The Lexington Club is closing

Owner Lila Thirkield published this letter this afternoon on Facebook:

To My Dear Community –

It is with a heavy heart, great thought and consideration that I have made the very difficult decision to sell The Lexington Club.

Eighteen years ago I opened The Lex to create a space for the dykes, queers, artists, musicians and neighborhood folks who made up the community that surrounded it. Eighteen years later, I find myself struggling to run a neighborhood dyke bar in a neighborhood that has dramatically changed. A few years back my rent was raised to market rate, and though it was difficult, we seemed to weather it at first. But as the neighborhood continued to change, we began to see sales decline, and they continued to do so. We tried new concepts, different ways of doing things, but we were struggling. When a business caters to about 5% of the population, it has tremendous impact when 1% of them leave. When 3% or 4% of them can no longer afford to live in the neighborhood, or the City, it makes the business model unsustainable.

Please know that if I thought The Lexington Club could be saved, I would not be writing this. I understand what a huge loss this is to the community. It is difficult and painful to lose our queer spaces. However, my faith in queer San Francisco still runs deep. It is the best place in the world and dykes and queers are still an integral part of this city. They always will be. I have spent the better part of my adult life facilitating and creating community among dykes and queers in SF and I will not stop. The Lexington Club had an incredible eighteen-year run. It will forever live on in my heart, as I’m sure it will for many of you. To all who were a part of it – thank you for your contribution to a great chapter in San Francisco and a great chapter in my own life. And, of course, a huge thank you to my amazing staff. We made some incredible memories, and we will make more.

Lila Thirkield (Lexington)

[link] (Thanks, Jess.)

[Photo by Lexington Club on Instagram]

17 Responses to “The Lexington Club is closing”

  1. starcreaner says:

    Look at the impulse control on Giants hat girl! Still got a couple blank spots but there’s literally thousands of $65 flash tattoo designs still out there. bummer about the lex i guess.

    • Ari says:

      Gosh, it’s almost as if, having been denied full recognition as equal humans and full agency over our bodies, women and queer folk might seek to shape and control our own bodies in the ways available to us, according to our less-than-straight-cis-dudebro means, without particular concern for whether or not that sours their (or your!) attraction to us! ALMOST LIKE.

      • starcreaner says:

        huh? I’m a woman. I’ve been going to the lexington forever. sorry to joke about the kids and their logo tattoos.

    • ofcourse says:

      Yeah, you’re what’s wrong.

    • troll says:

      I think the girl and her friends might be saluting you in that photo

  2. darksparkle says:

    Long Live the Lex! Long death the starcreaner.

    • starcreaner says:

      “long live the lex!” she explained that they’ve sold the Lex. so… not long live, unfortunately.

  3. one says:

    does anybody with a neck tattoo ever leave SF?

  4. Scotty B says:

    I first went to this bar in the late 90s. I am a straight man, I with their with my friend Bill. On our second beer, Bill said, “Have you noticed you and I are the only two men in here?” I laughed, then looked around. Yep, packed bar, and we’re the only two dudes in their; but a lot of the ladies looked liked dudes.

    • mistermj76 says:

      Besides an unnecessary excuse to police the bodies of women what the hell is the point of your anecdote?

      • Scotty B says:

        Hmmm….what was my point. I guess I was amused how invisible “men” are to me at a bar, when I walked into the bar, at first glance I saw a some tough looking dudes with tattoos playing pool, but they were women. I had just moved here from Cleveland Ohio, I was not expecting to be hanging out in a bar of all women, and not even realize it was all women.

  5. shemp9999 says:

    I’ll miss hearing everybody singing “What’s Up” all the way down the block on a good night.

  6. Devil's Advocate says:

    In no way do I intend to offend anyone (which means I’m basically going to offend people, right?) but I would like to offer a different narrative than the ones I’ve been seeing online since the announcement of the Lex closing. Hopefully the tone of this is read positively and that the message isn’t about the Lex but more about the community.

    Back when the Lex opened, San Francisco was a different city almost entirely. It was a place for the outcasts, queer, gay, whatever you want to label them and it was a safe place. It became a local haunt, got divey-er (is that a word?) as the years went on and more recently it’s become a place that has been failing for a few reasons.

