The Boston Phoenix
January 1999


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Square news

The Lava Bar opens in Kenmore Square, and construction begins on Davis Square's Diesel Café

Grrrl Talk by R.J. Grubb

Okay, so we ended the year in a bit of a funk. Big deal. There's so much happening this month that this is hardly the time to lament the dearly departed in clubland.

Don't spend it alone

Celebrate Valentine's Day with the fresh new trio Side Order, a spinoff from Sistahs of the Yam (including percussionist Kera M. Washington, bassist Laurie Goldsmith, and vocalist Ifé Franklin), for an "Evening of Rhythm and Muse" at SomePlace Else, 212 Hampshire Street, Cambridge. Poet Gail Burton will also perform to the accompaniment of Washington's chops. (Warning: it will be Burton's only East Coast appearance this year, so don't miss it.) Cover $7. Call (617) 876-9330.
First off, downtown's U-Turn (199 State Street, Boston) turned out to be the Big Surprise of '98. With its Saturday-night promotion "Herturn," the club attracts a steady crowd of dykes into its two-floored domain every week. Of course, being the only nightclub for dykes that's open on Saturday doesn't hurt business. In any event, the ladies definitely appreciate the Saturday-night option, as evidenced by their sheer numbers. So practice your parking skills in trying to find a spot around Faneuil Hall or cough up $10 to park in a garage. You'll be glad you did -- when DJ Mabelle spins, it doesn't take long for the room to become a hopping den of strobe lights and sweat, the likes of which have been sorely missed. As reported a few months back, U-Turn plans to open daily for lunch and dinner, but manager Debi Saltzberg is still working out the kinks. Once she does, look for a major grand-opening party. Call (617) 685-8026 for more details.

LAP'M (Lesbian AIDS Project of Massachusetts) officially kicked off "Dyke Nyte" at the Midway Café (3496 Washington Street, Jamaica Plain) January 7. This is where you'll run into long-lost pals. Opening night was so packed with JP locals that pints of beer were passed overhead from hand to hand while everyone shouted over the music and mingled together. To keep everything interesting, Grand Opening!, our favorite silicone supplier, assisted with the festivities by offering up a gift certificate for the winner of the free raffle.

The new spot this month is Melinda Ancillo's "Lava Bar," which is housed in the penthouse suite of HoJo's in Kenmore Square. Opening night was set for Sunday, January 17, after One in Ten went to press, so I can't say whether or not she did. In the meantime, die-hard club kids will remember Ancillo from Chaps, where she worked security for a few years. Although "Lava Bar" is Ancillo's gig, it's definitely a collaborative effort. For one, not only will U-Turn's Debi Saltzberg be mixing cocktails behind the bar, but Denise Russo from Upstairs at the Hideaway will help out, too. Plus, Ancillo booked DJ Kris Kono, who spent the summer spinning at Vixen's in P-town and still plays those Connecticut monthly parties, "Club Lucy."

Basically, Ancillo's betting that Kono can keep us happy and relaxed. For now, Kono is holding back on her house faves and instead plans to deliver, in Ancillo's words, "some soft, sexy tunes" to enhance the lounge ambiance of the bar. In other words, expect a very relaxed and quiet atmosphere. The room holds about 300 and comes complete with red-velvet sofas and a redwood bar in an L-shaped room. Check it out every Sunday from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., at the Howard Johnson Hotel in Kenmore Square, 575 Comm Ave, Boston. Cover $5. Call (617) 267-7707.

Of course, Lava Bar's current Sunday competitor, SomePlace Else, kicked off the year in full force by bringing back the crowd-pleasing duo Bitch and Animal January 10. After their last gig in November, hungry fans bought up all the band's promo tapes -- at $10 a pop. (If you missed Bitch and Animal this time, don't despair -- I have it on good word that they'll be back soon.) In the meantime, circle February 21 for a double dyke bill with Atlanta's young crooner Sonia Tetlow and local folk diva Faith Soloway and Band. Together, these innovative singer/songwriters promise to rock out with an evening full of satiric, saucy tunes. At 7 p.m. at SomePlace Else (Ryles Jazz Club), 212 Hampshire Street, Cambridge. Cover $7.

The West Coast word is that everything is running smoothly for our hometown dyke maven, Hannah Doress, while she operates Hanarchy Now Productions from its new bicoastal locale in San Francisco. Doress recently met with filmmaker Alison Austin, who coordinated the daylong "Tranny Fest" in SF, which celebrated its fourth successful year last November. After consulting with Austin, the ever-zealous Doress began planning for New England's first "Trans Film Festival," which is currently slated for May.

Lastly, the owners of the oft-mentioned, though still unseen, Diesel Café successfully navigated the Byzantine maze of municipal licensing last month and were granted a parking variance and billiards license from the city of Somerville. Construction has begun for the café at 257 Elm Street, in the heart of Davis Square. After two years in the making, it looks like Diesel, the café that guarantees to tweak the café boom grrrl style, finally will open in the spring.

R.J. Grubb is a writer living in Somerville. Got news? Let her know about it at rjgrubb@aol.com.

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