Disco Records at DiscoMusic.com

Dugans Bistro (a.k.a. Bistro)

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420 North Dearborn corner of Hubbard, Chicago, IL


Eddie Dugan

Lou DiVito

Photos below from Dugan's Bistro submitted by itjim: = photos removed by request of copyright holder.

Photo of DJ Lou DiVito submitted by itjim
Dugans Bistro

Photo of Harry's (doorman) mom, Medusa and moia (Tom Williams) in the pool room one night, circa 1981 submitted by Tom Williams.
Dugans Bistro

Photos below from Dugan's Bistro submitted by itjim:
1. WDAI Logo
2. Bearded Lady
3. Eddie Dugan the owner of Dugan's Bistro
4. Dugan's Bistro Entrance
5. Dugan's Bistro Souvenir keychain
WDAI FM Chicago radio station logo Dugans Bistro Dugans Bistro Dugans Bistro Dugans Bistro

Photo of Opening night from Bistro in 1973 - July 1973 issue of Mattachine Midwest magazine submitted by Jeff:
Dugans Bistro

Photo of September 1973 ad in David magazine, June 1974 ad for The Bistro from David magazine and photo of Eddie Dugan owner circa 1973 submitted by Jauers
Dugans Bistro
Dugans Bistro
Dugans Bistro

Photo below submitted by itjim
Description: Billboard Kudos for Dugan's Bistro 1979
Dugans Bistro

Photos below by itjim
Eddie Dugan@ Safari Theme Party with Safari Contestants at Dugan's Bistro = removed by request of copyright holder.

Bistro Dancer Extraordinare Kim Spaulding @ Dugan's Bistro = removed by request of copyright holder.

Mr. Bistro Windy City Contest winner = removed by request of copyright holder.

Celebrity Rip Thorn@ Dugan's Bistro = removed by request of copyright holder.

Sylvester Live @ Dugan's = all of these photos removed by request of copyright holder.

Admin note:Please, I understand everyone's enthusiasm in reliving their time at this club and your written and photographic contributions are appreciated, but please do not upload photographs to this site that you do not own the copyright or authorization to post on a public website. It's not fair to the photographer and causes a lot of unnecessary problems for everyone involved. Thank you.

Bearded lady x2 photos

Eddie Dugan with parents at Bistro's 5th anniversary

Eddie Dugan, Lou and Tommy

Photos below sent in by jim
Description: #! Before the wake: Ed Dugan (aka Edward Davison)and his baby #2 6th Anniversary Party.

Photos below from itjim
Description: 1.: Dugan's Bistro - Gay Chicago News October 7, 1977). 2.: Dina Jacobs - Gay Chicago March 13, 1980. 3.: Dancefloor and lightshow.

Dugans light show and dancefloor

Also see:
Lou DiVito

Please note that in the interest of fairness, the names of DJs and staff are listed in alphabetical order.

Click to Add Your Photos to this Page!

Added by itjim


Your Comments

dave schofield |

This was the place where I came out in 1974,the very first gay club I ever went to. I was 18, and I begged the guy at the door to let me in. Lucky for me he thought I was hot. I was there every night the whole summer and brought my best friends with me (who turned out to be gay too. heh) great memories. thanks for posting this site.

Jeb's Little Brother |

My brother and his friends took me and my girlfriend dancing at Bistro in the late '70s and after that we would go as often as we could and especially on holidays. New Years at the Bistro is burned into my soul. The best people, the greatest mixes and dance music over a sound system that caused internal injuries if you stayed in front of those big damn speakers too long.

The people were so much fun, so welcoming, it didn't matter who you came with because you were dancing with everyone collectively. The featured dancers were unbelievable to watch. Just incredible high energy improvised a** kickin' dance with an attitude. Percy was one of the dancers we got to know and a friend of my brother's and just funny as hell. He was tiny buy solid muscle and that little guy could move in impossible ways and those hot pink satin hot pants never seemed to ride up on him.

It was an impossible confluence of the times, the music, the people, the drugs and the atmosphere of the place and it had a profound effect on me. Everyone was after the same thing and riding the same wave enveloped in the same love. It was amazing and affirming to be part of the sharing and the joy of riding the beat in a massive moving organism on the dance floor. And on the rare occasions when there was a problem, people pulled it back together and raised the energy and cohesion back to a new high (excuse the pun) point.

Shoulder to shoulder with everyone I saw people pass out on the dance floor but they didn't fall because it was too crowded. They were lifted overhead and passed to the edge of the dance floor where they could regain consciousness. Amazing. Each night at the Bistro was a singular event, a place in time all it's own. And then at 4:00 am, like getting hit with a Tazer the house light came up and someone shouted, "Go home! Get out!"

Flo's daughter |

I really did grow up at the Bistro. My parents, Flo and Sam were Eddie ' s businesd partners from the beginning and the Bistro staff were my big brothers. I love them all and cherish those fabulous memories to this day.

Jeff Bruce |

This is for Tom Williams. I have a vast number of Bearded Lady photos and press materials that BL left me when he passed away ten years pretty much organized now. I'd like to talk with you via the phone or Skype about sending them to you and what to do with them after you've finished. Contact me at toshimaguy@hotmail.com or at jbruce@a.toshima.ne.jp and we'll figure it out.

itjim |

Hey all if you'd like a copy of Lou's hot mixes please email me. I removed the originals as they were being distributed in the net for profit and without permission. You can reach me at itjim@msn.com

FeelTheFunk |

Thanks for taking the time to create this site in dedication for the Bistro bar era. Only if we can bring back all that fun we had to a present day club for the generation that was around then (Older generation), even if its just a special event every couple of months.

Very much appreciated if any disco nights or even a dinner gathering ever takes place to be notified. I heard that the Sidetrack bar has a disco event every so often. Never will ever compare to what our generation experienced, but at least Sidetrack stepped up to the plate and is trying to offer something for the older scene.

A historical tour walk where the gay scene was located (Hubbard street, River North area) can be fun as well. I know that people have moved on in life since it was 40 years ago, or were very unfortunate to pass on from hiv that took so many souls away from the community. The past was a huge blast and at least for myself, it will never be forgotten!

My updated email address: livinlifesolo@gmail.com

(I started going to the Bistro bar from the grand-reopening after the remodeling that took place if I can remember around 1978 or so)
I was 18 then, but the pretty boys never had to wait in line or were ever carded! LOL

Michael Blake |

I worked with Eddie, Lou, Tommy and Michael K, Harry and all the rest during the transition from the Bistro to Paradise Island. I stared as a construction helper and then became a waiter in the Paradise Alley Restaurant and a cocktail waiter/bartender in the club on the weekends. It was my first job and I was very naive regarding the whole scene, but I took an apartment on Surf street right around the corner and threw myself into the project full time for all of the three phased opening. I met many friends and started a life long career in the food and beverage industry including work on Christopher Street and Vortex and then onto openings all over the country with Cavin Enterprises in Dallas. When it comes down to it, I thought I was just having fun at the late night parties at Eddie's place on Fullerton, but when I had the chance to work at something that I really liked I cause the bug for the business! Over 90 bar openings later...WOW...Thanks for the great memories and a terrific start to a life long career!

