History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Businesses - Bars and Clubs

 
Black Nite
Location: 400 N. Plankinton Ave.

Opened:
Closed:

1961
1963
Clientele:

Male/ Female
Bar/ social

 

 
       
 

In 1960, Wally Whetham reopened what had been known as "Mary’s Tavern" as "the Black Nite" to celebrate its gay customers. Patrons remember a more protective police presence than at other bars.

On August 6, 1961, Black Nite was the scene of a sensational bar brawl. When a serviceman was thrown out of the bar, he returned with friends, looking for a fight. They found 74 customers ready and willing to defend their turf. “My boyfriend was a bouncer,” said Josie Carter, “and we did not run from a fight. We didn’t start anything, but we sure as hell finished it. I could fight an Army off in a bathrobe.”

The Black Nite relaunched as Bourbon Beat from 1963 to 1966, when the building was torn down for the extension of St. Paul Avenue. (The same owner also later opened Captain's Cabin gay bar, which closed amid a scandal.)

More information about this business is welcomed from anyone who can contribute it.

(A book, "LGBT Milwaukee" by Michail Takach, seeks to make the story of LGBT Milwaukee accessible, visible, and portable for future generations--before it is too late. The Black Nite is one of many early LGBT landmarks documented in the book.)

Mel and Jerry in Black Nite in 1961
(photo courtesy of Josie Carter,
via Jamie Taylor)
 
Wally, Owner of the Black Nite, with Josie Carter, 1966
(photo courtesy of Josie Carter,
via Jamie Taylor)
 
Jamie Gay on the right, inside The Black Nite, 1967
(photo courtesy of Josie Carter,
via Jamie Taylor)
 
Jamie Gay on the right, inside The Black Nite, 1969
(photo courtesy of Josie Carter,
via Jamie Taylor)
 
Inside the Black Nite; notice the "No Dancing" sign, 1966
(photo courtesy of Josie Carter,
via Jamie Taylor)
 
 


View of the corner bar
when it was "Mary's Tap"


View of the area when the bar was the
"Black Nite" (corner bar to far right)


Close up of the Black Nite

Credits: Web site contents, design and arrangement by Don Schwamb.
Historical research and references by Michail Takach.
Last updated: August-2016.

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