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 (approx 1976-1979) had occupied this space. After The Phoenix closed, the location was briefly occupied by three mixed, but mostly lesbian, bars: first Deja-Vu (Sept 1993- Oct 1994); then a more mixed bar, 'Dish' (approx. 1998-2000), and finally by a mostly lesbian bar, 'Ginger' (approx. 2008-2011).
More information about this business is welcomed from anyone who can contribute it.
Credits: contents, design and arrangement by Don Schwamb.
Last updated: February-2021.
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