Rose Best Cougar |

I worked there in the beginning and I am searching for "Tommy Noble"???

itjim |

In the 70’s it was unheard of for DJs and gay bars to have write-ups in the large city newspapers like the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Daily News or The Sun Times here in Chicago but like I said Lou and The Bistro were the exception they were landmark. I don’t think anyone at all realizes what an influence The Bistro had on our city to be mentioned so notably in that time. It was a highly popular trending club. Out of my archives …..Here is a one on one interview with Lou that appeared in Sept 1979 from Chicago Tribune.
DISCO: The role of Disc Jockeys
Keep ‘em dancing: Deejays Spin Out a World of Sound
By Clarence Petersen
LEGEND HAS IT that the disco disc jockey can make or break the club in which he works. He can play records that either fill the dance floor or clear it. He can program the music in a way that either brings the customers to the club again and again or drives them away forever. The legend overlooks the obvious: Long before a DJ breaks a club, the club manager will break him. Still a good disc jockey is worth his weight in gold- or at least in gold records- and a thinking you might even say scheming deejay like Lou DiVito of Dugan’s Bistro ay 420 N Dearborn St. is worth even more.
Not only does DiVito keep the customers dancing, drinking and in a party mood, but at the end of the evening they often give him a round of applause. He has been at the Bistro almost 6 years and for the last 2 has been Chicago’s boss disco deejay- that by virtue of twice being voted Midwest DJ of the year in Billboard polls. Slightly built mild mannered, and soft spoken he looks less like a boss than like the apprentice interior designer he was until 6 years ago when two years out of school he was introduced to disk jockeying in much the same way that youngsters are tossed into deep water to introduce them to swimming, DiVito was sitting in the DJ booth at The Bistro chatting with disk jockey Ron Veltman (now The Bistro manager) and watching him work. It had been a night like any other as they say, until Veltman left the booth and never returned. As the record ran out DiVito figured he’d better do something, so he put on another, and another, and another…. at the end of the evening he was hired.
It was easier to be a disk jockey in those days. You just the records on one after another paying attention to which ones kept things moving. Disco as it is known today had scarcely been invented. Donna Summer had yet to record her first orgasmarock hit. Studio 54 would not open for another 4 years: the Bee Gee’s and John Travolta were nearly five years away from “Saturday Night Fever”. But in the gay clubs where disco started, dancing to records had already come to mean disk jockeys not quarters in jukeboxes. And the disk jockeys they were beginning to program the music not just play it if for no other reason than to fight boredom. Today according to DiVito programming is an art that demands nothing less than perfection. It entails knowing the music, knowing how to read a crowd and “mixing records so that the music never stops. A competent deejay can move from one record to another with such finesse, that an entire evening of music sounds like one long record on which a variety of recording artists have collaborated. The best disk jockeys practically re-create commercial music, enhancing records familiar to record buyers and radio listeners through mixing techniques such as back beating and phasing.
Many disk jockeys are also in charge of the lights- a visual cacophony of strobes, police lights, blinking neon signs, mirrored balls, spinner lights, lights that pulse to the music, lights that seem to chase each other across the dance floor and up the walls and across the ceiling- and have charge of such allied effects as snow machines that sprinkle dancers with tiny bits of plastic “smoke generators “that envelop them is steam from dry ice and Nerf machines that bombard them with featherweight sponges. But at the Bistro DiVito is so busy doing tricks with his twin Technique turntables that a second man Tom Noble works the lights.
The dancers may not know what he is doing up there high over the dance floor in the dimly lighted glass enclosed booth that he designed himself, but they hear the effects. The most obvious is when he starts a record, in the middle as he often does and ends it near the beginning because something at the beginning will blend neatly into the next record he intends to play. They will also notice an echo on a record that isn’t on the one they have at home. And they are likely to notice when each measure of a record is repeated four beats later. That’s called back beating and there’s nothing to it. You simply start one record: cue up a second, identical to the first, and play one measure behind the first. There’s nothing to it that is if you have perfect timing and turntables with pitch control. Phasing is a more suitable technique. Identical records on both turntables start at price sly the same speed, one slightly speeded up and the other slowed, then the process is reversed. The music seems to relay-race from speaker to speaker, “people say it’s like a jet plane effect DiVito says. Some people hear the distortion and wonder what’s wrong. But they like it. Phasing and back beating give the music an extra dimension they can’t get at home. So I do it a lot.
To the club owner those are merely mechanics. What counts in today’s hotly competitive disco business is that the disk jockeys keep the dance floor filled night after night says DiVito. “This is after all a bar, and drinking is what it’s about. If people are not dancing they are not working up any heat and they are not drinking, the bar is losing money.After six years in the same club, DiVito has no fears that his customers will not dance and drink. On a good night the Bistro attracts 1,100 to 1,200 persons (the club is no longer exclusively gay) and there are many good nights. The dancers know what to expect – the “newest hottest disco records according to Tribune columnist and disco enthusiast Aaron Gold.
“I don’t like to play things people can hear all day on the radio DiVito says. “A song like Barbara Streisand’s “Main Event”- I won’t play it here not at all. When people ask I tell them to listen to the radio. I want to hear music that is something different something refreshing and good. Besides I hate the record, I like Streisand but hate the record. New disco records often get played in clubs before they get played on the radio. Radio station managers and program directors live in fear that one bad record will drive all their listeners to another station just as the ratings people call. The discos have become a test market for record makers DiVito says, That’s especially true of New York discos but Billboard call Di Vito every week to hear what working here.
DiVito does not believe a disco deejay can turn a bad record into a hit or destroy a good one by not playing it. “We make hits –definitely! “he says “but it is because we get records first and usually can tell what will be a hit or a miss or we try them on the crowd and see the reaction. Usually there’s an immediate reaction. If you like a record you can push it until your crowd family likes it, but that doesn’t mean it will be a hit because a record night be real good in one club and not so good in another.
In the Bistro he says, the crowd is so mixed that I have to touch all bass’s have to touch borderline Rock, maybe a little punk disco, and straight disco, and kind of bubble-gum disco, slower disco, faster disco so that everyone gets a little of what he or she likes. That makes it difficult sometimes, but I always get out in the crowd at night to see what’s going on. Reading a crowd is the important thing and it changes from night to night.
There is no way you or any other deejay could come in here and read my crowd. It’s something you have to acquire and I really couldn’t tell you how to do it. It’s something you feel.
And then there are only a certain amount of top high energy records so you have to fill the spaces in-between. You can’t keep playing five records all night. So you bring the energy level up and you bring it down again which gives them a chance to drink and you bring them up again and all without them being conscious of the change. You have to take your crowd on a fantasy trip for the evening; they come in to dance to forget their troubles. That’s why I like to do a lot of phasing and back-beating-without warning. If you keep them surprised you’ll keep them interested. Then there is the problem of cooling them down at the end night so they’ll go home. That’s important when I have 1,100 people in here and you have to close. So you reduce the energy level so they’ll say “maybe I don’t want to dance to this, let’s go sit down. Or they’ll get a drink and maybe leave early. “Sometimes I do another thing.” It has to be done sooner but it works. Some disco records don’t fade but dead-end. They just stop and sometimes I will party a crowd all night building the energy right up to the finish and then put on a dead-end. Suddenly the music just stops, The crowd stands there stunned by the silence: Where’s the music! …What happened to the music!...Well folks it’s time to go home
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission

itjim |

Hey guys I started and created this page to honor memory of my friend Lou DiVito and Dugan’s Bistro because of the influence it played in my life. Lou was a mentor and great friend to me. Even though he never spoke over the microphone (as many DJ's at that time would do) because he was concerned about disrupting the experience the dancers were having. It was important to him to stay a silent host, so you would connect to the music alone and get lost in your fantasy moments of being surrounded, almost enveloped by the music he was playing. He was into providing a unique experience that was almost intimate. He knew what it was like to get lost in music on a dance floor and how powerful that experience was to each individual, and he did not want to interrupt that, he was an awesome force and unique DJ.
I remember reviewing promotional records with him and brining him Vodka Gimlet’s his favorite drink in the DJ booth…it was an experience I can’t forget…the 75 cent drink night on Thursdays, Eddies Birthday Parties and The Anniversary Parties and of course midnight madness with Champagne.
I’m glad I have been able to connect with so many people here who felt and experienced what is now gone but not LOST.

David Vargo |

I saw a few people asking about me on here..David Vargo from Bisto Too..there post were a few years ago..I am alive and well still living near Chicago..

