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

 
Phoenix
Location: 235 S. 2nd Street

Opened:
Closed:

May 1979
March 1993
Clientele:

Male/ female
Bar/ social

 

 
 

The Phoenix was the southern anchor of an area of several gay bars in a 1 block area: also including C'est La Vie, Gary's/ Circus/ Club 219, and the BallGame to the north. During its years it had a few remodelings, but generally consisted of two rooms, and always had an active dance floor, good music, and a party atmosphere. It was generally one of the more popular bars in the area, with people going back and forth between this bar and Club 219 (or Gary's, or Circus, or whatever name that bar was using at the time).

In the 1990's the area as a gay mecca lost ground, mostly due to the neighborhood. The Club 219, which for a while was THE largest and most popular gay dance club in Milwaukee, was eclipsed by La Cage, and that area (about 8 blocks to the south, around National Avenue) became the center of gay bars and activity. The neighborhood in this area also began to became gentrified, with condos and art galleries moving into the area; these detracted from the closed "gay neighborhood" feeling, and also greatly restricted availability of parking.

Previously a popular bar called Oregon House had occupied this space. After The Phoenix closed, the location was briefly occupied by two lesbian bars: first Deja-Vu (about one year), and then a more mixed bar, Dish.

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




Josie Carter (right) inside The Phoenix, mid-1970s
(photo courtesy of Josie Carter, via Jamie Taylor)
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Josie Carter (center) inside The Phoenix, mid-1970s
(photo courtesy of Josie Carter, via Jamie Taylor)
 
Josie at The Phoenix, mid-1970s
(photo courtesy of Josie Carter, via Jamie Taylor)
 



Michelle, a bartender and the owner's partner, got drunk one day and shaved her head, mid-1970s
(photo courtesy of Josie Carter, via Jamie Taylor)
 
Miss Capri and Josie Carter at The Phoenix, mid-1970s
(photo courtesy of Josie Carter, via Jamie Taylor)
 
Josie Carter and Jimmy Seabooth at The Phoenix, mid-1970s
(photo courtesy of Josie Carter, via Jamie Taylor)
 



View of the building, late 2006
 
View of the building, late 2006
 
View of the block, late 2006
 
 


1979- Advertised as "The New Phoenix" and
welcoming Series III players.


Advertisement, March 1991


Flyer with daily specials

Credits: contents, design and arrangement by Don Schwamb.
Last updated: December-2009.