Toast Ladies Night in transition; first Blush, lost Tribe

On February 21, 2005, in Uncategorized, by The News Staff

by Julia C. Reischel

 
The Boston area’s last remaining lesbian club night, which has
drawn hundreds of women to  Somerville  on Thursdays for the past 15 months, is  facing an uncertain future.

“The promoter was let
go,” said Ken Kelly, the owner of Union Sqaure’s Toast Lounge.
“However, Ladies’ Night has absolutely not
closed."

"It’s very unfair,”
said Wendy Kelly (no relation), who has promoted Ladies’ Night at Toast since
its inception.

 “I feel that my
character was being judged unjustly. I wasn’t given a reason. I was led to believe that it was me and my
staff that had to leave,” she said.

 “There was a difference
of opinion between Ken, myself and her,” said Sean Sullivan, Toast’s general
manager.

 “The staff is more than
welcome to stay and come back. Obviously,
they’re very loyal to her. We assume she’ll want to start another night,”
Sullivan said.

 The public learned of
the change in management of the popular lesbian night Feb. 1, when Wendy Kelly sent
out an e-mail to the Ladies’ Night e-mail list with the subject line:
"EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY-TOAST THURSDAYS FOR WOMEN IS CLOSED."

 “I have every right to
tell my friends,” she said.

 Announcements that
Ladies’ Night was cancelled were also posted on lesbian-interest Web sites like
the women-seeking-women message boards on the online database, craigslist.org.

 Despite the Ken Kelly
and Sean Sullivan’s insistence that the night would continue,

Boston

’s lesbian community flooded craigslist.org with
postings and swamped Toast with shocked and angry calls.

 Adding to the confusion
was conflicting information posted on two different Toast Web sites. One site, toastboston.com, is owned by Wendy
Kelly, while the other site, toastlounge.com, is owned by the club.

 “Ladies’ Night has NOT
been cancelled,” said the club’s Web site, while Wendy Kelly’s site countered
with the large bold statement: “Effective Immediately: Ladies’ Night on Thursdays at Toast had been
cancelled.”

 "I just think that
people are getting the wrong story,” said Wendy Kelly.

Launched October 2003, Toast’s
weekly Thursday Ladies’ Night became one of only two reliable gathering places
for

Boston

lesbians after Jamaica Plain’s Midway Café ended
their wildly popular “Dyke Night” last spring.

 
Along with Club
Hollywood in

Chinatown

, which until the end of January operated a
successful Saturday lesbian night, Thursday night at Toast was the place for
lesbians to see and be seen.

 Ken Kelly, Toast’s
owner, said that hosting gay and lesbian nights was one of the things he wanted
to do when he started Toast. “I had a
Thursday open; so I said, ‘OK, I’ll give it a shot.’”

 He said he asked a
friend of his to partner with Wendy Kelly, a veteran bartender familiar with
the

Boston

club scene, to promote the night together.

 "I built that
place,” said Wendy Kelly. “I made a
dream team staff, I brought cups, I paid for T-shirts, I paid my staff.”

 Ladies’ Night became an
immediate hit, even as the club’s attempts to attract gay men to similar nights
failed to take off, the club’s owners said.

It soon became obvious
that Toast was tapping into a largely neglected market.

“I think there weren’t many places like this
offered to the lesbian community,” said Ken Kelly. “This is a new, clean
lounge. There was nothing in

Somerville

like this.”

 “We desperately need
places to go,” said Wendy Kelly.

 Toast patrons seemed to
agree. One anonymous woman smoking
outside the club on a recent Thursday night said even Midway Café’s Dyke Night
had had drawbacks.

 “Midway was skeevy,”
she said. “It’d be just packed on Thursdays, but the other six days it would be
filled with 80-year-old longshoremen with missing teeth.”

Sullivan said that about
250 people would circulate through the club during the night on average. “We’ve
had a few lines,” he said.

 “On some nights, we
would have 300 to 400 people in there—way over capacity,” said Wendy Kelly.

 In 2004, the readers of
the Boston Phoenix rated Toast
alongside Club Hollywood as one of

Boston

’s best lesbian nights. But internally, things
were beginning to go sour.