Tracy |

I only wished I was old enough to go clubbing back then! All of those famous singers and dancers from the day....must have been great! I was only in Jr. High when Disco was in fashion! Sounds like everyone who went to the Bistro had a great time! I just wish it was me!

itjim |

More pics of Dugan's Bitro, Kim Spaulding dancer and entertainer, Safari Theme Party with Eddie and some beefcake contestants, Sylvester live on Bistro's stage and celebrity Rip Thorn enjoying a cocktail in the Bistro main oval bar.....

Jeff Bruce |

Tom Williams, I'm swamped with seasonal work, but it will lessen at some point. When that happens I want to send you a good portion of my Bearded Lady collection, left to me when he passed away in 2003. Let's figure out where its permanent home ought to be. Contact me at toshimaguy@hotmail.com with your phone number or Skype name and let's talk. I come to Chicago in even years at North Halsted Market Days and would love to meet people at that time who knew B.L. "back in the day."

FeelTheFunk |

Hello to all my Bistro family: I am trying to track down "Steve Fabus"

He wrote a comment here, basically to let everyone know that he was having a Bistro type reunion on July 29th 2011 at the Smartbar on Clark Street (The Metro) which i was totally unaware of and missed it.

He said that he was going to play the music from 1973 to 1982 the whole era of the Bistro.

Appreciate any help if anyone knows his contach info. He never left that in his comment. Thanks!

Jim |

Hey guys lots of great comments. GREAT..... I've uploaded a new picture of Paradise Island, Eddie and Lou's venture after the Bistro.. I'll submit a picture of my green Paradise jacket shortly along with some more Pardise stuff.

FeelTheFunk |

Hello everyone. What memories everyone has bought together here. Just wish that the scene today is what was offered back then. I can say that i am still obsessed with disco music, but no bars/clubs offer that anymore for the older gay scene. And thats a shame since the gay community should offer bars for everyone, not just for the 20's generation.

Would really love to know if a reunion is ever put together whereas we can take over a bar, just for a night and make it old disco all night long. Berlin use to do this one night a month but that was discontinued last October.

If anyone even knows of a special disco night at a club, i would love to be notified. Very much appreciated! Never forget the past. It was a blast!

FeelTheFunk (52 y/o Italiano)
Email: sololovinlife@yahoo.com

Charles Morris |

The Bistro was one fantastic dance club! It was the place where I came out after attending a Bette Midler concert in Chicago. I was with a college friend and I remember waiting in line forever to get in. The moment I stepped in and saw all the handsome men I new I was home and life would be OK. I will always remember the flowing river of men moving up the broad staircase to the dance floor when a Barry White song would start. So intense! Dancing all night long, shirts coming off, sweat glistening on smooth bodies. It was heaven. And of course, the Bearded Lady with her ever changing routines and those sunglasses that she would whip off as she twirled around to face the dance floor. I'll never forget those good and fun times!!!!!!!!

Mary(DJ Tazz)James |

I remember waiting in line forever to get in and it was worth every minute.When I heard the music that DJ Lou De Vito play I loved it,I said that's what I want to do and I did just that.I've played at the Ritz,clubs on Broadway,Foster's Lounge,C Ks & Augies,Pat and Vera parties.I even performed with a all female band at The Den,or it was Carol's Speakeasy,it's been awhile. I had the time of my life at Bistro's.Thanks Lou De Vito...R.I.P.

Maureen Harrison |

My friend and I were two of the fruit flies that went to Bistros in the 70s, Maureen and Mary. I had some of my best times in that bar. What great memories! I remember thinking at the time, that there I was surrounded by the best looking men in Chicago, could dance all night long, party all night, and go home alone (which is what I wanted). It was perfect.

Tom Williams |

Jeff Bruce and others: I would like to scan photos of the Bistro and its people and put them on a web site. I'll then provide a link to it from this site. I'll annotate the photos as people provide information on the people in them. At no cost. Please send photos to Tom Williams, 407 S. (add here the same street the Bistro was on) #1085, Chicago, IL 60605. I'll return photos after scanning.

Jeff Bruce |

It's interesting to read through memories of gay Chicago gone by even though I only knew it slightly. My late partner of 21 years, Bob Theiss (BL, the Bearded Lady) knew it well. I met him and took him off to Tokyo where I continue to live now. He's been gone these past eight years (an inherited family illness) but I still have every photo he ever had taken during his years performing in Chicago. I have thousands of them, all dated and many with the names of the guys he was photographed with. I know they cover an important part of gay history. If anyone wants me to try to find a photo to send on to them, get in touch with me.

blond doorman |

Lots of big name stars, trip p in Showing their enormousness to the the crowds,and the floor was on big mass of bodies all together dancing .Sex was raw and everywhere,you name it u got it u want it we got it you need it u pay for it every conceivable desire,drugs were as ample as rain,This was the s***,right smack in the middle of sad a** Chicago,And the place didnt just rock night after night it flowed like dirty Chicago river.Young studs with their elderly tricks The rich the very poor,the beautiful,da ugly we had them all,days flowed into months and years passed ya cant speak of bistro without saying PQs,that was a party too,all in its self never to be seen again. I knew at the time it was special

Dan |

First gay bar for me was the Bistro in 73. Came in on a saturday afternoon. Dennis was the bartender. Went home with him and kept coming back to the Bistro. Was always there after work at 5 and was there every weekend all night long. Remember the $2 beer bust on Sundays.

tony t |

Foam sponge stars that shot from the ceiling, snow on the dance floor in the middle of July, Ronnie Ball doing the most perfect Judy Garland, and throbbing music with big chords, key changes and a tribal beat...the Bistro was a thrilling, intoxicating mix of all that it meant to be gay in the mid 70's- early 80's.

albert unger. |

I had never been to a big city from western suburbs drove in saw state str. got lost my car stalled outside bistro came in to use phone black michael worked the door I had never been in, seen , knew of gay bars, it was meant for me, michael offered me a job on weekends, bobby, frank, worked lower bar, bobby? was waiter, I was probably their worst barkeep, couldn't see on the dancefloor to collect drinks, fell down the stairs with drinks, I guess I was cute so they kept me, worked a couple years, the bearded lady, Hiram, the dancer, I was a fool from the suburbs, but they took me in, and I survived, I am so lucky I am here, looking forward to reunion

pete |

I was a regular at the Bistro....
We should get together & meet up
Have a Bistro reunion!



i walked into the bistro in june of 75 i was shiting in my pants because i really didnt go to bars but i had read in the sun times about the bar and they had lowered the drinking age too 19 by the end of the summer i was working there and by next summer i was in a gay pride parade hey i was queer and i was here the bistro played a big part of my life but all the people loved and shared my life are gone how many of the ones that worked there are still here we are not young but i hope that everyone is healthy an d happy nine five six five eight nine three four six nine anytime


allan strezlickie gabriel ronnie veltmen michael d michael o peter belinger stanley marty fat janet tommie noble


hey i worked at the bistro in 1975 76 78 the door man got me ajob as a bar back a became best friends with allan strezlicke i moved up too waiter had agood time i am still up and running but i know there are omly a few that where there but are still here i miss shelly peter and michael

hlxyzha |

It wasnt my first gay bar or my first man on man kiss but it the bar and dance club with that hot musice that was a perfect place for one of my best kisses ever and so many fun nights with men who were like me. I danced I kissed and it was the start of me seeing a world where i was able to be me.

blond doorman |

Worked for Eddy Dugan right after they first opened,Knew Michal Michal and Lenny and dark Michal the Beared Lady and a lot of the Crew,Came over from P Qs such great times such wild and crazy times nonstop action

Danica |

The best time of my life.....iwas only a teenager sneaking in with my brother, David Leri. Robert the doorman, was so sweet. He knew that I was so young and use to watch over me. The music was the best, the staff (Shelly and Mark Beckwith). The Bistro was absolutely the chicest and best dance club anywhere!!! I was blessed to experince that ere with my beloved brother David, who has long been deceased.

