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Posted at 3:28 PM ET, 04/ 1/2009

Guerilla Queer Bar Going Back Underground

By Fritz Hahn

"In Washington, where nightlife is often stratified by race, income and sexual orientation, the Guerilla Queer Bar events are one of the boldest experiments in recent memory: Mix a few hundred gay and straight patrons in a small space, add music and alcohol and see what happens."

The scene at a Guerilla Queer Bar Takeover at the Big Hunt in July 2004. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

That's how I began a 2004 story about the Guerilla Queer Bar Takeover, a monthly event where dozens or hundreds of gay men and women descend en masse into a bar that is known for having a predominantly heterosexual clientele. For five years, there has been much mingling, dancing and drinking -- the motto is "We're here, we're queer, we want a beer" -- but Friday night marks both Guerilla Queer Bar's fifth anniversary and its last event for the time being.

Founders Karl Jones, Amy Mulry and Christopher Trott are hanging up their collective hats after years of scouting out bars and organizing the parties. "We all have other things we're doing and things we want to do," Jones says. "We've being doing [Guerilla Queer Bar] for a while and we still love it. ... But I'm interested in doing other things at this point, and we want to let some new people do it, people with a lot more energy."

Guerilla Queer Bar was born out of a desire to break out of the same-old atmosphere of the usual Dupont gay bars, meet new people and check out new places. If the night helped tear down walls between gay and straight Washingtonians, so much the better.

"It's easy to talk politics and say 'I have queer friends,' but it's a little bit different when you have to interact with people. It challenges assumptions and predisposed ideas. Hopefully you have really fun interactions between people who would not usually interact, doing shots with frat boys and dancing with straight girls."

And, he adds, "It's difficult to be completely objective, but a lot of us have made friends that we wouldn't have made otherwise."

From pub crawls on H Street NE to the dance floors at McFadden's and Hawk and Dove, Guerilla Queer Bar has had its share of memorable moments, but Jones picks a 2005 visit to Georgetown's Rhino Bar as his favorite. "It was a blast because of the complete change of the space," he explains. "We made our own dance floor and marines started dancing with us. Groups of women took over the pool tables."

He's hoping to capture some of that magic again on Friday, when the Guerillas make a repeat visit, beginning at 9 p.m. Don't expect any tears, though, because the Guerilla Queer Bar events will be back in some form in D.C. before too long. "Some people have already approached us about taking it over. We want to get them to sit down and talk. It will be a different version, and it won't be right away. We need to make it a clean break."

For more information on the Guerilla Queer Bar and to be notified when new gatherings begin, visit

-- Fritz

By Fritz Hahn  | April 1, 2009; 3:28 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs  
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