Where It's Always Ladies Night

Two beans are better than one

I wondered aloud about Kashmir. I hadn't heard much from the West Palm Beach nightclub, a gay institution, since it changed hands a few years ago.

Katie shook her head. "It's a lot of kids."

Others agreed, and it wasn't just Kashmir's 18-and-up policy that didn't satisfy. On one of the mod couches illuminated in blue by a mannequin lamp, a group from the northern county shared its views. Emily Dempsey, a slender, 29-year-old, redheaded restaurant manager, had fallen in love at Kashmir with the beautiful girl who now stood between her thighs — Valerie, a Kashmir bartender. But at Kashmir, "all they play is gay-boy techno," Dempsey complained. As she spoke, DJ Joshua Atom played Mim's "Like This." "This is everybody music," Dempsey said — "dance, hip-hop, mainstream pop."

So what did they do before Lipstick Lounge?

"We traveled!" interjected Amber Theriaque, a 22-year-old who was celebrating her birthday.

And what would they like to see more of?

"Go-go dancers!" Theriaque said without hesitation.

"There's not as much for the girls, definitely," said Jon Elu, the party planner and event producer responsible for Lipstick Lounge and its gay counterpart at the same venue, Debutante Saturdays. "It's harder to get the girls out, especially if they're paired up. They're nesting."

But tonight, the birds had flocked, even if some were cuddled and cooing while we singletons made small talk.

"I come here all the time. It used to be very quiet," said Nicolas Axilote, a hetero 34-year-old who lives on the block and whose several restaurant jobs keep him up late. Since the Lounge added gay and lesbian nights, the scene had picked up, he told me as he ate the last bite of his sushi. "I come here whenever, even when it's gay night. This is my favorite place on the whole avenue. I like the variety and the change."

And Axilote probably didn't object to having his drink almost kicked over by the Sexy Kittys' scantily clad performer who strutted across the cement bar to "These Boots Were Made for Walking" to open her burlesque routine. After rescuing our drinks from her makeshift runway, we stood transfixed as Theriaque got her wish. The performer stripped, shook, and shimmied from atop a black box by the DJ booth.

Then the late hour brought in a post-concert wave of male rock 'n' rollers from the fairgrounds, including many with outdated looks — a mullet crowd that offered an interesting juxtaposition to the lipstick lesbians.

Like Les Beans, Lipstick Lounge offered an open, inclusive atmosphere for lesbians to call home, but they were different worlds. Where the coffee shop was "very Seattle," as one patron noted, Elu described his Lounge events as "more like Europe." Of course, Elu added, "There's always the straight guy who thinks he's gonna get a threesome."

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