Does anyone remember David Leri??? He was a character!!

John |

SO many things came back to memory while reading these. The lights in the floor, the snow falling, the jamming music, best around!!!! the drinks, the staff, the hot bodies everywhere. the pool table, the long bar, the dj booth over looking the floor, having fun under the dj booth hoping no one would see. The infamous bathrooms. Becoming a regular and just walking in! Loved every second of it. Thank you for this site. I am smiling ear to ear.... IM 54 and went there every weekend.

tom izzo |

my brother eddie worked at the bistro,he was the musclur guy who was a bar tender. me and my wife where there every weekend that halloween party they had i came in second place. i am trying to find a friend of ours who also work there, his name is marthy mcgrath if any knows him please e-mail me my e-mail is zachpa@att.net

John |

The Bistro was Chicago's top of the line of Gay discos in Chicago and perhaps in the nation. Eddie Dugan knew how to throw a party and was often copied but never duplicated. His parties were over the top, very festive with spectacular mood setting effects.... outstanding disco music by Lou Divito... great lighting, and fabulous decor.... balloons, smoke, glitter, feathers...what ever it took to make the Bistro stand out. This was the place to be scene.

This was a main establishment where the Gay culture and scene was glorified and accepted, where many "straight" folks also came to be seen and enjoy the fabulous music. There were no Gay flags back then, one had to hunt and find, most often it was by word of mouth that we found our clubs.

The party was at the Bistro and those in the know, knew it well. Those were the days and there has nothing like it since that time.



Bruce D |

For those of us who started with the Bistro in disco music let us remember the cutting edge songs Lou played that made disco famous in Chicago and all throughout the world (By the way Lou played for 1 year at the famous Copa in Fort Lauderdale, FL which he thoroughly enjoyed. Do we remember: "Young Hearts Run Free" "Boogie Oogie" "Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel" (which was the title of the theme page in Gay Chicago commemorating Eddie Dugan when he passed) "Let's All Chant" "Daddy Cool" "Come and Get Your Loving" Jackie Moore's "This Time Babby", "Don't Leave Me This Way" (first played on New Years Eve 1977 at Bistro) Gloria Gaynor's "Honey Bee" and the BG's "You Should Be Dancing" (which is the first time I ever heard a DJ-Lou remix the most exciting part of the record and build the crowd up to a frenzy) and of course Love Unlimited's "Love Theme" and of course more along with special selections for the Bearded Lady and Vera Vynl. I was in UTube listening to many of these songs and YOUNG PEOPLE born in 1992 and earlier were writing in asking "WHY ISN'T THIS MUSIC AROUND TODAY..... many comments said "THIS WAS MUSIC!!!!!!!" But I am an optomist at heart and not only those songs but more will come back...and it's always us gays like Eddie and Lou and Tommy that know what quality is and will bring it back!!!!!!! In the meantime I am very grateful to God and for being gay back in the 70's that I experienced something so great and passionate amd TRULY LOVING!!! Thank you for all the comments I have read... there's very little if anything that can be said abou gay bars today!! BUT I know WE WILL RETURN after all we are GAY!!!

Jeff Poole |

I visited this club many years ago and simply loved it. I'm planning another trip to the Chicago area soon and was wondering if there are any bars like this one I could go to? Have no idea what the best clubs are in Chicago now as it's been so long ago I was there. But I can't take it any longer, I've got to get back up there very soon. Cause I know it will be one fantastic weekend when I do.Thanks for your help. Also any other places I should see when I'm there, please feel free to enlighten me. Thanks again. Jeff

FeelTheFunk |

Hello everyone, much appreciated the next time when their is a disco reunion or a disco night reunion in any of the bars/clubs in Chicago if i can be contacted. Thanks alot!

albert unger. |

I used to work at the Bistro, only worked friday, saturday nights, only about a year and half, then jealous boyfriend made me quit. think it was michael? who worked door, got me the job. I was a barback, if Bobby got too drunk, would try to wait on tables, lots of memories, was too afraid to give my real name, went by eliot, then got too confused myself, went onto Al, what wonderful times,am sooo happy to read these emails

Steve Fabus |

Hello Bistro Family!

I was with you on the dancefloor and will never forget the Bistro in the glory days!
It was there that I got my first inspiration to DJ and it changed my life forever! That inspiration took me to San Francisco to play at Trocadero Transfer and then to clubs in NYC and LA.

I'm very happy to be coming back to Chicago to play on Smartbar's Disco night, Sunday, August 14, 2011. This is on Market Days weekend!

Hope to see any of the Bistro family that night! I will be pulling out Bistro records starting from when the club opened in 1973 to its closure in 1982!

DJ Steve Fabus

Allen Moore |

Some friends took me to Bistro shortly after I came out. Man, what a sight! I was like a kid in a candy store. We'd start out at some place like The Trip or the Gold Coast and end up at the Bistro.
The music was always perfect, the men always hot. Some of the best times of my life were experienced in that place. I remember one time some queen in the bathroom was saying that his name was George Masters, the famous make up artist. Well, the REAL George Masters walked in. Talk about a cat fight! You never knew what you'd see in that place.
I was transferred by my employer to another city in 1979. We held my going away party at the Bistro (where else). Met a hot guy (Andy Marks) that night, exchanged numbers and off I went to my new city and LOST his phone number and address. I always wondered what happened to him.

But in all my travels I have never had as good a time as I had in the Bistro. It's was truly the gold standard for fun!

Peter |

please contact me if you have a Bistro reunion

Ray |

Omg! Was feeling nostalgic tonight. Thought I'd just type a search on these great bars. I'm in late 50's now. Those memories were priceless. Remember a waiter clinking a glass at a friend and I because we were kissing in a booth. He said "None of that here"! Oh Mary! Live in southwest florida now. Originally from South Bend, In. Anyone want to remember and rehash it's stingray432@yahoo.com THANKS!

Ilib |

Thank you Martin Foster on your comment March 6th 2011. It's nice to be appreciated. I shared the dressing room with BL. I remember going to BL's residence on one occasion...there were only pathways through the mounds of thrift cloths ect.
Take care my friend.

CharlieBee |

I hope this finds everyone well after so many years. A group of us have started on Facebook, a Bistro Too page and we are looking to gather people to have a reunion. There are many people we are still looking for, so if you know of anyone, please direct them to Bistro Too: Chicago on Facebook. Many of us are already members and waiting for you!! Thanks!

Rick K. |

Oh man oh man the memories of the Bistro...the bar I came out in. Once we figured out how damn fun this place was we drove whenever we could from northern Indiana to dance and party - the car was on autopilot and I think it knew where to go. I was a mechanic at Sears at the time and I'd run home, scrub the grease from my fingernails, pull my LaCoste polo (never any substitute) and 501's on and head out! Like Eric above, my most memorable song was "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" by Santa Esmaralda. Lou was not only an expert DJ, but he could make the lights fit the mood just as great.

In fact, I had the pleasure of being Lou's boyfriend (boy toy?) for about a half a year which afforded me free drinks, no cover, and to spend part of my nights up in the DJ booth with him - and of course after closing at his apartment ;-) I remember the morning phone calls from Billboard magazine that woke us up to which he gave his top ten spin hits of the week. Fabulous!

I was shy back in those days so my group of friends were my posse - especially my first love Victor. And the memories of them will live with me until I draw my last breath. Viva Le Bistro!