 Differences of Opinion

 Ken Kelly and Sullivan
both said the relationship with Wendy Kelly became strained when her
co-promoter moved away, leaving her solely in charge of Ladies’ Night.

 “That’s when the
complete breakdown came,” said Sullivan. “It’s been a steady downward spiral
since then.”

Wendy Kelly said Toast’s
management showed no signs of wanting to fire her. 

“I didn’t see it coming
at all,” she said. “I was going to be
let go when I showed up on that last Thursday night. They were planning for
weeks.”

 Ken Kelly said that some
of the problems were caused by Wendy Kelly’s desire to expand the success of
Ladies’ Night to other clubs.

 “She’s tried other
nights at other places, and she didn’t even mention it to me,” he said.

 “I asked her if she
wanted to do another night here at Toast, and she had no real interest in doing
that,” he said.

 Wendy Kelly said that
she was accused of creating divisions among the staff.

 “If I was being
divisive, then why did all my staff come with me? Why did they walk out to stand by me?” she
asked.

 Whatever the causes of
the tension, the end result was that the relationship between Toast and Wendy
Kelly ended spectacularly on Feb. 3, the day that Wendy Kelly spread the word
that she was leaving and was planning to start a competing lesbian club night
called Tribe.

 On the craigslist.org
women-seeking-women Web page, anonymous posters spewed venom about the alleged
shutdown of Ladies’ Night, alternately attacking Wendy Kelly, Toast’s
management and the Boston lesbian scene at large.

 Angry postings attacked
Wendy Kelly for being an opportunist just out to make money and criticized her
attempt to bring the lesbian community to her new Tribe night. 

 “It all came down to
money. Plain and simple,” wrote one anonymous poster. Another wrote, “They don’t need her; that’s
why she got FIRED.”

“I was not in it for the money,” said Wendy
Kelly. “I have one pair of shoes which I wear both at work and for nightlife. I
wanted so badly to give something back to the community.”

 Other posts called for
a boycott of Toast and accused its owners of being homophobic.

 

"It’s very unfair,”
said Wendy Kelly (no relation), who has promoted Ladies’ Night at Toast since
its inception.

 “I feel that my
character was being judged unjustly. I wasn’t given a reason. I was led to believe that it was me and my
staff that had to leave,” she said.

 “There was a difference
of opinion between Ken, myself and her,” said Sean Sullivan, Toast’s general
manager.

 “The staff is more than
welcome to stay and come back. Obviously,
they’re very loyal to her. We assume she’ll want to start another night,”
Sullivan said.

 The public learned of
the change in management of the popular lesbian night Feb. 1, when Wendy Kelly sent
out an e-mail to the Ladies’ Night e-mail list with the subject line:
"EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY-TOAST THURSDAYS FOR WOMEN IS CLOSED."

 “I have every right to
tell my friends,” she said.

 Announcements that
Ladies’ Night was cancelled were also posted on lesbian-interest Web sites like
the women-seeking-women message boards on the online database, craigslist.org.

 Despite the Ken Kelly
and Sean Sullivan’s insistence that the night would continue,

Boston

’s lesbian community flooded craigslist.org with
postings and swamped Toast with shocked and angry calls.

 Adding to the confusion
was conflicting information posted on two different Toast Web sites. One site, toastboston.com, is owned by Wendy
Kelly, while the other site, toastlounge.com, is owned by the club.

 “Ladies’ Night has NOT
been cancelled,” said the club’s Web site, while Wendy Kelly’s site countered
with the large bold statement: “Effective Immediately: Ladies’ Night on Thursdays at Toast had been
cancelled.”

 “I just think that
people are getting the wrong story,” said Wendy Kelly.

Launched October 2003, Toast’s
weekly Thursday Ladies’ Night became one of only two reliable gathering places
for

Boston

lesbians after Jamaica Plain’s Midway Café ended
their wildly popular “Dyke Night” last spring.

 Along with Club
Hollywood in

Chinatown

, which until the end of January operated a
successful Saturday lesbian night, Thursday night at Toast was the place for
lesbians to see and be seen.

 Ken Kelly, Toast’s
owner, said that hosting gay and lesbian nights was one of the things he wanted
to do when he started Toast. “I had a
Thursday open; so I said, ‘OK, I’ll give it a shot.’”

