A scene from Dixie's Bar of Music, 1962. Never before seen photograph of New Orleans gay history, taken from vintage slides found in New Orleans.
Lady in Red
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Pulled from our personal collection of vintage slides found across New Orleans, these photos come from the early 1960’s, a decade before Southern Decadence began. They feature people partying around Dixie’s Bar of Music on Bourbon Street - a bar that WWOZ describes as “among the most important gay bars in American History. A generation before the Stonewall Riots, it served as a safe space for the gay community in New Orleans.”
Miss Dixie & her sister Irma opened the bar in 1939 on St Charles Ave, and moved it to Bourbon in 1949. “The clientele included assorted bohemians and artists like Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote & Gore Vidal.” Most photos of Dixie’s known today were shot by photographer Jack Robinson, who later gained fame photographing Andy Warhol & The Factory. Miss Dixie’s family was long connected politically in New Orleans, and that allowed the bar to escape the police raids that plagued other early gay bars. Her place, however, was identified in the 1952 citizen’s Vice Commission report as a “known homosexual hangout”. In 1962, when the first openly gay Mardi Gras Krewe’s ball was raided by police, it was Miss Dixie who bailed “her boys” out of jail.
Dixie’s became famous for their wild Mardi Gras celebrations, at a time when cross-dressing & drag was illegal in Orleans parish except on Halloween & Mardi Gras. The lively parties spilled from the bar to the courtyard & out on the street, as these photos document so beautifully.
Dixie’s closed its doors when the sisters retired in 1964, but years later Dixie was honored among the first recipients of the New Orleans Gay Appreciation Award for lifetime achievement.