The Boston Phoenix

arts & entertainment

Best lesbian night

Boston hasn't had a full-time lesbian bar for a number of years now, so area girls make do with one-night-a-week hangouts like Lava Bar, situated at the top of the Howard Johnson's hotel in Kenmore Square. The accessibility of the location, the relative abundance of parking, and the diversity of the clientele have made Lava Bar the upscale Saturday-night hot spot for girls of all stripes -- from Newbury Street style mavens to the chinos-and-shirts crowd. An elevator from the street level opens into the bar; to the right is a big shiny dance floor that hops with DJ mixes. You'll have to navigate the dancers to find the small seating area, a great place to girl-watch. And if the girls aren't worth watching, the view -- from big windows around the dance floor -- always is.

If ever there was an example of a truly integrated neighborhood bar, it's the Midway Café in Jamaica Plain, where not only does everybody know your name -- they know your sexual orientation, and they don't care. A favorite watering hole for lesbians, yuppies, arty students, and blue-collar folk, the Midway offers a dart board, a pool table, and bands most nights of the week. Thursday is its designated "dyke night," when the funky bar is filled with women, mostly young (but over 21). The pool table is open until 11 p.m., and there's dancing until 2 a.m. The first Thursday of each month benefits the Lesbian AIDS Project of Massachusetts; look for the LAP'M grrls bearing free sex-goodie bags and snacks. But even if you duck inside on a night other than Thursday, there are usually lesbians in the crowd, drinking and chatting and blending in. Ah, if all the world were like the Midway Café.

Lava Bar, 575 Comm Ave, Kenmore Square, Boston, (617) 267-7707; Midway Café, 3496 Washington Street, Jamaica Plain, (617) 524-9038.

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