Since the closing of Phase One in 2016, lesbian women in D.C. have been forced to schedule their nightlife choices around weekly or monthly parties hosted for them around town.
David Perruzza hopes to change the landscape of D.C. nightlife for queer women with his new lesbian bar, A League of Her Own.
The space, which officially opened on Aug. 16, is located right next to Pitchers (2317 18th St. N.W.), Perruzza’s newly opened gay sports bar.
Perruzza, who was a former manager at JR.’s Bar for years, said he had been thinking about D.C.’s need for a lesbian establishment since working at JR.’s.
“One day I had this couple come in and they said, ‘Hey, are there any lady bars?’ I was like, ‘No, there’s not’ and the look of disappointment on their face. I was like, ‘Wow, this is really sad that this is the nation’s capital and we don’t have a bar for the ladies,’” Perruzza says.
When Perruzza went to check out the building for Pitchers, he noticed an intriguing feature of the space that sparked an idea for a second business venture.
“I literally walked down and I saw this space and was like, ‘Oh my God, there’s a separate entrance. I can put a lesbian bar in there. It could be like a league of their own.’ Then I’m like ‘Oh, a League of Her Own.’ That’s literally how I came up with the name,” he says.
While Pitchers and A League of Her Own have the same sports bar concept, Perruzza describes A League of Her Own as “more earthy” with a more industrial design.
A League of Her Own will also feature a foosball table, pool table and TVs and video games just like its Pitchers counterpart.
“I was like, ‘What do I do for the people that don’t know anybody? What do I do for the introverts or the people from out of town? So they didn’t have to really interact too much or feel awkward?” Perruzza says.
From his past working at video bar JR.’s, where people could watch videos instead of socialize, Perruzza decided video games would be an ideal choice.
He admits he’s “learning” about the lesbian community but still wanted to ensure someone connected to the community would be managing the establishment. He hired Jo McDaniel, who identifies as a lesbian and formerly worked at Phase One.
“It is owned by a gay guy but it’s run by a lesbian. In the past, I think a lot of lesbian bars have been owned by a gay guy and run by a gay guy,” Perruzza says.
Plans for events and parties are still in development. In the meantime, A League of Her Own will host monthly events for charity on Thursdays. Cover is $5 and all proceeds will benefit a different LGBT charity organization. On Aug. 16, Casa Ruby will be the charity of the month. Wanda Alston House is the planned charity for September.
Since Pitchers is right next door to A League of Her Own, Perruzza hopes that the spaces can foster an inclusive environment without being intrusive. Some patrons of Pitchers have chosen to check out the next door bar but ultimately have been “very respectful of the fact that this is one of the only spaces for queer women to go to,” according to Perruzza.
The location of A League of Her Own and Pitchers isn’t in the typical D.C. gay neighborhoods of U Street or Dupont Circle. Perruzza says he worried about the location for “a brief moment” but realized that in the age of Uber people could still easily access the bars. He also has heard that it’s helped renew nightlife for LGBT people who live in the Adam’s Morgan/Woodley Park area.
Perruzza says one of the best parts of having gay bars outside the gayborhood is that it brings a diverse group of people together.
“It’s creating a small town bar feel that forces lesbians, transgender people and gay men all to go to one bar to talk,” he says. “That’s exactly what’s happening here and its pretty amazing because the lesbian community has a lot more women of color. The women coming up stairs (to Pitchers) are making the men who are of color come in here and feel very comfortable. So it’s creating this amazing environment in the bar of people just chilling and talking to each other. Just every different type of person you can think of.”