Grrlspot celebrates queer womxn in New Orleans

Maiya Tate, Editor-in-Chief

Grrlspot showcases queer talent, from DJ’s to burlesque dancers and girl-on-girl acrobats. (Maura Lindsey)

In a world where queer womxn spaces are constantly coming in and out of existence, Jenna Jordan creates a new space in a new venue every month in New Orleans. The purpose of this space is simple — to bring queer womxn and female-identifying persons to celebrate together and have a great time doing so.

Grrlspot started as a get-together with friends following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. “I was in law school at Loyola at the time, and we would just meet up at a bar. And then it just got bigger and bigger,” Jordan said. 

The space grew into a monthly party for the queer womxn of the city and also a space to showcase queer talent, from DJ’s to burlesque dancers and even girl-on-girl acrobats. This month’s Grrlspot event was no exception. Jordan joked that she “like[s] to create a lesbian bar wherever [they] go.”

Grrlspot this month featured New Orleans favorites, burlesque performers Dawn Drapeher and Juno, burlesque acrobatic duo Acrodite, DJ Avra and many others. The event was hosted by the ever-entertaining and lively Jeez Loueez, who, despite suffering an injury to their leg, brought the crowd to life as if the injury never fazed them. By the look of their performance, it definitely didn’t.

When speaking on what Grrlspot means to the community Jordan said “Hopefully first and foremost it creates a safe and inviting space for everyone. Also it’s just better than the minimum. You don’t have to settle for going into a bar where you can just drink which you can …  I always like to make it something cool.” 

New Orleans seems to be the perfect place for an event like this, with the history of queer events and spaces. The Upstairs Lounge fire of June 1973, was a blow to the local LGBTQ+ community. During this hate crime, 32 people died. Even now, when events and people are being pulled from the past, this horrific crime against the queer community is still mostly forgotten. 

To have a space like Grrlspot alive in a city like New Orleans is a triumph. Jordan even said that many people ask her why she doesn’t do Grrlspot in another city. She replied that Grrlspot is New Orleans, and that’s why it always has to be here.

A survey done in 2015 showed that New Orleans was among the top 10 cities with a queer population. Yet, spaces for queer womxn like bars and clubs or blogs and magazines are few and far between, even in a diverse and queer city like New Orleans.

In addition to the absence of Southern Decadence, a multi-day celebration for the LGBTQ+ community in New Orleans on Labor Day weekend, and Hurricane Ida, the Grrlspot event in September was postponed. 

These roadblocks did not deter Jordan from creating an amazing event at The Howlin’ Wolf in the French Quarter. The night was full of dancing, drinks and amazing performances. If the crowd’s cheering was any indication, the party was worth the wait. 

The experience was reminiscent of many first nights out in New Orleans, getting stamped on your hand at the door, standing in line for drinks and dancing with strangers. Instead of the strangers you could find at any straight bar, it was with the queer community you sometimes have to look hard to find. 

As a bisexual woman myself, being surrounded by my community in a city I love, with my friends dancing around me, was an experience for which I almost have no words. It’s a feeling that will definitely keep me coming back month after month, to dance at a new place and to party with new people.

Jordan emphasized that this is the first year they’ve had a queer, woman of color as the showrunner, Jeez Loueez. “My philosophy is that I want Grrlspot to look like New Orleans.” Jordan also expressed that she hopes Grrlspot will continue for years to come so as to create this space for the community.

“Grrlspot is and always will be a very New Orleans space. And I think it’s particularly important, in a city like ours, to have our own unique space,” Jordan said, and humorously added “We have to keep this [queer space] as alive as possible. Even if I’m in like a wheelchair, and I have to hand it down to you kids, I’d be fine with that.”