Friday, July 8, 2011

One of the Top 5 Bar Brawls in US History....

...happened right here in Los Angeles. Yay, we made a top five list!

It was New Year's Eve, 1966--almost 1967. Then, it was 1967, and a few undercover cops among the largely-gay revelers at the Black Cat Tavern started making arrests for 'lewd conduct' (Couples were kissing.)

The other patrons took umbrage at such treatment. This picture is from Wikipedia Commons--looks like a pretty dangerous place, huh?

Read the background and details at a great story in Slate by Christine Sismondo: Top 5 Greatest Bar Brawls in American History. You'll have to scroll down to us--we are number five (probably because no one died, as happened in NYC when the Civil War Draft Riots erupted at the Bull's Head Tavern --120 dead and the tavern burned down).

However, the Black Cat Tavern Riot did light a fire. It may have sparked the decision to start a gay publication--The Advocate, according to Sismondo, and it may have been a bit of a prequel to the Stonewall Riots in NYC, two years later.

The Black Cat, according to the Los Angeles Times, is now LeBarcitos, but the illuminated sign of the cat's face is still there. It became a City Historic Cultural Monument in 2008. It's in the Silverlake district at 3909 W. Sunset, near Santa Monica Blvd.

Christine Sismondo has written a book which is going right to the top of my Amazon wish list: America Walks Into A Bar. From Oxford University Press, of all places. From the Puritan's day to our own, bars have been "an institution often reviled, yet always central to American life." I'll drink to that.

I can no longer link to Amazon from this blog (criminy, I'm not asking for commission, just a link!)

Here, then, is the link to OUP's catalog entry, where you can read about the book and buy it. (but it's lots cheaper on Amazon.)

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