Cheer Up Charlie’s @ Chances!!

Posted on: February 16th, 2014 by gretchen No Comments

Did you know that Cheer Up Charlie’s is moving to the venue formerly known as Chances?  This is holy ground, people!  Chances was a lesbian bar that started in Austin back in 1982.  Although our population was so much smaller, Austin had several lesbian bars back then.  Chances was just another one.  Until they started having live music.  Then the game really changed.  Oh, that sweet stage with the white rock wall.  I saw so many amazing shows there.  For example, The Jody Grind with Kelly Hogan way back when that amazing band was alive.  Awesome dyke bar bands played all the time.  Do such bands even exist anymore?  Sisters playing covers mixed with originals starring girlfriends playing tambourine for free drinks.  Girls in the Nose.  Two Nice Girls.  Phranc.  Blobbie.  Quiana Kaftan.  Meg Hentges and the Benches.  Nancy Scott.  Cher Hoot Night.  Madonna Hoot Night.  Women’s Music Hoot Night.  Punk Prom.  Powersnatch. Balloonatic.  Joan of Arkansas.   Swing Set.  The Breast Exam video shoot.  Rehashville with Rob Jacks.  Oh I loved that place.  It was from onstage at a Girls in the Nose show that I gazed upon Ann Cvetkovich for the first time, like a million years ago.  Or way back in the ’80s.  It was at that bar that we had our first date a good 5 years later. That’s where I mentioned to Adam Sultan that I wanted an SG and he said, “You wanna buy mine?”  Holy ground.


Sold for $5 and it came with a free healing crystal.


There may still be some of these left in a drawer somewhere.


So Chances was an incredible home for so much creativity and friendship and love and competence crushes and community.  The owner, Sandra Martinez was a total pleasure to work with and the bartender, Todd, always knew your favorite drink and would lend an ear to your girlfriend woes and all in all there was just no place like it.  We had our really lezzie thing going and then one year Chances became a SXSW venue and then all of these straight people came to the bar and our little well-kept secret became known.  So then all of these non-queer bands started to play there and everybody was mingling and mixing it up and it was a dream come true.  You have to remember, this was a long time ago.  And back in those days the lesbians didn’t necessarily hang out with the gay boys and the hets didn’t necessarily come to queer bars.  But Chances morphed into an ideal place.  It was a bar that respected people.  It never stopped being a dyke bar, but, at least in my experience, such an all-inclusive dyke bar as that had not existed in Austin before.  What a great place to hang out with friends and cruise hot babes.  Oh, good times.



Then it was over.  I went to that place religiously for it’s entire run and then it was gone.  And since I was young and foolish I didn’t know that such venues don’t just grow on trees and I figured that this town would produce another such bar because we needed one.  But nothing emerged.  Nothing had the magic of Chances.  Years went by and I just had to chalk it up to youth, and how youth is wasted on the young.  Well, actually that’s unkind.  And untrue.  Chances wasn’t wasted on me.  I did take it for granted a little bit, but how could I know that we’d have a dry spell that would last for decades after it was gone?


That is, until a little bar that could called Cheer Up Charlie’s started.  As that place gained its momentum I couldn’t shake the feeling of deja vu.  Cinderblock interior.  Nice back patio.  All sorts of different kinds of people hanging out together.  Awesome shows with good sound.  Great bartenders.  A feeling of community.  And Tamara and Maggie are just great owners.  It was all so easy there.  Hmmm, something seemed familiar…it was reminding me of Chances.  Did I dare let myself feel that way?  Well, yes.  It couldn’t be denied.  Thor concurred.  He’d been around back in the day, he knew Chances, he knew the vibe.  Yeah, Cheer Up Charlie’s is the descendent in the best possible way to that resplendent bar.  And now Cheer Up Charlie’s is actually moving into that old bar.  Really, I can hardly wrap my mind around how happy this makes me.  Maggie and Tamara and their loving and fantastic staff are the right people for the baton to be passed to.  Amazing miracles do indeed happen.


Maggie & Tamara


So, Gretchen’s Disco Plague (It’s Infectious!) gets to play at the opening night show!!!!  I am so honored and thrilled.  And glad we were asked because GIRL! I would’ve been JEALOUS if we hadn’t been!  Cannot wait and yet I must.  Somehow my queer creative life has circled back around to 900 Red River.  The Goddess is Alive and Majick is Afoot!!


Nice Scott Van Osdol soft focus promo shot from back in the day.











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