March 1, 2019 By Meghan Sackman
Bum Bum Bar, the gay-owned and operated bar located in Woodside for more than two decades, has closed its doors.
The bar, which opened at 63-14 Roosevelt Ave. in the early 1990s, saw three generations of LGBT owners, and appears to have closed late last year.
Its closure was announced in a release today by NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, a group that works to highlight and preserve sites connected to the city’s LGBT community.
The non-profit says Bum Bum Bar (pronounced “boom boom”), was among the four remaining lesbian bars in New York City, and attracted a “mixed, but mostly working-class, Latina lesbian crowd.”
“It’s a really sad commentary on the state of nightlife for LGBTQ women,” said Ken Lustbader, Co-Director of NYC LGBT Historic Sites Projects. “This was one of the only places that provided the opportunity for LGBTQ women to meet each other in a safe environment.”
The group even pointed to the bar’s history in providing support for the inaugural Queens Pride Parade in 1993.
It is unclear why the bar closed, and the owner was unable to be reached for comment by press time.
Danny Hart, the site’s most recent owner, was interviewed by Go Magazine about the bar and its origins after she took ownership of it in 2016.
“The word ‘Bum Bum’ is actually Brazilian,” she said. “It means ‘the booty of the women.’ In Brazil they have a contest called the Bum Bum Contest, and it takes into account the whole physique of the woman.”
The magazine said the two gay men that opened the bar named it after the contest as an “homage to their beautiful women customers.”
The nightlife establishment, which had a 175-person capacity and a large dance floor, held a huge annual Pride event and also participated in the annual Jackson Heights Pride Parade.
The bar’s unexpected closure was met with surprise and concern.
“I was shocked to hear they were closed,” said Gwen Shockey, a Brooklyn artist who studies queer nightlife and incorporates it into her “Addresses” project–a digital map of lesbian/queer historical sites that have existed in the city. Her work is unaffiliated with the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project.
Shockey speculated that the reason for Bum Bum bar’s closing, besides the changing neighborhood and rising rents, could be the difficulties queer women face as business owners, as her research has demonstrated.
“People have frequently mentioned that it’s harder for women to open and maintain spaces because of pay discrepancies,” Shockey said. “Women aren’t making as much money as men on the dollar and it makes it harder to succeed or have as consistent of a nightlife following as gay men.”
The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project said its work in documenting this bar’s trajectory and that of other sites helps “document an invisible history to show the public that LGBTQ history is American history.”