Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-02-21
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

GUEST COLUMN Last Call at Irene's Cabaret
by Owen Keehnen
2017-01-11

facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


My heart broke a little when I read in Windy City Times that Irene's Cabaret in Quincy, Illinois, had closed late in 2016 after 36 years in business. I was a regular there, planted on a bar stool until closing probably 2-3 nights a week for a few years.

"Last call for alcohol. Ladies, fix your make-up."

The first time I walked to the address at 124 5th Street there was nothing but a black boarded storefront with a small sign affixed to the wood, Enter in Rear. The same phrase was printed on the bar's matchbooks—twice. The second time I went to Irene's the bartender explained the witticism to me. I was young and naive and gay and living in Quincy along the Mississippi River. I desperately needed a place like Irene's Cabaret.

As I read news of the bar's closing I was surprised that Irene's had opened in 1980. I went there in the first years it was in business, but even then the place looked as though it had been around for decades. The decor had a lived-in look. I remember the etched tin ceilings, the dim red lighting, red-flocked wallpaper, a David statue adorned with a boa, a disco ball, and mirrored walls. Overall, a sort of river boat brothel chic.

Beat-up tables and chairs surrounded the dance floor and to one side, a glowing diva-heavy jukebox—Della Reese, Dottie West, Blondie, Irene Cara, Patsy Cline, even Pia Zadora. On quiet nights at the bar Willie ( aka Irene ) would often hand me a few quarters, "Hon, go play something on that thing to make me smile."

The article on the bar's closing also mentioned that Willie/Irene had died in 2015.

The Cabaret ( or the "Ca-bar" as we called it ) was where I fell in love with Kevin, my first "real" boyfriend. Kevin and I spent countless nights there playing pinball and pool, drinking, arguing art ( ugh ), and falling in love. Irene's was where I decided to become a writer and where I honed the drinking skills I thought that occupation required.

Irene's was a focal point for queer activity in the tri-state area. People would drive there from Keokuk and Springfield and Palmyra on the weekends. Irene's was a true melting pot of drag queens, leathermen, hustlers, lesbian farmers, bi-curious spouses, etc. Every combination of LGBT was represented at Irene's almost every night of the week. In the bar's crimson light we became comrades and friends and had a lot of fun.

I didn't discover I was gay there. I had realized that long before. However, at Irene's I discovered that being gay could be about more than having gay sex. Irene's was where I realized that being gay could also mean being part of a community. After feeling like an outcast for so long, I loved that sense of belonging.

Sometimes I used to wonder what any of us in the tri-state area would do without Irene's Cabaret. News of the bar's closing made me stop to consider that question again. Sadly, I didn't have an answer.


facebook twitter google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

MOMBIAN Fighting for kids against religious exemption laws 2018-02-21 - As a growing number of states allow child welfare agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ prospective foster and adoptive parents and LGBTQ youth in ...


Gay News

VIEWPOINTS Amid the noise in D.C., dreamers' fate hangs in the balance 2018-02-14 - Forget about Trump's tweets and demand that Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell pass a clean Dream Act. In September, Donald Trump said ...


Gay News

VIEWPOINTS Abortion access is an LGBTQ issue, too 2018-02-07 - This year, we are celebrating the 45th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, which affirmed that the Constitution protects ...


Gay News

Sue the T. rex goes nonbinary 2018-02-06 - The Field Museum announced its iconic T. rex, Sue will use preferred gender pronouns they/them/their in an effort to honor Sue's identity and ...


Gay News

GUEST COLUMN The Seasoned Life, Remaining Prepared 2018-01-31 - About 10 years ago some friends and I were sitting in the indoor space at Washington Park on Chicago's South Side, waiting for ...


Gay News

SENIOR MOMENTS Letter from Palm Springs 2018-01-31 - I'm 66 years of age, and growing old as a gay man isn't what I thought it would be. I was rather ...


Gay News

GUEST COLUMN Family Feud: Jay-Z, Beyonce, and the Desecration of Black Art 2018-01-30 - "Business is booming and I am not loved the way I want to be." — Morgan Parker, "Hottentot Venus" from the collection of ...


Gay News

GUEST VIEWPOINT Reclassifying "female condom" can revolutionize contraceptive industry 2018-01-29 - If you've had safe, penetrative sex at some point in your life, you've probably used the "male" condom, which is designed to be ...


Gay News

VIEWPOINT Who Will Defeat Governor Rauner? 2018-01-26 - The Personal PAC Board voted to endorse JB Pritzker after fully considering the qualifications of all of the candidates and conducting in-depth interviews ...


Gay News

MOMBIAN New PFLAG head is queer parent, professional 2018-01-24 - Both as a daughter and a parent, the new executive director of PFLAG, Dr. Jaime Grant, understands the organization's mission of uniting families, ...


 



Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.