In 1978 the first gay bar opened in Le Marais. The bar was open during the day and during the night, and it provided a new alternative for the LGBTQ community that had been living in the shadows of the city. Sadly, this bar no longer exists and it has been replaced by another business. However, the story does not end there. After the success of Le Village, many business owners decided to open LGBTQ friendly businesses, attracting a great number of LGBTQ customers from all over the area. La Mutinerie is a prime example of the power of commerce in drawing in the LGBTQ community towards Le Marais area. It should be noted that while most gay bars around the area tend to cater to male LGBTQ individuals, La Mutinerie strives to be a safe haven for lesbian, queer, transgender, and feminist LGBTQ community members.
Le Marais became the LGBTQ center in the 1980’s and it was modeled after the U.S. and other European gay neighborhoods. However, at the time, gayborhoods were focused on men and, for the most part, left out women. For this reason, it is very common to see numerous gay bars and to see very few lesbian bars around the area. There has been the great movement toward trying to bridge this gap and incorporating more lesbian precincts into the area. La Mutinerie was originally a lesbian bar called Unity. According to their website, when Unity went on sale due to increasing real-estate prices, the owners of La Mutinerie decided to buy it to keep the concept of a lesbian bar alive. They discuss how the idea of continuity and change is very important to them, which is why the current owners wanted to keep the historical significance of Unity alive, while also modernizing the interior and trying to appeal to a bigger audience, one that also included queers and feminists. This bar is an example of how gentrification and rising real-estate prices could have displaced a historical site with a lot of significance for the lesbian community in the area, while also proving that, contrary to popular belief, not all LGBTQ members can afford to live in the recently gentrified area.
La Mutinerie is trying to keep the legacy of lesbian bars alive, while also creating a new, more inclusive space. They organize activities throughout the week open to non-mixed girls, dykes, and trans and they have posters at the door of events occurring around the neighborhood (“Notre Projet”). They acknowledge that Unity was considered a home for locals that did not feel welcomed at other gay bars and they invite them to participate in the project. They have also started an initiative to lower the price of drinks to a reasonable amount so everyone will be able to enjoy them. These are all ways in which the bar is trying to become a safe space for locals, while also continuing the legacy of Unity.
Aside from being known as a sanctuary for lesbian, queer, and trans individuals in the area, La Mutinerie does a great job of creating an environment of feminism and female unity. The name itself La Mutinerie translates to mutiny, which refers to rebellion against the authority. There are posters all over the area that refer to the feminist movement and women’s rights. Most of the posters around the bar area refer to the patriarchy and destroying social order. Similarly, near the bathroom, one can find a big poster in French that translates to, “No comment on who uses which toilet.” There are two separate sitting areas, one near the bar and another one near their small library that includes various books about LGBTQ and feminist topics. The sitting areas are covered in posters about past events, feminist art, and LGBTQ art. The atmosphere is very welcoming and open. Additionally, it is clear that they are working hard to make the bar more inclusive and to create more discussion about racism, sexism, classism, and other issues that are very present not only in Paris but also around the world.
Overall, this bar appeals to both locals and tourists and it is open for everyone. Some men could be seen on the dance floor or enjoying a drink by the bar and they were still welcomed. However, the target audience is definitely women and the majority of the bar-goers are female. The scene on a Friday night is very different from that on a weeknight. Throughout the week the bar hosts events like yoga, self-defense classes, and film screenings (Astorg). The aim of the bar is to continue the efforts that Unity started and to create a modern space for women to engage in discourse with other women. This establishment is very focused on third wave feminism; reclaiming certain terms as can be observed by the posters around the bar, raising awareness about intersectionality, and breaking stereotypes. The sex toys that hang from the ceiling also make a statement about female sexuality and fighting against oppression. Throughout the night the DJ plays feminist anthems and French songs. It should also be mentioned that the staff is mostly female and/or part of the local LGBTQ community. This bar appeals to locals and tourists and creates the perfect atmosphere for all types of women and individuals in the LGBTQ community to feel welcomed; they are fighting against the patriarchy, one bar at a time.