Silver Slipper Tavern

210 S Jackson Street

Photo courtesy Titania DeBell
Tashio Hardware Co. interior, previous occupant of Silver Slipper building,1929
Handbill for the Silver Slipper
Cover illustration for The Tea Room Gazette featuring Seattle area LGBTQ+ bars as panels on an outhouse with the Silver Slipper separated from the structure

If you’ve got a Golden Horseshoe, why not have a Silver Slipper? And for many women, the Slipper was the perfect fit.

The Silver Slipper had two iterations, the first on South Jackson Street, up a set of stairs that led into a dreary, dark room. Lesbians gathered to meet other women and maybe hear music performed by the LezBeFriends String Band. While women had visited other neighborhood lesbian bars in the post-WWII years, sometimes carrying their “butch” outfit in a purse and changing in a restroom, lesbians brought their full selves to the Slipper, which sometimes led to conflict. The butch/femme lifestyle practiced by many older lesbians bumped up against the lesbian feminism of the 1960s and 1970s, which sought, in part, to distance lesbian sexuality from masculine roles and patriarchal views. Feeling overlooked or out of place, some older women drifted away from the bar.

Seen from a distance, this was a loss. From the early 1900s through the post-WWII era, sexist views taught society that women didn’t go out alone, especially to a bar. And even if they wanted to, many couldn’t afford it. Indeed, for many lesbians the only way to meet was at someone’s home. Any lesbian at a bar could’ve been seen as a success for the LGBTQ+ community, since the presence of a lesbian signaled the increased economic independence of women. Women’s financial gains, while not on par with men, made places like the Slipper possible.

Men sometimes visited the bar, though usually it was for the Thursday drag show, and usually that man was a customer’s friend or brother. Though sometimes, a cisgender male—cisgender female couple would amble in, looking to take a lesbian home. This didn’t always go over well with Slipper regulars, one of whom might walk by the couple, stumble and spill their beer in the man’s lap. Sorry, not sorry.

The Slipper is now a tattoo shop.

Proceed west on Jackson, turn right into the plaza and walk a block to Occidental Square.

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