Dykes In BrooklynGirl's Night OUT
"It's just across the river
It's just a bus ride away
Love is just across that river"

- Richard Maltby, Jr. & David Shire from Starting Here, Starting Now

The world has returned from the Hamptons and places beyond. It's crowded and cranky again in the city. Time to get away -- try the F train to nearby lesbian epicenter Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Also referred to as Dyke Slope, the neighborhood bordered by 5th Avenue, Prospect Park and Flatbush Avenue is teeming with wonderful women and activities galore. Life's pace on The Slope is considerably more relaxed than in Manhattan: residents tend to socialize in their neighbors' houses, at the organic food co-op, at the video store, and simply on the streets -- not just in Village bars as is the pervasive culture of Manhattan. But this by no means rules out the existence of some excellent hang-outs for the ladies.

Annie doing Karate 1You may not think of karate class as a hang-out, but the lesbian quotient is extremely high at Brooklyn Women's Martial Arts. A part of the Center for Anti-Violence Education @ 421 5th Ave (7th/8th), 2nd Floor, the BWMA offers classes in Self-Defense, Karate, and Tai-Ji Quan to children and to women of all races, ages, physical abilities and sexual orientations. All class fees are on a sliding scale according to income and number of dependents (for whom there is free child care!). The classes are focused and purposeful, but not without humor and fun. Self-discipline, exercise and social interaction are all wrapped up into 90-minute-long classes in a modest mirrored studio. There's nothing more powerful than lunging, striking and vocalizing in unison with 20 other women. Powerful women, and you could become one.

2 Now that you've worked up a sweat, head on down the street to Carry Nation @ 363 5th Ave (5th). You'll find Carry Nation easily -- it seems like it's the only thing open after dark that isn't a bodega. Of course, the twinkling white Christmas lights and rainbow flag in the front window are dead giveaways, too. Boasting a well-stocked bar to water the mixed neighborhood crowd, this wood paneled hangout is happenin' in a very relaxed way. The requisite small pool table is in the back by the mini basketball hoop, both surrounded by friends drinking beer and petting their dogs. That's it folks, you read right: this place is so laid back that your dog can drink with you. And your canine will have no problem picking out a good tune or three from the jukebox, which is stocked with everything you'll need from the '60's, '70's and '80's. You'll be hard pressed to find anything from the '90's here, except the latest kd lang and Melissa Etheridge releases. The most pleasant surprise of the night, though, isn't the handsome female bartender, but the cheap price of beer. Everything costs exactly half that of its Manhattan equivalent!

Pink Beer

3 The once-lesbian, but now straight Glass Bar @ 444 7th Ave (15th) is also cheap and fun. The place is truly full of glass -- lotsa windows where there aren't exposed brick walls, and a bar underlit to highlight the shards of glass artisitically encased within the bar's -- guess what? -- glass top. Not just rumor anymore, it's official that the owner of Henrietta Hudson has purchased the sparkling Glass Bar and within the next month will transform the place back into a lesbian and gay-friendly establishment characteristic of the upper Slope crowd. Also soon to brighten the sapphic Slope will be A Rising Cafe @ 5th Ave (Sacket) - promising to be the eatery of choice for all Brooklyn dykes.

4 For some food for thought, the women's bookstore A Room of Our Own -- which used to be the great social and intellectual hang-out of Park Slope -- has closed, but has been replaced in Brooklyn's lesbian mindscape with the much more scholarly Lesbian Herstory Archives. By appointment only for research purposes, the Archives have become the repository of artifacts from our large and eclectic community. Not a hang-out, but a cataloguer of hang-outs, the Archives are an extraordinary resource and are among the anchors of lesbian life in Brooklyn.

So, come on over and exercise your mind, body, and pallette in Park Slope.

Where It's At:

Brooklyn Women's Martial Arts
421 5th Ave (7th/8th Sts), 2nd Floor

Carry Nation
363 5th Ave (5th St)

Glass Bar
444 7th Ave (15th St)

Lesbian Herstory Archives
P.O. Box 1258 NY, NY 10116

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