Without taboos, a journalist delves into the spaces where pink-money, sensuality and independence reigns. A dimension where the woman is sovereign.
Lesbian Evening Script. A Trip To The Most In Spots In Lisbon
I immersed myself in this odyssey full of expectations. I went through Lisbon from one end to the other with the aim of making an itinerary of the lesbian night of the capital. It was liberating to travel through a different universe. Environment that does not include men, not even in thought.
Bodies recognize each other, we are magnetically attracted, and it is surprising how quickly unfamiliar faces become familiar. I started the trip in a small way and I was gradually released. A sensual attitude seized me, and mine experience became strangely eloquent. Open or closed door, far from prying eyes, we entered the most in spots of a reign where the woman is sovereign.
The beginning of the adventure
Friday. I left the office and called my friend Marta, 28 years old. She was the one to accompany me on a journey through the unknown. “I must abstain from men,” I said. We were teenagers when, in jest of laughter, we exchanged innocent kisses. Proof of friends, she told me childishly. She became an interesting, successful, lesbian woman with no unresolved issues.
Before we left, I asked him a series of questions. How to act? Are they all going to realize I’m not a lesbian? Is there any suitable dress code? He left me without answers. A little later, we parked the car near Bairro Alto and Marta took me to the restaurant Louro e Sal. The name was suggestive.
Dinner without men
At Louro e Sal the atmosphere is cozy and intimate. The decoration is made of shades of black and cream. When I find myself, I’m sitting with three friends of Marta. They talk, laugh, and have healthy chemistry between them. Not for a moment does the theme focus on men. They talk about work, future projects and bombard me with curiosities about Happy. I let myself be infected by the complicity that exists between them. I had never had this feeling with my friends.
I think we’ve wasted too much time telling men wrong and comparing unhappy stories. We leave Louro e Sal and go up Rua da Atalaia to the Black Swan restaurant. Someone calls them out the window, and in a heartbeat I have a glass of wine in my hand. Inside, the environment exudes femininity. I think for myself if I’m going to get the message, I’ll be sure to act accordingly … but they never ask me questions about my sexual preferences.
In the mood for lust
My night continues towards Purex, a cozy bar where music blends in with art. The result is a space of bohemian and burlesque inspiration with retro atmosphere. It’s small and I see familiar faces everywhere. I do not know who they are but I remember seeing them on television, music people or actresses from some soap opera. The space is full and I can barely move. There are interesting nuances. Repair in a cage hanging from the ceiling. The perch is a fleshy red lips and small lipsticks float inside. Suddenly someone offers me a drink. Glued to the glass is a post-it with a scrawled mobile phone number. Because I never thought of it?
There are those who talk, there are those who date, and, in the background, a small dance floor delights those who venture to take their first steps to the sound of the electronic beat. Lucia is sitting on a bench like the train carriages. She is a photographer and says she could not live outside Lisbon. “Photography is my life and this is what inspires me. On the sidewalk, the streets, the colors, the sounds, the people. Here I am at ease. I can be myself and I do not feel inhibited when I kiss my partner in public. There were times when I felt overwhelmed. Because? The life is so short.”
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I follow the way to number 49 Rua da Barroca. They tell me that in the ZDB the environment is artistic and revolutionary. The posters glued to the wall give it a unique touch. It is an old space that has been recovered. Groups of women dance and I am quickly engulfed by this warm atmosphere. There are no constraints here. No one looks away and I let myself be led by Marta and her friends. I barely finish a pop song and I’m already being pulled down the street.
They take me to Maria Caxuxa bar. “You will feel at home,” they tell me. At home I would not say. But it is impossible to remain indifferent to this space. It is modern but kitsch, trendy with vintage pieces, the walls are covered with photographs, designs and there is color everywhere. It is not frequented only by women. They do not even look like lesbians. “You know that we do not choose friends because of their sexual orientation,” Marta says, with irony.
End of the night by the Tagus river
The night starts to fly. It’s three in the morning and I’m ready to go home. However, when I glimpse the lights of the Lux disco, I realize that my script has not ended. “Lux is gay-friendly?” I ask. “It’s closer to hetero-friendly,” Marta replies laughingly. The reputation of this space is unquestionable and has become the “it” nightclub of Lisbon. It is bold and dynamic. We can be who we want here. Sophisticated, alternative, gay or straight.
I realize why it is a space of choice for women who want to free themselves from prejudice. It’s at the bar counter that I know Maria. He is 25 years old and is studying psychology. “No one here points the finger at me, there is mutual recognition between lesbians. I also have heterosexual friends who come here. It’s a place where I feel comfortable getting physically involved with other women without having anyone to look at. “I end my evening on the balcony overlooking the Tagus River. Who would have thought that far from men I would have fun too?
Behind closed doors
Saturday night would be different. After a guided tour of Marta’s hands, she wanted to risk going alone. There were some names of bars scrawled on paper and I went looking for them. I stopped first at Friend Bairro Alto, the opposite of the ones I had visited the night before. The disco and funk sounds surround us and it is impossible to remain still. It’s clearly gay, but not just feminine. The audience is very young. I glimpse passionate couples, who kiss in an uninhibited way.
Someone advises me to look for 126 Atalaia Street, but let me know that I have to ring the bell. This is how I enter the Fragile, a disco-bar behind closed doors and with an eclectic decoration in shades of black and purple. There are those who talk in the sofas, but there are those who dance. I see kisses, lots of kisses. I’m in a world apart. There is no embarrassment and, perhaps because it is behind closed doors, the feeling of freedom is immense. I’m traveling, looking for the High Heels.
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Double income, no kids
I had been told that High Heels is the place where older women are. It’s elegant and sophisticated, but I can hardly see why it’s full of people. I clearly understand the concept of “dink” women (double income, no kids). I get to know Rita, a beautiful and elegant woman, a member of the ILGA Association’s board.
Show me the places where you go with the mainhas and explain to me that you are looking for colorful nights without segregation. You can either dine at the Bicha, Orpheu or Pharmacia. They start the night at Bairru’s Bodega, go through Agito, through Maria Lisboa, and end up in Trumps or Lux. Cais do Sodré also plays with the lesbian night. They like the Old Lady, the Conga Club parties and, on a more peaceful night, they watch a play by the Casa Conveniente.
Thanks for the advice to Rita and I’m looking for Trumps. The crowd of people in the street of the National Press does not let me deceive. There are people of all ages, men and women. Inside, the environment is much more rambunctious than imagined.
Being an exclusively gay space, no one has any embarrassment. A male strip is taking place on stage and the atmosphere is loaded with eroticism. I am then looking for the Maria Lisboa, an ideal space for women. Edite, space manager, is at the door and invites me in. The bright light that emanates there allows you to glimpse a showy and well decorated spot. The lights spin around me, the music is contagious and the bodies touch each other without shame.
I got in the car and got ready to make the trip home. I thought about the women I met and all the stories they shared with me. The fun depends more on the company than where we are. Going to Purex or High Heels is just as valid as going to “normal” bars. The future is without discrimination. Lisbon is becoming a city that bets on “pink money”, the economic power of lesbians.
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