Peter |

Anybody ever think to have a Bistro reunion?
Maybe a 1 night only thing that some businessmen could put together?
I was a Bistro regular...It was my world when I was young.I was in the 1st Mr.Bistro contest....I did not win...lol

Martin Foster |

As said the Eddie Dugan's Bistro was one of best if not the Best Discos. I was an student at the Institute at the time managed to make it there almost every open night. I often drove BL to the club and had many shopping excursions with the BL to find, finds at thrift stores on the north side and beyond. Early on we even found treasures in Wiebolt's basement. Many of those finds made it in the performance attire. Good times. I loved the clubs vibe, the huge floral displays in the front the pool table bar, The glassed in upper club. Ilib was always a highlight along with BL's performance pieces. I have never forgotten and never will.

To the comment above of the bar that burned, that was the Broadway Limited on the north side near Belmont behind, dare I say a KFC. The bar had train cars and a dance floor like a boxing rink.
Never the disco the Bistro was, it was a fun off night, cruise & dance spot.

The Bistro was a incredible, many nights spent on the ultra suede banquets in the front bar well after the dancing stopped. Heading home with the sun coming up and back to class.

itjim |

Hey everyone I just wanted to mention that I saw Peter who many of you remember.

I saw him on my way home from work and he mentioned that he had seen this page on this site, I started for Dugan's Bistro. He asked me to let everyone know that yes he is still here in Chicago and alive and well!

I've also run into Shelly (bartener) Jeff Berry (DJ) and Beeker during Market Days and they are also alive and in Chicago.

Bruce D |

Something probably nobody knows about except us personal friends of Lou and Tommy. The 2nd to the last song at Bistro before it closed was "DON'T TAKE AWAY THE MUSIC" by Tavares from the 70's and everyone in the DJ BOOTH Tommy and Lou broke down crying in the DJ booth. Then Lou who through his tears couldn't see the groove in the record happened to lay the needle on the very last song on "Last Dance" by Donna Summer, which was the very last song ever played at Bistro. Lou had sealed that record in tape at Paradise and written on it, that "this record would NEVER be played at Paradise, the new dance club "EVER EVER AGAIN!". And many times Lou and Eddie would always say at Paradise that Bistro was their BABY.

terry castleman |

I love to dance there more then 54 one nite with bette midler

Mary C. |

I certainly remember Marilyn's. It was next to the New Flight wasn't? The Bistro was my first gay bar I went to being the biggest faghag ever, I thought I was in heaven. I just remember never stopping dancing. Married now and living in the burbs, those days by far were amazing. No worries at all. Just waited for the weekend to party hardy. Does anyone remember CK & Augies or the Lady Bug, My good friend was gay and I would travel with her.

Maryl |

Hey who remembers being at Marilyn's - the lesbian disco from the late 70s?

Foxprose |

Oh, Miss Regina! And here I thought *I* was the biggest faghag! I actually found this thread while searching for something about The Bistro to show my 16-year-old daughter, who seems to believe that I was *born* 48 years old!

Dugan's Bistro was my world from about 1979 until 1982. Plenty of sugar daddies who enjoyed dressing me in the latest Fiorucci -- and happily tucked me in and went home with each other when the evening was done! Incredible music; great dancing (remember the falling "snow"?); and good times commandeering the banquettes.

It would be stupid to say those were the happiest days of my life -- I'm married and have five kids, so there have been plenty of more substantive good times -- but I can't remember a time when I felt more beautiful, more confident, or just plain cool. And given the general angst of early adulthood, those are pretty good memories to have!

So let my teenagers just *try* to find anything as great as the Bistro!

Russell Beecher |

My name is Russell Beecher and I work with book publisher Essential Works in London, England.

Essential are putting together a large illustrated book about Disco and I am trying to source visual material for the book.

The book is going to be about the music, the people, the places, the clothes, the drugs, the sex, the politics and everything else that made Disco such an amazing phenomenon

I am looking for photos of the clubs, partygoers, artists, records and just about anything else that is visually relevant.

I was wondering if anwyay might know of any such things?

If so please contact me at russell.beecher@essentialworks.co.uk

Kind regards,


dangoss |

A list of Bistro Employees: 1978-1982 that were my family during the years I worked there. Anyone with more information please update.

Anthony (Tony) Fanelli 1-15-1948 12-1990
Louis (Lou) DiVito 2-11-1952 9-18-1991
Edward (Eddie Dugan) Davison 8-20-1946 5-1987
Peter Thompson 6-02-1951 6-12-1988
Tim Fleming 6-11-1955 10-1985
James (Jimmy) Bryder 12-12-1955 12-16-1987
Gabriel Geddes
Ronn Veltmann
Thomas (T.L.) Noble
Kim Spaulding
Scott (Shelly) Taylor
Mark (Becky) Beckwith
Max Bailey
Marty McGrath
Frank Lipomi
Jeff Berry
Alan ????
Mark ????
Janet ????
Ilib (Billy)

wdai chicago |

Some more W D A I hot mix tapes being tranfered to CD_R Music.
Unable to post pix.

Bruce D |

Lou De Vito was the best disco DJ in the world. I went to Italy and heard a very good DJ. I told him I was from Chicago. He asked me if I had heard of Lou DeVito. I told him YES. He said Lou DeVito had influenced him. I found out through my travels through Europe France, Germany as well as Italy that the best DJ's had been influenced by LOU DEVITO. Chicago was very fortunate to have had LOU DEVITO. Even in America Angelo Solar down in Atlanta at the famous BACKSTREET asked me if I knew Lou DEVITO. Lou DeVito was known everywhere wherever Disco was played. He was the LEADER of all Disco Music. And we at BISTRO were fortunate to have had him. On the day he died cards and memoriams came from all over the world. THANK YOU LOU FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO DANCED TO YOUR MUSIC! I WILL NEVER FORGET YOU LOU LOU!!!!! I LOVE YOU AND THANKS FOR THE MUSIC!

Bruce D |

I was apersonal friend of Eddie, Tommy and Lou. And I can't tell you how much professionalism went into putting on the very best entertainment and record mixing and lighting and atmosphere there was ever in Disco history. I am a theatre producer and every recording artist straight or gay has always said the Bistro was the BEST DISCO in the entire country, These stars would dance in the club unoticed and unbothered by others even though they were known celebrities. It was a place where everyone was equally enjoying the absolute BEST music and entertainment and Underground cutting edge of all dance clubs. Please, Studio 54 never measured up to THE BISTRO. And that is why, because Bistro was never pretentious!!!!! IT WAS SHEER FUN!!!

itjim |

I used to love going to the Bistro, and I remember Tommy Noble used to do voguing, and that was the first time I ever saw that, and that had to be '76. He did it in high fashion drag, looking like an advertising exec on Michigan Avenue. There was a group of us that used to go from Horizons, and we called ourselves Debutantes Incorporated To Save Humanity ( DISH ) . We would have a cotillion in Lincoln Park, kind of Radical Faerie stuff now you look at it. ... Miss Peaches was one. He was my friends roommate, he's actually my son's unofficial godmother ... they were roommates for eight years and he's still one of my best friends. So a group of us used to run around, and I was actually the youngest, but we all came out about the same time."

itjim |

'The Bearded Lady was at the Bistro, which was a wonderful bar. Again, it was a part of that whole near-North Side bar scene. She was absolutely fantastic. I remember one time I was there, and she was wearing Lucite shoes with goldfish in the heels ... fantastic!' — Mark Palermo

itjim |

Surely you guys remember Peter Lewicki a close friend of mine and Lou's who used to spin at Alphie's on Rush and also created hotmixes for WDAI.

Here is another Hotmix from WDAI featuring Lou Divito and Peter Lewicki.. circa 1979


itjim |

In the June 4, 1982 issue of GayLife, Ron Ehemann, Eddie Dugan's close friend and attorney, wrote about the demise of the Bistro. Here are the highlights:

'An era ends—after nine years as one of the flagships of the night, Dugan's Bistro succumbed to the wrecking ball and 'progress.'

'Whether you were a Bistro Bunnie or not, most everyoine had been through the doors. Dignitaries and celebrities, young and old—part of being in gay Chicago involved at least one night at the Bistro.