    Gentrification. If I hear this word one more time, I’m going to scream. Understandably, the neighborhood has changed. The city has changed. Times have changed and if businesses don’t evolve, they are doomed.

    Yes, a lot of lesbians moved to Oakland. As a uhauling bunch, we have issue with staying put, not nesting, breaking up, trying to find roommates, and thus Oakland became a cheaper and more feasible option. However, just because seemingly ‘all’ the lesbians moved to Oakland, that doesn’t mean that ‘newer’ lesbians, perhaps slightly less ‘alternative’ but lesbian nonetheless have moved to the city – seeking out that same sense of safe place, community and acceptance as happened previously when the Lex first opened.

    However, that newer group of lesbians finds the Lex completely unwelcoming. Based on my own personal experiences, trying no less than about 10x going there, trying to make it work, trying to like the place that seemed so ‘cool’ – but it was the same horrible experience every time.

    What the Lex became is so far from the original purpose which is why I feel (not know) it’s now failing. The people who have been going there for years, working there, hanging out there made the place so uninhabitable for ‘new’ people or even non-locals visiting. All sitting around the bar, casing every person that walks in, chatting up their bartender friends who then didn’t serve anyone else. It seems liked you were walking into someone’s living room or a house party that you weren’t invited to. How could a business survive when it turns away the only people (besides the regular crew) that ever wanted to go and spend money there?

    They needed to reinvent. Not with fancy drinks or using mason jars and endless succulent displays, but they needed to whip their staff into shape. Welcome the lesbians that haven’t found their way in the city. If they keep talking about the shrinking lesbian population, they must simply be talking about their own little clique of girls who have moved to Oakland because I still see plenty of lesbians aimlessly walking around the Castro in search of a hangout because they feel uncomfortable in the Lex.

    People talk about the Lex now like you’d talk about an alcoholic who finally died. You don’t talk about the final years, you look at the Glory years. And yes, in its glory years it was vital to have a meeting place like this, where women/queers/trans all felt comfortable, but that comfort soon turned to clique and exes and everyone’s already slept with each other and it became a cesspool. Let’s also be frank, it’s dirty. It smells in there, it’s not accommodating for women to even use the disgusting restroom. Is that how you think you attract business and maintain customers?

    I think it’s a good thing (hear me out) that the Lex is closing because it not only shows a sign of the times changing (NOT in a gentrification way) and now hopefully lesbians can come out of their dark hole, cliquey bullshit and actually socialize with one another in other bars/clubs, etc. There are so many lesbians in this city, not JUST the ones that all congregate around the pool table at the Lexington. We don’t all look alike. Some girls are femme, butch, etc etc etc, the labels go on for days – and now that the alcoholic has died, it’s time for this community to find new life in a new era. I have to also think that while rent was raised for this establishment, it could have easily ‘tried’ to do something a bit different to show the community it was versatile and not just stuck in its glory days, but I fear it won’t.

    We deserve better than the Lex of current days. We deserve to treat each other with courtesy, respect and know that we’re all in this together. We’re all facing adversity, we’re all a minority and instead of creating tensions and clubhouses, we should be saying hi to each other and being nice or at least acknowledging each other with this gigantic chip on our shoulders.

    I for one am happy to see what comes after the Lex closes and I hope that everyone can band together to support each other – even the clique crew that never welcomed us into that bar 

    • Mo808 says:

      What kind of atmosphere clientele are you looking for in a “lesbian” bar? I’m curious because opening up something different and creating a new vibe sounds very interesting…

    • makeitgood says:

      Thank you for this. You’ve nailed it. I too am bored of hearing that there’s no more queers, artists, misfits in SF. It’s simply not true. People (business owners, entrepreneurs) need to think outside of the mission. The mission has changed and will soon be the next Marina or Hayes Valley (especially Valencia- so lame). So, how about opening up businesses in cooler, more affordable, off the beaten path neighborhoods and help be a part of something new. There’s some seriously rad dive bars and weird, wonderful places in the outer hoods. Don’t move to Oakland. Just be creative and find your new hood. (Relatively) Affordable neighborhoods in SF exist.