Dyke Beer is taking over New York City’s queer nightlife.
Co-founders Loretta Andro Chung and Sarah Hallonquist started their two-dyke beer operation amid the pandemic. Four years ago, the pair founded Dyke Bar Takeover, a company that takes over straight bars and, for a night, turns them into spaces specifically for dykes.
Dyke, as defined by Dyke Bar Takeover, refers to lesbian and bisexual women, as well as transgender and nonbinary folk. In other words, a dyke is anyone in the LGBTQ+ community who isn’t a cis-gendered man. Despite being a slur when said in the wrong context, dyke is now seen as a more inclusive term than lesbian and has been reclaimed by those who identify with it.
Dyke Bar Takeover was forced to come to a halt due to Covid-19, but the women refused to let this stop them. Sarah and Loretta used their time in quarantine to create a beer to eventually serve at their events. Dyke Beer is an original Saison ale brewed locally in Brooklyn. The beer has skyrocketed in the last year, coming out just in time to take over the swift reopening of bars and restaurants.
The mission of Dyke Beer is to preserve dyke space and celebrate dyke history, while also creating new dyke spaces and empowering others to do the same. They do this by donating ticket sales from their plethora of events and working toward one day opening their own dyke space.
Widespread closings during the pandemic alienated the queer community, as most of the safe spaces for these groups exist in nightlife. This disproportionately affects queer women and dykes.
In New York City, there are only 3 lesbian/non-binary/trans-oriented bars, while there are over 40 gay bars. In the 90s, lesbian bars began disappearing all over the United States. According to Chung, the number of lesbian bars in the US went from 200 to 20 within just 10 years. Dyke Beer serves as a tribute to the few spaces that still exist for the dyke community.
Hallonquist attributes this loss of space to three trends: the gentrification of NYC’s historically queer areas, the advent of online dating, and the popularity of house parties in the 90s. These factors caused bars to fall out of favor with younger crowds that preferred spending nights at cheap and wild parties.
While celebrating Pride this year, Chung and Hallonquist ask people to be mindful of the harmful effects of rainbow capitalism. Though companies love to slap rainbows on their storefronts during Pride month to signal allyship, Dyke Beer is a queer company 365 days a year.
“Let’s look past the rainbows, and start thinking about who we are actually giving our money to,” Chung said. “Companies should start giving back to grassroots organizations and actually including queer people in the conversation of corporate Pride.”
It’s a conversation to have over a pint of Dyke Beer.
Update as of December 2021: With vaccinations allowing for indoor events, Dyke Bar Takeover is back to throwing events like drag king shows and live music. Dyke Beer is also now sold at over 70 locations across NYC.