'Most eulogies tend to overlook faults. We canonize the deceased and praise rather than criticize. The Bistro had its share of complaints, its share of 'attitude' and its share of controversy. But the Bistro had something else; a mystique and atmosphere, not unlike New York's infamous Studio 54. Though some felt the door policy was too harsh, one thing that was always excluded was depression, Eddie Dugan knew how to throw a party.'

'The Bistro was Eddie Dugan'

'Contributing to the success of the Bistro were hundreds of employees over the years—dedicated people who worked while we partied. These were the people who suffered during the Bistro's recent liquor license suspension. Though each added a valuable part of themselves to the bar, much of the energy and creativity came from Tommy Noble, Lou DiVito and Ronny Veltman'

'Door policy notwithstanding, the Bistro was one of those rare places where gay and non-gay merged. Eddie dugan once told me, 'The Bistro isn't a gay bar, it's a party, and the guests don't have to be anything but fun'

'Progress and changing times may cause physical things to pass, but nothing stops us from moving onward and upward. Though the Bistro is gone, Paradise is rising from the ashes of the Phoenix.'

Eddie Dugan's next venture was the Paradise at 2848 N. Broadway. It opened in July 1982. The Paradise closed in the Spring of 1986.

itjim |

Hey all..... Eddie Dugan made it into the Hall Of Fame..... Eddie I will never forget you!
Here is his "Posthumous" write up from Chicago 2008 Hall of Fame Awards.

Eddie Dugan(Edward L. Davison, Jr.), who helped invent the disco Ephenomenon in the 1970s, was a brilliant showman and popularizer, always ahead of the times. He was also a great asset to the LGBT communities, donating time, space, and financial support to numerous organizations, many of which were then in their infancy.
Dugan supported many artists—dancers, singers, painters, photographers, and comedians. He was the first disco owner to bring recording artists to the club to perform live in front of an audience. He was also instrumental in getting corporations, such as liquor companies, to sponsor events at gay clubs, a practice that is now considered ordinary but at the time broke new ground.
Born Edward L. Davison, Jr., in Chicago on August 20, 1944, he graduated from Carl Schurz High School. After a stint in New York as a window dresser, he returned to Chicago and worked as a bartender in different venues. Under his adopted name Eddie Dugan, he opened Dugan’s Bistro to great fanfare in 1973. The club was an immediate sensation and attracted nationwide interest, serving as a mecca for celebrities passing through the city. The Bistro was frequently mentioned in gossip columns of the daily newspapers, which in those days seldom covered gay issues.
Dugan was an early supporter of many organizations, such as Gay Horizons (precursor of Center on Halsted) and the Human Rights Campaign Fund (now called Human Rights Campaign). He helped with the start-up of Gay Chicago Magazine. He also boosted the careers of local comedian Pudgy and singer Frannie Golde.
In 1976, Dugan invested in the Marlin Beach Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and through his efforts the hotel’s hugely popular “Poop Deck” became nationally known.
The Bistro closed in 1982. Dugan went on to open Paradise in 1984 and Bistro Too in 1986—but nothing ever really compared to the legendary Bistro, which still lives in the memories of many Chicagoans and their friends across the United States. Dugan died in 1987.
Eddie Dugan’s favorite saying was “life is a banquet.” For the many memories and extensive support that he gave to Chicago’s LGBT communities, he has won a place in the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame.

mbm |

does anybody remember if the wrap party for Risky Business was held here in late '82 w/ Tom Cruise attending?

itjim |

Hey guys added some new pics of Eddie Dugan, the Bearded Lady, The Bistro main entrance,and my souvenir keychain from the last night of the Bistro;everyone who made it that night was given a souvenir keychain.. as well as WDAI logo for those of us who remember it.

Speaking of WDAI here's 2 links to Lou DiVito's live hotmixes on WDAI recorded live courtesy of my friend Phil. Click on the links to listen to Lou's Hotmixes circa 1979-1980

Mix-1: http://www.divshare.com/direct/10411424-4b3.mp3

Mix-2: http://www.divshare.com/direct/10411423-cb3.mp3

itjim |

No there was just one Bistro at 420 N Dearborn. They did remodel the bar in 1978 with a whole new facelift but tere was never a fire.

Stella |

Were there two locations for Bistro? I remember either a remodeling or a fire? Am I thinking of a different bar in that area?

Donna Miller |

Hi guys---this 64 year old Lesbians has some great memories of the Bistro as well---after seeing the show at the Baton---or dinner at "My Brother's Place"---or we would always make our way over to the Bistro after dancing at Marilyn's next to Sunday's.


eric |

I have to give mention to The Hunt and The Chase disco in Indianapolis. This was my first ever gay bar. It is here where I met friends from Chicago that brought me to the Bistro. WOW. What a time it was. I Feel Love by Donna Summer was THE hot song of the night...I will never ever forget it.

eric |

I first walked into the Bistro the summer of 1977 at the age of 17. I remember the song that was playing when I walked in, "I Found Love" by Love and Kisses, it was followed by Dont Let Me Be Misunderstood by Santa Esmerelda...What a time I had. To me the Bistro was the most fabulous club I have ever experienced. Im sure it was a combination of being young and impressionable, but I have yet to find a Chicago club that even comes close to the Bistro. It was the best.

Ilib |

Does anyone remember LePub that was on N. Clark right near Lincoln Park West or LaMirvipire (spelling)? the late 70's punk bar on Halsted street I believe.Very electic with the lights and there was a performing artist who went by the name Baluga.He would be be hanging above the dance floor for hours,tied up in a sack till it was time for him to perform.He was so happening.
I loved going there just to see him. The place burnt down in a fire.I believe Baluga also performed at the Bistro before I arrived in 77.
How much fun those days were. It could be we were just young and everything was new and exciting then.Although I believe that was a special time in our lives.

E. Fiebig aka "Maxine" |

There will never be another place like Bistro. I worked there from 1979 till closing then at Paradise for 3 years. Such a large part of my life seems like it is missing when I begin thinking of all of the good and crazy times and all of the wonderful people. Who remembers the after-hour security dobermans at Bistro... I think their names were Tobey and Eddie. Loved seeing your postings Danny Goss!

Tom Williams |

I started going to the Bistro in '73 shortly after it opened, soon after finishing college on the West Coast, and returning to where I grew up to live (Chicago). One of my best friends, Bobby LaRock, who died of AIDS induced brain cancer circa 1993, was a good friend of Lou Divito, so I became acquainted with Lou. Lovely, sweet chap, always a smile. The best years, IMO, was after the '76 redecoration, the "reddish" hue, and then even more so in '78, with the "sporty green" hue, which I luved. It was so elegant, with all the banquets, etc. and the main bar with a view of the dance floor stairway entrance. So many fond memories and so many lovely, beautiful people. Nice boys always hanging out in the pool room. Total conviviality. I was on the Bistro softball team in '81. Bob Strada, the manager of the team, never even asked us to chip in for the on-the-road hotel bills. Eddie showed up at some of the games. We undoubtedly had the best looking team in the league(s). I used to arrive at the post-78 "green" Bistro early on a Saturday eve (i.e., 10 PM), pull up a stool on the North side of the main bar, at the West end, have a vodka gimlet, and watch/relax/enjoy the sights and sounds as the event began to unfold - a great way introduce the night. As we all know, it was the most lovely, (and regular) group of bar patrons that could ever be. Same with the boys who worked there. They were perfect gentleman, always a smile, very cute. One special night was when Danny Goss (nice to read his message here), who I had admired for awhile, shined a light on me from the Disco booth momentarily. I got the message. A few minutes later he was standing with a group of the waiters, bartenders and barbacks, near the restrooms. I went over and talked to Danny. We spent the evening together, he took me downstairs to the dressing rooms to hang out while the bar above was progressing into the night. Danny was adorable. We rode up to Man's Country on my motorcycle afterward, the rest is history. Lovely, sweet guy . . . . Many at the Bistro we knew, many we didn't, but it was almost always the same large group of beautiful, sweet people (in a way, perhaps. celebrating the first decade after Stonewall???). Paradise was nice but didn't have quite the charm and flavor the Bistro had. In retrospect I liked the Bistro because it didn't have the decadent flavor that tended to plague the bars of the 80's, IMO. Remember Al the photographer? I have some of his pix - e.g., one with me, David Shelton (aka Medusa) and Harry (the doorman's) mom leaning in for exposure. I looked like I had too much to drink (droopy eyes - those Bistro gimlets were something!). All you guys who worked at the Bistro made the place so special, there never was and never will (again) be a place like the old Bistro! A celebration of life for the ages . . .

