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The Pivot was an extremely popular bar in the Fox Valley area for many years, drawing people from as far as Milwaukee, Madison, and Green Bay for its shows and live performances by national acts, such as The Weather Girls (singing "It's Raining Men") and others. It was opened by Gordon Fowler, a well-to-do older gentleman who saw a need and put together an excellent staff and venue to serve the area's gay and lesbian community.
Opened early in 1986 as one of the largest gay bars in the state, and located on Highway BB just off I-43 in Appleton, the location had a sizeable parking lot and no nearby businesses or residences to raise objections about parking or noise. The building was very large (a low warehouse-type or industrial building), but started off modestly, to see how business developed.
For the bar's 4th anniversary and "grand re-opening", the business was transformed from an experiment to a grand bar. According to "Steppin' Out", the "bar happenings" summary in the state's GLBT publication, In Step, in their March 1-14, 1990 issue:
"The Pivot Club... cleared the sawdust just in time for their grand re-opening and 4th Anniversary week-long celebration. John, Gordon and their staff did a fabulous job with the place. The only things that haven't changed are the quiet bar, and the main island bar, my two favorite spots. (There's nothing better than a big, oval island-style bar for cruising... remember the old Factory?)
"The Pivot, besides installing platformed, terraced seating areas, new dance floor, DJ booth, etc., also added an entirely new lighting and sound system. A two-story dressing room and new stage were built for performers and shows. All that, plus new wall treatments and carpeting. It's no longer a small town club... they'd even do well in the 'Big Apple'. Congratulations!"
The bar underwent several remodelings, and always keeping a central island bar and seating. Other features typically included pool tables, video games on 2 sides, a large dance floor and stage opposite the door, as well as mirrors and several raised sections of seating areas. At one point a restaurant area was partitioned off just to the left of the entrance (east side of the building). For most of the later years the bar also had a large outdoor deck, outdoor bar, and volleyball sand pit for summer afternoons and evenings.
More information about this business is welcomed from anyone who can contribute it.
Credits: Many photos and info courtesy Paul "Cricket" Jacob and NE Wis. LGBT History Project.
Web site contents, design and arrangement by Don Schwamb. Last updated: August-2010.