Tammye Nash | Managing Editor
“It was an incredible feeling to walk in through that slamming door and hear my name called [by people who were] happy to see me,” said Joni Schroeder, describing what it was like to have been a regular at Buddies, back when the bar was located at the intersection of Lemmon Avenue and Mahanna Drive.
Sandy Myers opened Buddies in 1981 in a tiny little space on Fitzhugh Avenue. About a year later, the club moved to the Lemmon/Mahanna location.
Twelve years later, in 1994, Myers and her partner Dawn Jackson moved the bar again, this time to a much larger space, on Maple Avenue at Throckmorton, and added a “II” to the name. The new location had a swimming pool, a sand volleyball court, the main bar with a dance floor, and a smaller area off the pool that had booths, a TV and video games and was open during the day.
Myers died in August 2001, shortly after celebrating her 20th anniversary with Jackson. Jackson stepped in to run the bar then, keeping it open another eight years until deciding in September 2009 to shut the doors, retire from the bar business and moved to Gulfport, Miss., with her new partner.
When Buddies closed its doors for the last time on Sept. 27, 2009, after 28 years, it was the longest-running completely woman-owned lesbian bar in the country. And when it closed, its loyal employees and customers mourned what had become for many a home away from home filled with chosen family.
“This is more than just a bar. It’s always been more than just a bar,” longtime employee Genie “Gene the Machine” Hendrickson said at the time. “This was a home away from home for people. It’s been an extended family. And for some people, it’s been their only family.”
Buddies has been closed for about six-and-a-half years now, and its “regulars” still mourn its loss.
Schroeder said she started going to Buddies in 1987, when it was on Mahanna. “The first time I was there was when some friends invited me to go to the show there,” she said. “My family had moved out of state and the people at Buddies quickly became my family. They accepted me when society wouldn’t.”
Schroeder moved out of state herself in January 1994, but she never forgot the friends she had made and the home she had found at Buddies. With the advent of Facebook, she was able to reconnect with many of them.
“I was sitting at home about a month ago, feeling particularly nostalgic,” Schroeder said. “I already had about 20 Facebook friends that I had known from Buddies, so I thought it would be fun to get a few friends together to reminisce.”
So Schroeder started a Facebook group she called Buddies Groupies. By the second day, it had 148 members. As of Wednesday, May 18, there were more than 600 members.
Through the discussion on the Buddies Groupies page, the idea arose to have a Buddies Reunion, to give old friends a chance to gather and remember their favorite bar and their favorite bar owners, Sandy and Dawn. Beth McFarland, who had been a regular performer in the shows at Buddies, singing live, had the outlet to make it happen.
McFarland is one of three hosts of Blue Moon Dance, a women-only dance held once a month. This month, Blue Moon is hosting the Buddies Reunion, complete with a show featuring many of the long-time Buddies show regulars.
The evening begins at 7:15 p.m. Saturday, May 21, with the show, featuring McFarland, Val Pettigrew, Deedee Hart Barnes, Ruth Morris Guthrie, Jazzy Bleu, Schroeder, “Flash” and Ms. Butch Buddies 1996 Sparky. The dance will follow.
Blue Moon Dance is held at Dancemasters Studio, 10675 E. Northwest Highway. Admission is $10. Blue Moon Dance is a women-only space.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 20, 2016.