dangoss |

ILIB-ILIB-ILIB...this is your old roomie and former co-worker at the Bistro...Danny Goss...remember me? Please contact me (discodan2@sbcglobal.net)...and let's catch up.....MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Ilib |

I was at a Christmas party last night and a friend from that era informed me of this Bistro site.
The first time that I went to the Bistro in 1977, there was a Go-go boy dancing, going down on a beer bottle and picking it up with his rear. Tommy Nobel is the one who hired me. He took care of scheduling the dancers,working the lights and on occassion perform in drag himself.
I worked at the Bistro from 1977-80 as a performing artist with kabuki make-up and outragous costumes. I went by the name, Ilib. In fact, after the remodeling of the club, I had my own dressing station next to B.L.(Bearded Lady). What a great job that was. Eddie paid me well to create costumes and perform on stage, Thur.- Sun. I also was in an ad that ran in the gay chicago for Coconuts. Eddie would have me work at that club also. The Bistro opened many doors for me doing make-up,costume,fashion shows,print ads,etc.
It was fun to take a walk down memory lane and read the names of people I knew.

itjim |

Hey Phil I'd like to heat those WDAI tapes. You can contact me at itjim@msn.com

Also anyone having any memorabilia, related to Dugan's Bisto please contact me. In the process of following Eddie and oepning a club with the style, music and atmosphere of Bistro and Paradise. Your input and feedback will be appreciated.

Andy |

I was at Bistro the night of the Labor Day raid which would have been 1976 or 1977. An afterhours party where 18 of us were taken to Chicago Avenue jail. Eddie had grabbed bags of cash to make bail for all of us. I well remember Bearded Lady in the next cell singing God Bless America.

Phil |

I have several reel to reel disco dai hot mix and news tapes 24 hours or so. would any body be interested in hearing them?
They are at 7 1/2 i.p.s.
Does any body else have any original recordings from wdai ...THE best radio station there ever was..
Does any one have recordings from 88.7 fm Chicago from the late 80's or early 90's ?????

itjim |

An April 7, 1974 article (“Secure sexuality . . . and the scene sells”) by Lynn Van Matre from the Chicago Tribune states:

Once upon a time, the Bistro was a restaurant . . . . * * * The French fare, and the restaurant itself, vanished from the scene more than a year ago, replaced by a scene. Lighted neon lips glow on the walls, the music starts at 10, and the dancing doesn’t stop 'til 4 – either on the discotheque floor or above, where a couple of male dancers, including a Bearded Lady decked out in dowdy drag for comic relief, ply their trade by turns. The Bistro, or Dugan's Bistro as the bar and disco answers to these days, is unabashedly gay. It is also the essence of hipness. And in case you haven't noticed, the two have become synonymous to a certain degree. * * * Not that gay, of course, has always been synonymous with good. Up until a few years ago, gay meant hassles, as the owners and patrons of earlier gay bars well know. "I opened at a great time,” says Edward [Dugan] Davison, a very together 28, who lent his name to Dugan’s Bistro and spends 18 hours a day running the place. “For the last two years, there’s been a very cool atmosphere as far as the law goes." * * * Now the gay scene pays off another way, in terms of American capitalism. The Bistro does good business – just try to get in on a Saturday night around midnight , when the lines have been known to stretch a block back to Clark Street. The same holds true for Tenement Square a few blocks north and east at 247 E. Ontario St., where a discotheque called the Bogart Room serves up much the same scene to a different clientele. Together, the two comprise the downtown "glitter scene," tho there the similarities stop. "Basically, it all started with the Bistro," says Tenement Square’s Mike Carlucci, who opened the Bogart Room last Halloween night to a glittering crowd. "The Bistro was the first Chicago gay bar modeled after the New York discotheque thing. * * * At first, Bogart's was baciscally gay. The gays came to check it out; they wanted to stay on top of what was happening and see if they were welcome. They are. But the room's 95 percent straight now, and the gays that come here come like everybody else – to be seen." Like the Bearded Lady of the Bistro, who had a brief flirtation with the Bogart Room before moving back to dance at Dugan's.

rob |

Anyone remembers memories, good times or people that worked there after 1989 like shelly(bartender)Chucky (dorrman / security) the meat packers. T.L. Noble (manager at some point) Dave Vargo (doorman ... Lightman and some times DJ) Casey Ro's BF then. Let me know,

Chuck Rhodes |

I grew up in the southeast and moved to Madison, Wisconsin in July, 1972. My first venture to gay bars was in January, 1973. First, the Trip, then the Ritz and Broadway Sam's. In spring, 73, I made my first trip to Dugan's Bistro. I had died and gone to Heaven. I would drive in from Madison and go to the Bistro, get drunk and wait for someone to ask me to dance. I remember seeing the Bearded Lady decorated with Xmas tree lights dancing on stage.

I met some guy who worked at the Playboy Club. He invited me to an after-party at Eddie's apartment overlooking Lincoln Park. There were all these hot men, smoking dope and cruising each other. As a shy boy, I was scared sh*tless.

Funny thing, whenever I went to the Bistro after that, the doorman would recognize me and would call me out of the line and I could cut. Eddie would speak to me and a couple of times bought me a drink.

Years later, I was in Chicago and my friend Rodney Scheel of Backdoor/Hotel Washington fame introduced me to Eddie. I knew he was ill but he still knew how to throw a good party.

Every time I hear Love's Theme and a few other songs I think of the Bistro. I can still get into my dancing shoes.

Kathy |

A note to Jim La Baw -- I believe have photos with you in it from one of Bobby's shows...you might remember my nickname more than my real name. In those days I was often callled Stubbs (short hair, not short digits...)

daniel grisham |

OKAY GUYS,I used to work at blinkers disco for ROBBIE CRYSTAL 1978,and my friend marty used to work at the Bistro,I still see him almost everyday.
I have bin to all the chicago clubs and miss them all so much,those memories is what reminds me of who I am,and what keeps me going(I will survive).heres a qucik list,Bistro,The flight,sundays,marylins, the baton,the ranch,gold coast,redought(mis-spelled)loading zone,gloryhole,
alfies,Carols speakeasy, bradway limited,cheeks.kim spaulding was the dancer at bistro,and later paradise club,MARCO went to blinkers, WE love MARCO.The oak tree,belden deli,and lets not forget
the golden nugget on belmont and bradway,spooky fun,I will ask marty to drop some thought here tomorrow..know that crazy b**** has some storys to tell.love to you all (KEEP on JUMPIN).

Danny Goss |

So nice to hear how this club impacted SO many people. Interesting that all the memories are from patrons? So I thought I'd try and give you the perspective from the inside as I was there and part of the "family" from 1977 on. Since I can share information for a roughly 10+ year period I will post in segments for those interested.