 He said he asked a
friend of his to partner with Wendy Kelly, a veteran bartender familiar with
the

Boston

club scene, to promote the night together.

 "I built that
place,” said Wendy Kelly. “I made a
dream team staff, I brought cups, I paid for T-shirts, I paid my staff.”

 Ladies’ Night became an
immediate hit, even as the club’s attempts to attract gay men to similar nights
failed to take off, the club’s owners said.

It soon became obvious
that Toast was tapping into a largely neglected market.

“I think there weren’t many places like this
offered to the lesbian community,” said Ken Kelly. “This is a new, clean
lounge. There was nothing in

Somerville

like this.”

 “We desperately need
places to go,” said Wendy Kelly.

 Toast patrons seemed to
agree. One anonymous woman smoking
outside the club on a recent Thursday night said even Midway Café’s Dyke Night
had had drawbacks.

 “Midway was skeevy,”
she said. “It’d be just packed on Thursdays, but the other six days it would be
filled with 80-year-old longshoremen with missing teeth.”

Sullivan said that about
250 people would circulate through the club during the night on average. “We’ve
had a few lines,” he said.

 “On some nights, we
would have 300 to 400 people in there—way over capacity,” said Wendy Kelly.

 In 2004, the readers of
the Boston Phoenix rated Toast
alongside Club Hollywood as one of

Boston

’s best lesbian nights. But internally, things
were beginning to go sour.

 Differences of Opinion

 Ken Kelly and Sullivan
both said the relationship with Wendy Kelly became strained when her
co-promoter moved away, leaving her solely in charge of Ladies’ Night.

 “That’s when the
complete breakdown came,” said Sullivan. “It’s been a steady downward spiral
since then.”

Wendy Kelly said Toast’s
management showed no signs of wanting to fire her. 

“I didn’t see it coming
at all,” she said. “I was going to be
let go when I showed up on that last Thursday night. They were planning for
weeks.”

 Ken Kelly said that some
of the problems were caused by Wendy Kelly’s desire to expand the success of
Ladies’ Night to other clubs.

 “She’s tried other
nights at other places, and she didn’t even mention it to me,” he said.

 “I asked her if she
wanted to do another night here at Toast, and she had no real interest in doing
that,” he said.

 Wendy Kelly said that
she was accused of creating divisions among the staff.

 “If I was being
divisive, then why did all my staff come with me? Why did they walk out to stand by me?” she
asked.

 Whatever the causes of
the tension, the end result was that the relationship between Toast and Wendy
Kelly ended spectacularly on Feb. 3, the day that Wendy Kelly spread the word
that she was leaving and was planning to start a competing lesbian club night
called Tribe.

 On the craigslist.org
women-seeking-women Web page, anonymous posters spewed venom about the alleged
shutdown of Ladies’ Night, alternately attacking Wendy Kelly, Toast’s
management and the Boston lesbian scene at large.

 Angry postings attacked
Wendy Kelly for being an opportunist just out to make money and criticized her
attempt to bring the lesbian community to her new Tribe night. 

 “It all came down to
money. Plain and simple,” wrote one anonymous poster. Another wrote, “They don’t need her; that’s
why she got FIRED.”

“I was not in it for the money,” said Wendy
Kelly. “I have one pair of shoes which I wear both at work and for nightlife. I
wanted so badly to give something back to the community.”

 Other posts called for
a boycott of Toast and accused its owners of being homophobic.

 “The worse part about
it was that the postings on craigslist.org said I was homophobic,” said
Sullivan. “It’s funny—you run a gay night, and you’re homophobic.”

 While the most venomous
posts were soon removed by Craigslist administrators, both Wendy Kelly and
Toast’s management are still smarting.

 “I’m very saddened by
the whole thing,” said Wendy Kelly. “It’s a very unfortunate thing that
happened, very unprofessional. But in this business I’m finding that sometimes
that’s how it is.”

 “It was a hit that we
knew we had to take,” said Sullivan. “It
was a calculated risk.”

 Blush vs. Tribe

T

he rift between Wendy
Kelly and the management of Toast is spurring the growth of lesbian nightlife
in

Boston

.

