Redz (Former) | Los Angeles Conservancy
2218 E. First St., formerly home to Redz. Photo by Manuel Huerta/L.A. Conservancy

Redz (Former)

Located in Boyle Heights, Redz is estimated to have first opened in the late 1950s and operated until 2015. For over fifty years, this popular lesbian bar catered to a predominantly Mexican and Mexican American clientele.

Over the course of its history, the bar's name evolved from Redheads to Reds to, most recently, Redz. It opened at a time when working-class lesbian bars were on the rise around Los Angeles, particularly in Westlake and North Hollywood. It represented an important intersection of race, class, gender, and sexual identity. 

Though the bar closed its doors in 2015 and its appearance has been altered, it continues to represent an important story within Los Angeles' lesbian community.

When Redheads opened its doors in the late 1950s, it was one of a small number of bars designed to be a gathering place for Mexican and Mexican American women.

As lesbian bars and nightclubs expanded in the 1950s and '60s, they illustrated important racial and class distinctions within the broader LGBTQ community. Middle-class lesbians, many of them working professionals, often preferred to socialize in private homes in order to avoid discovery and risk losing their jobs. By contrast, working-class women, as well as younger women who still lived at home, relied on bars and other social institutions to connect with other women in the community.

While many working-class lesbian bars welcomed women of all races and ethnicities, others filled a niche within existing ethnic enclaves. Bars in Westlake, including the Lakeshore Club, If Club, and Open Door, tended to be more racially diverse. When Redheads appeared on the scene, Boyle Heights was well on its way to becoming a predominantly Latina/o community.

From the 1960s through the 1990s, Redheads remained one of the only queer female bars located in a primarily Latina/o community, due in part to negative perceptions of LGBTQ individuals. The lack of culturally specific spaces, however, encouraged queer Latinas to venture to other neighborhoods, where they interacted with lesbians from different backgrounds and forged a larger community dedicated to queer and feminist issues.

Photo by Laura Dominguez/L.A. Conservancy

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