FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
When did the project start?
We began this project after hearing stories of these bars from our dear friend and honored elder, Alda Talley. We were fascinated by this peek into the window of our queer heritage, and with dismay we wondered why there are no longer any dyke bars in New Orleans–not a single one–where our younger generation of queer women can gather. Deeply compelled by the myth and the mystery of the lost dyke bar, we started interviewing the patrons of almost dozen dyke bars that existed between the 1970s-80s in New Orleans in the spring of 2013.
What makes the loss of the dyke bar significant to New Orleans?
Bars have historically functioned as community centers for queer and trans people who were often shunned by their families. New Orleans has an especially rich history as it has been a haven for LGBTQ people from all over the South for generations.
What are the overall goals of this project?
We have 3 primary goals: 1) to create original art, including an original theatrical performance, sourced from oral history interviews we conducted with people who frequented dyke bars in New Orleans from 1970-80,; 2) to create a publicly available archive of these interviews; and 3) to create intergenerational spaces through showings of our art and through other social events.
Who are you interviewing?
We are interviewing people (primarily but not exclusively women) who were involved in some way with dyke bar life in the 70s and 80s. We are not focusing on any one bar specifically. We are seeking stories from all of the lesbian bars from the period. We are also opening to interviewing people with stories about the dyke bar scene in the earlier than the 1970s.
Why are you only focusing on the 70s and 80s?
We chose to begin with the 70s and 80s because it is the time period we expect to reflect in our theatrical performance. However, for archival purposes, we are interested in hearing stories from other eras too.
Are you only interviewing women?
No, we are interested in interviewing people of all genders. We are interested in hearing from anyone who has stories about these bars.
Do you interview people outside New Orleans?
Yes, we will interview anyone, anywhere, via phone or Skype.
What questions do you ask in the interview?
The interview is more of a conversation. We talk about what the interviewee was doing in New Orleans in the 70s and 80s, what bars s/he/they went to, what the bars were like, as well as the political and social climates.
I went to bars in the 70s and 80s. Can you interview me without it being recorded?
Our preference is to record the interview so that we can make it available to future generations in the archive and podcast series, with your permission of course! However, if there is a story you want to tell us but don’t feel comfortable recording it, we would still love to hear it.
What are you doing with the recorded interviews?
Our plan is to transcribe the interviews and make them available publicly. We will only make them available after the interviewee has reviewed and approved it. Selected excerpts have been edited into a podcast series by the Last Call podcast team. Some interview audio is also in the full length show Alleged Lesbian Activities.
How are you connecting with people to interview?
Mostly through word-of-mouth. We meet potential interviewees through other interviewees but are open to anyone who approaches us.
How many bars were there?
The exact number is debatable, but we mapped Queer Cartography, a project of the Neighborhood Story Project, to make a map of these spaces in downtown New Orleans over time. (http://queercartography.tumblr.com/post/114695140082/last-call-and-the-disappearance-of-dyke-bars-in).
Why are you creating a performance?
We are artists who are committed to critically examining important issues in our art. Our performance will ask: what happened to these bars? What purpose did they serve for our community, and what can we do to renew that purpose?
When is the full run of the performance?
Alleged Lesbian Activities will premiere September 2016.
I’ve seen some materials where you use the word “dyke. Why are you using that word?
We use the word “dyke” frequently in this project because we have heard several elders use this word. We recognize that language is difficult and the politics of “reclaiming” language is particularly fraught. Language is of particular concern to marginalized people as it can often be used as a tool to exclude, demean and categorize involuntarily. We understand that dyke is not a term that all women who love women identify with and have decided to change our primary project name from “Dyke Bar History Project” to “Last Call: New Orleans Dyke Bar History Project” to be more inclusive.
Do you want pictures or other memorabilia?
Yes! We would love to see pictures or other memorabilia as they really help us in creating our performance aesthetic.
Who is organizing this project?
The project was founded by Rachel Lee, Sara Pic, and Bonnie Gabel. Currently Asia Vinae Palmer, Blu Reine, Bonnie Gabel, Erin Roussel, indee mitchell, and Sara Pic are the Last Call core-organizers. We have backgrounds in the arts, social justice organizing, and activism. Free Feral produced the first season of our podcast with Rachel Lee and Peter Bowling.
How can I get involved?
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or like us at facebook.com/dykebarmusical to get more information. If phone is more your style you can call or text us at 504-459-9890. We are looking for people with stories, people with organizing backgrounds, performers, event producers--anyone with a passion for theses stories. We look forward to talking to you.