 Toast not only plans to
continue and improve its Thursday Ladies’ Night, it is also planning to add
more. 

 “It’s the same night as
before. We definitely want to keep it going. We’d like to become an all-lesbian club,” said Ken Kelly.

 “In two or three weeks,
we’ll start presenting different nights. We want to hire from people in the
community,” he said.

 Toast’s Web site now advertises
its Thursday night as “Blush:

Boston

’s Premiere Ladies’ Night,” and gives the contact
information of a new promoter, Joanna Manzelli.

 Wendy Kelly plans to
take Toast’s crowds with her to Tribe, a new Thursday night for lesbians that
will be held at club FELT in

Boston

.

 “We didn’t work so hard
for fifteen months to lose it all,” she said. “I just want to move on—to leave
it all behind me.”

 Tribe debuts on Feb.17
at

9 p.m.

, and will feature pool tables and two floors of
space, as well as all of Wendy Kelly’s former Ladies’ Night staff.  Information can be found on the night’s new Web
site, tribenightclub.com.

 Toast’s first Thursday
night after Wendy Kelly’s departure went forward as planned, though some
patrons noticed that something was different. “There’s nobody here,” said one woman, remarking upon the noticeably
depleted crowd. 

 Another anonymous
clubber said, “The bartenders are different—they aren’t what I’m used to.”

 Other patrons were happy
to hear of the change in management. “This
is a good opportunity to add new features to the club,” said one woman. “It’s been the same thing for eight
months.”

 However, the majority
of the women were too busy dancing and talking to talk to a reporter about the
fate of Ladies’ Night.

 One woman captured the
mood succinctly: “I’m not into the whole drama thing,” she said. “If I like a place I’m going to go there.”

 "Part about
it was that the postings on craigslist.org said I was homophobic,” said
Sullivan. “It’s funny—you run a gay night, and you’re homophobic.”

 While the most venomous
posts were soon removed by Craigslist administrators, both Wendy Kelly and
Toast’s management are still smarting.

 “I’m very saddened by
the whole thing,” said Wendy Kelly. “It’s a very unfortunate thing that
happened, very unprofessional. But in this business I’m finding that sometimes
that’s how it is.”

 “It was a hit that we
knew we had to take,” said Sullivan. “It
was a calculated risk.”

 Blush vs. Tribe

 The rift between Wendy
Kelly and the management of Toast is spurring the growth of lesbian nightlife
in

Boston

.

 Toast not only plans to
continue and improve its Thursday Ladies’ Night, it is also planning to add
more. 

 "It’s the same night as
before. We definitely want to keep it going. We’d like to become an all-lesbian club,” said Ken Kelly.

 “In two or three weeks,
we’ll start presenting different nights. We want to hire from people in the
community,” he said.

 Toast’s Web site now advertises
its Thursday night as “Blush:

Boston

’s Premiere Ladies’ Night,” and gives the contact
information of a new promoter, Joanna Manzelli.

 Wendy Kelly plans to
take Toast’s crowds with her to Tribe, a new Thursday night for lesbians that
will be held at club FELT in

Boston

.

 “We didn’t work so hard
for fifteen months to lose it all,” she said. “I just want to move on—to leave
it all behind me.”

 Tribe debuts on Feb.17
at

9 p.m.

, and will feature pool tables and two floors of
space, as well as all of Wendy Kelly’s former Ladies’ Night staff.  Information can be found on the night’s new Web
site, tribenightclub.com.

 Toast’s first Thursday
night after Wendy Kelly’s departure went forward as planned, though some
patrons noticed that something was different. “There’s nobody here,” said one woman, remarking upon the noticeably
depleted crowd. 

 Another anonymous
clubber said, “The bartenders are different—they aren’t what I’m used to.”

 Other patrons were happy
to hear of the change in management. “This
is a good opportunity to add new features to the club,” said one woman. “It’s been the same thing for eight
months.”

 However, the majority
of the women were too busy dancing and talking to talk to a reporter about the
fate of Ladies’ Night.

 One woman captured the
mood succinctly: “I’m not into the whole drama thing,” she said. “If I like a place I’m going to go there.”

 

 

 

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