On a Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles, Hot Donna’s Clubhouse turned part of Pan Pacific Park into a lesbian pop-up room.
About 500 people, most of them queer, lesbian, or gender non-conforming, attended the event in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles. They spent the warm summer day socializing, exchanging ideas, dancing and playing various games, including the wet t-shirt relay race, reports Q Voice News.
Lauren Richer, the 32-year-old founder of Hot Donna’s Clubhouse, hopes her plans for a stationary version of the space will transform the lesbian nightlife in Los Angeles.
We “don’t have a safe space for lesbians who may not want to party, drink, be part of the club scene,” said Richer, a West Hollywood resident, during an interview at Pan Pacific Park. “It’s important to have a space where there are other people who miss having fun and meeting people they love and making new friends.
“They don’t have that at the moment,” said Richer. “You need a place for it.”
If Richer is successful, Hot Donna’s Clubhouse would fill a void and meet a vital need in Los Angeles.
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Spaces are missing
The city of angels, the second largest city in the country, is a desert for the lesbian nightlife. There have been no bars or clubs for queer women or lesbians in Megaopolis for several years.
In 2017, a Los Angeles county’s lesbian bar, the Oxwood Inn, closed its doors. The 45-year-old San Fernando Valley pub was well known in the Los Angeles lesbian nightlife.
The last lesbian bar in West Hollywod, The Palms, closed in 2013.
According to the Lesbian Bar Project, there are only 21 lesbian bars in the US, only two of which are listed in California: Gossip Grill in San Diego and Wild Side West in San Francisco.
But the recently reopened Redz Bar in Boyle Heights serves Latina lesbians and queer people.
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Hot Donna’s clubhouse
Richer wants to create an integrative space that is aimed at queer women, trans women and gender-neutral people. The Hot Donna clubhouse team is looking for a location in West Hollywood, Silverlake or Echo Park.
Another meeting at Hot Donna’s Clubhouse is on Friday in Downtown LA. Ticket buyers will be informed of the venue via SMS and vaccination cards will be required for entry.
The Pan Pacific Park popup was also a fundraiser that raised just over $ 30,000 through ticket sales, merchandise, and the after-party at The Naughty Pig in West Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard.
Richer says it will take them approximately $ 2 million to open a stationary space, hire staff, and purchase decorations. While some investors have helped push that number forward, the company still needs a “big boost in funding,” she said. Hot Donna’s Clubhouse has activated a GoFundMe.
The size of the future space has not yet been determined, but Richer plans to open a place this year that fulfills two functions: Space for events during the day (e.g. an evening room to dance, drink and let go.
[It will be] “Where all your gays sit together in the garage, have a drink and laugh at something they get. And it’s a place where people can feel safe and accepted, ”said Richer.
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Queer Field Day
The hubbub around Hot Donna’s clubhouse picked up pace when Queer Field Day, a group that hosts unofficial LGBTQ + get-togethers in southern California, got involved.
Co-founder Lily Brown’s TikTok presence helped Queer Field Day attract large crowds and show the demand for non-male LGBTQ + events.
Richer said partnering with the Queer Field Day team to promote and run the Pan Pacific Park meetup gave Hot Donna’s clubhouse a boost.
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Lesbian safe space
Back at the park, Katy Felkner, who moved to college in Los Angeles last summer and volunteered at the pop-up party, said Hot Donna’s clubhouse was a much-needed safe place.
“As a woman presenting me, I don’t really feel safe in straight bars, and I don’t necessarily feel or look like I belong in bars that are geared towards gay men,” she said. “So it would be really nice to have a bar where I feel like I’m the target clientele.”
Richer understands this pressure. Richer and Hot Donna’s clubhouse supporters are embarking on a path that has not always worked. Places like Cuties (a now-closed queer coffee shop in LA) have tried to create a similar space that is not geared towards the nightlife. But it closed last August when owners saw no way to pay their bills and keep working during the pandemic.
“It feels really overwhelming to run a new movement, a new space in LA,” said Richer, “especially since there’s nothing in all of Los Angeles County.”
Important:We need to celebrate LGBTQ joy. Life depends on it.
Q Voice News is a digital news magazine that pulls LGBTQ news out of the closet. It serves the LGBTQ community in Los Angeles and beyond.
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