A Tale of Two Bars

Happy toasts -- and sad -- after the latest skirmishes in the Mission's culture wars

Sitting on the couch in their Mission District apartment, Thirkield's partner, Gayle Soloman, also a Grinnell alum, adds, "It was such a straight white place, but they made sure that no one messed with us."

Back to Thirkield. "We want to bring that sort of the thing to" the Lexington Club.

During many a drunken night at Links, Thirkield and Soloman would talk about moving somewhere where the latter could go to graduate school and the former could start a business. "It was definitely a pin-in-a-map kind of thing," Thirkield says of the couple's decision to move to San Francisco 2 1/2 years ago.

Once here, they decided to check out the lesbian scene. At one club they met a woman who put Thirkield in touch with a bartender at the Tip Top Inn at Mission and 26th streets. (She has been training Thirkield in the fine art of mixology in preparation for the Lexington's Jan. 15 opening. "I'm a beer drinker," Thirkield explains.)

Harriet Dodge, co-owner of the Bearded Lady, a lesbian cafe also in the Mission, has given her advice on running a business, as has Brian McElhatton, the manager of the Dovre Club (see "The Dovre's Coup de Gráce" above).

The Dovre's eviction upsets Thirkield. "That's my favorite bar. I love the old guys in there. They remind me of the old guys in Iowa." The day Thirkield got the keys to the Lexington Club, Dec. 17, was her birthday, and she went to the Dovre Club that night to celebrate. "It's been my bar of choice since I moved here," she says.

To Thirkield, lesbian culture and the ethos of an Irish Republican bar are not mutually exclusive.

Her penchant for cultural coexistence extends beyond lesbians and the Irish. Producing a sign obtained from the Dekalb Corn Seed Co. in Grinnell, Iowa, she says, "I'm going to put this above the bar first thing. I want the bar to also be a place where my friends from Iowa can come."

-- George Cothran

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