday night institution for Sydney lesbians, held onto its die-hard fans while it closed for renovations but also managed to attract the younger girls, who are as shiny and new as the décor.
Those happy to turn up to work with a chronic hangover on Thursday mornings make their way from the Bank Hotel to the Sly Fox at Enmore, where only the dedicated remain.
Noticing a gap in the Friday night market, promoter Renee Schembri of Bitch Entertainment started Bitch at Deckbar on Taylor Square. Bitch was recently moved to Middle Bar at Kinselas, where it caters to the Friday night house music crowd.
Schembri tapped into another niche market with Bada-Bing at the Flinders Hotel, a hip-hop night for the urban set.
The closest the lesbian community got to a “clubbing” environment was Moist at Arq, which was last month re-branded as Lickalisious.
Producer Leanna McInnes said she noticed a gap in the market for a sexy and femme girls’ night.
“We have changed it from being your standard drag king night to a sexy girls’ night,” she said. “Yes, we still have drag kings, but Lickalisious has got more of a feminine feel to it.”
Taking femme to a whole new level is Cherry at Slide, which hosts theme nights and produces extravagant shows for the discerning lesbian crowd.
While the community has welcomed the more feminine girls’ nights, Sarah, 29, from Surry Hills said many girls were turned off by the “off-putting and sexually suggestive” naming conventions and promotions.
“As much as I’m absolutely loving the fact that social stereotypes about what constitutes a lesbian have dramatically broadened over the last few years, I’m put off by the contrived, posing little sex kittens on lesbian night promos,” she said.
“It has just become a boring accepted norm of subscribing to that plastic Barbie doll look that straight culture grew out of years ago.
“Our lesbian night fliers now look like what Jackson’s on George fliers looked like about five years ago.”
Flinders Hotel general manager and self-confessed “closet lesbian” Christopher Milne said his girls’ night Luscious, which grew from Lady Lux, appealed to such a woman.
“We wanted to create an environment where there weren’t too many young girls getting really drunk, not knowing their limits,” he said.
“It is for people who still feel like going out but they don’t feel as though they fit into any genre or any night along Oxford St or King St.
“We wanted the name of the night to be sophisticated, textural and appealing and we didn’t want to go anywhere with genitalia.”