To label Pearl Lounge a lesbian bar would be to negate so much more about the place. Together, they've created the unthinkable: Not that the city, let alone the street, needed another venue dominated by flickering strobe lights. Antique Pearl Beer signs, a hallmark of the bar's former life, are proudly displayed throughout. For some people, anyway. In an area full of trendy bars and dance clubs and dress codes, this place wants nothing to do with that mess. Yes, it is, on paper, a bar that caters to a female crowd, but it hardly limits the patrons who walk through the door. You'd be hard-pressed to find micro-minis and Louboutins here. You guys want one?
The masterminds behind this place, Mariana Lemesoff and Julie Mabry, were already art-bar heavyweights prior to Pearl Lounge. Those heels and skirts are a big indicator of who might be misplaced, and the couple has made a guessing game out of it. It's just a laid-back lesbian bar. Lucky Charm shots — which we've admittedly never heard of — are so epic they deserve their own night. There's even a dance night, just in case those skirts want to come back — but it's awesome '70s, '80s and '90s music, quite different from what plays in the neighboring venues. AA 'Oooh, here comes another one! To label Pearl Lounge a lesbian bar would be to negate so much more about the place. The high-heeled girls back out of the bar, confused by its laid-back vibe, and stomp over to one of the dance-friendly lounges flanking this one. Lemesoff's other venue, Montrose mainstay AvantGarden, is just as eclectic and perfect, while Mabry is the perfect counterpart, a promoter and producer who adds her expertise to the music bookings. The massive patio where hula-hoopers and drunken storytellers used to laze the evening away has been cleaned up and refitted to host a massive crowd. Pearl Lounge may be a watering hole on Washington Avenue, Houston's somewhat still-happening nightlife strip, but this establishment is nothing like its neighbors. Both Houston and Washington Avenue are full of them. Yes, it is, on paper, a bar that caters to a female crowd, but it hardly limits the patrons who walk through the door. If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters. Not that the city, let alone the street, needed another venue dominated by flickering strobe lights. For some people, anyway. You guys want one? She's totally in the wrong place. But now Pearl Lounge fills that void quite well. Taking the place of the old Pearl Bar — a staple on this strip for the better part of a decade until its early demise — this is hardly a dance-your-pants-off nightclub where you'll bounce away to the sounds of Akon or worse, Selena Gomez, which is blaring down the street. Rather, it's a lesbian-friendly bar with great music — latter-day local riot grrrls Vanilla Sugar play tonight, May 22, and You'd be hard-pressed to find micro-minis and Louboutins here. In a word, that's because Pearl is a bit more alternative compared to the surrounding bars. You can also take in some decent jazz on steak night, or perhaps down an IPA while seeing what happens Mondays at the open-mike night. Together, they've created the unthinkable: It's becoming a group effort, so we offer our two cents and laugh as our picks for Pearl newbies are proved right.
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