|The Lesbians of Berlin (1928)|
Location: Berlin, Germany
The era of the Weimar Republic...represents the first forum in which a recognizably modern lesbian identity gained mass visibility and a reasonable level of acceptance. German women had been allowed political particpation since 1908 and a strong women's movement had existed since the mid 19th-century. Magnus Hirshfeld's Scientifiic Humanitarian Committee had included women among its members for decades and this political and cultural support lead to a strong lesbian community that was often conscious of the need for political organization. Thus many lesbian bars in Weimar Berlin carried a stamp of approval from Hirshfeld's committee and the several national lesbian magazines, which flourished during the era and encouraged women to patronize only these bars.
In 1928, the German lesbian writer Ruth Roellig (1878-1979) assembled a guidebook to Berlin's lesbian clubs, Berlins lesbische Frauen (The Lesbians of Berlin), which featured a preface by pioneering German sexologist and activist Magnus Hirschfeld (see the cover above.) Ruth M. Pettis elaborates:
After an introduction deploring religious attitudes toward lesbians and decrying discrimination against "priestesses of Sappho," Roellig describes the ambience and offerings of 14 Berlin clubs and dance halls that catered to lesbians. At this time in Germany, lesbians were not subject to criminal prosecution, but they faced ostracism and employment discrimination, and Roellig is keenly aware of such injustices. Indeed, her introduction must be considered a contribution to the literature of the Geman homosexual emancipation movement.
Café Domino, Marburger Strasse 13, 1921-1930
Café Dorian Gray, Bülowstrasse 57, 1927-1933
Florence Tamagne, A History Of Homosexuality In Europe: Berlin, London, Paris, 1919-1939 (2006) mentions Cafe Dorian Gray. She writes, "Dorian Gray, 57 Bülowstraß, was one of the oldest and better-known homosexual establishment. It was a mixed club, with certain days reserved for women and others for men. Friday, for example, was 'elite day for ladies', with dancing alternating with stage shows. Theme nights included a Bavarian alpine festival, and a festival of the Rhenish grape harvest. The cuisine was refined Viennesse, the atmosphere was traditional and of good quality."
It has also been claimed that the male clientele at Dorian Gray was limited, but that every Wednesday was “Sadomasochist Night.”
Café Olala, Zietenstrasse 11, 1927-1932
Die Freundin: Weekly Journal for Ideal Friendship Between Women (a lesbian journal) was published continuously during 1923-32 by the damenklub (women's club, or bar) "Violetta" — itself a coded name, as violets were considered a sign of lesbianism at the time. Die Freundin was banned in 1928.
|Damenbar by Jeanne Mammen|