I first entered the Bistro in the winter of 1977-78. After going to a gay-themed party in uptown at the Aragon ("Cruising Down The Nile") my date took me to the Bistro. I was 18 and had no problems getting in, Eddie loved having young boys floating around the bar. The Bistro was in the midst of it's major renovation, going from the three room original restaurant layout to the two floor classic design. The place looked dirty and sleazy and the feeling was electric. The DJ booth was still flush with the wall (between what would become the new booth and the dancers stage). Lou had a gigantic picture of Diana Ross on the wall behind him (He "LOVED" Diana!)and I remember we made eye contact and I stared at him the whole time I was dancing...this began a lifelong friendship (and yes a crush on him). I don't remember what he was playing or how long we stayed that night but I knew I had stumbled across something unique and magical. I didn't get back to the Bistro for several months. In the meantime I discovered a whole new set of gay friends, moved to Barry-Clark & Halsted and became a fixture in the Broadway Limited and Crystal Blinkers. One of the guys in our group had invitations to The Bistro's Anniversary Party in May of 1978 and that was my next trip there. That night I was introduced to Max Bailey (assistant Manager to Ronn Veltmann). Max ever the chicken-hawk and me, a young skinny, and by now 19 year old hit it off. I was offered a job as a barback and took it. And so in May 1978 I began what would become the most memorable and happiest period in my life. (To be continued......)

Gale Smith |

I remember the late hours partying at the Bistro, there was nothing like it. Dance!Dance!Dance



beachcomber |

Does anyone remember Randy Goss, a skater with the Ice Capades? He was a very handsome kid with dark hair. We spent one unforgettable night together when I passed through Chicago briefly in February of '77. I'd love to know what happened to him if anyone remembers him.

rob |

OK .... any one knows david Vargo the light men that worked at bistro too .... tell him "berto loves u and forgives U!" good night!

rob |

anyone remembers David Vargo the light man at bistro too's? Is he doing well? Plz let me know.

Hippdickie |

Well...WHERE do I begin???? Am a Chicago "native"...from the southside! Went to my first gay bar on Clark Street in 1968 the Annex...and then later to Shari's! Both "small, dark with a jukebox'...but patrons were allowed to DANCE!!! LOL. Of course...1970 BROUGHT THE FIRST GAY PRIDE PARADE down Clark St....with the Anthem "off of the stoops and into the streets" At least THAT was what was shouted at my dead a**...and I followed their "intructions! Then a little later...in the early 70's..."PQ's" opened. We used to think it stood for PRETTY QUEENS!!!! TOTAL DANCE BAR...!

Michael Dekker aka-Michael Blake |

I was only 18 and ventured into the city via the Richton Park train. I was there during the closing days of the Bistro and helped Eddie Dugan open Paradise Island as a Server in the Paradise Alley Cafe and Bartender. The Bistro was a monument who's close and move to the North side Lakeview location triggered the complete movement of the "Scene." Eddie, Michael K., Deluxe, Tommy and Lou, Hans, Gabriel, Jim and Doug were all great friends during that time. The Bistro was my first bar and the sight for coming out. I even entered the wet jockey shorts contest on my first night and won the prize.

I often spent time with Eddie and friends at his Fullerton apartment for late after hours following closing, just to get up and return to build he new club for the three-phase opening with guest stars like Grace Jones and Viola Wells. (I would work with these and more later in my professional life)

I remember the closing party at the Bistro and still have a brick from the building. I don't keep up with any of those old friends any more, as I am sure that many are gone or retired.

This experience triggered a life long professional career opening nightclubs and restaurants (Mostly Gay)of which I have completed 97 including 4 convention centers. Hat's off Eddie and friends for introducing me to my life's work.

I now life and own my own businesses in San Diego, I couldn't stand the cold any more. I would be happy to hear from anyone that remembers those fantastic times!

Kathy Tracy |

I was first introduced to the Bistro by my friend Joe Carlino in 1975, the year we graduated from High School. Joe had recently come out and wanted me to see the bar he was going to. We lived Indiana, on the safe side of the tracks from Gary. I had a car so we drove in on a Saturday night. That first time there I ended up at a able with Tommy Noble and Bobbby Duncan, who imediately adopted the bar's new straight girl. (Ironic now, considering a dozen years later I finally acknowledged I simply wasn't all that into men and comfortbaly accepted being gay.)

Anyway,, they took me downstairs to the dancers dressing room and that was the beginning of a year and a half adventure. The first drug I ever did was Widow Pane and I can still remember the Christmas tree lights in the bar blinking in 3D hi-def. All those "breakfasts" at the Oak Tree (with the waitress that had a mole on her face)with Tommy, Bobby, Steven and "severe" Mickey. Sometimes Pam joined us. Later, Ron joined the group after he started dating Bobby. Ron and I kept in touch and visited each other when he moved to San Francisco. (He died in 1990.)

I only ever met Eddie in passing but got to know Ronnie Veltman a bit, my biggest memory is that he was always so impeccably dressed and groomed. Michael D, Lou...I remember that once, for some reason, I got to play DJ for about three songs -- I think Lous had to go to the bathrooom and Tommmy was off flirting with someone. (Probably Lou...)Talk about pressure.

In those days I was a would-be photojournalist and I still have photos from the Bistro float during the 1976 gay parade. Hell, they once put my hair up into one of Tommy's Twiiggy caps and snuck me into the baths where Bobby and his dancers were performing so I could take photos. That was an education.

But our common bond was mostly the Bistro. On the dance floor, poppers in hand. Me getting so drunk on Blue blazers on my 19th birthday I ended up sleeping my of the night in my car. Putting up the Christmas decorations and sitting with Tommy while he prepared his wigs before performing.

I moved to LA in September 1976 to attend UCLA. Bobby and I kept in touch for years then drifted apart. I believe there was some disagreement along the way, no doubt over something stupid that now I can't remember. But after visiting in June 1977, I woldn't go back to Chicago for over 20 years.

I've been fortunate enough to make my living as a journalist and author and it's such serendipity coming across these comments because the first novel I ever wrote -- 30 years ago -- was based on characters I met at the Bistro. It was a murder mystery, which seemed very appropriate at the time. I never tried to have it published but it proved to me I could write a book. Last year I dusted it off with the intention of seeing if I could rework it into something publishable. Now I have even more incentive -- it'd be nice to leave as a legacy and homage to all the people I met and our youthful craziness. As Tommy alwasy liked to say, What a good time.

Patrick Crosby |

I think if there's one person everyone would have to remember-- aside from Eddie himself and the Bearded Lady-- it has to be dancer Bobby Duncan. I myself remember him in that late 70s Dr. Pepper commercial, and I read somewhere that he went on to do more in Hollywood, although I do not remember any specifics. Does anybody know his current whereabouts?
A few other names from the mid-late 70s: Jim Broadwick (short muscular kid with curly blond hair, who only liked older guys with mustaches), Mike Mayer (good looking Blond kid), and an older guy named Regis, who used to make his own Comic Books, that prominently featured LGBT characters that hurled shurs at each other. One was called "Star Bores." Then there was Don White who owned the boat. Had a nice trip out on lake Michigan in it once, along with some other people. Then there was the older rich guy, who always made you laugh, Bob Rothschild. (Passed away about 5 years ago, aged about 90).
Most of these people did not dance, so tended to congergate abound the pool table. Jim Broadwick was too young to get in :)

Jim Phillips |

The thing I remember most about the Bistro was every night at 10PM the dance floor would open up with the Love Unlimited Orchestra's Love's Theme. The song would start, the curtain above the stairs would open as the mirrored balls drew the crowd to the floor like moths to a flame. Now it's the PGA theme song... and why is it every wedding or baseball game I go to I hear the Village Peoples YMCA song?

Does anyone remember Percy, the skinny fella who danced in some wild outfits and were those shells on the wall by the pool table? How about the Christmas where the dance floor ceiling was decorated with trees and presents hanging upside down?

I had a major crush on a 'Mr. Bistro' who was Italian and I think his name was Mike? He married a local female comedian who resembled Totie Fields.

What a great place it was.
Jim Phillips

Dominic |

Does everyone remember the shooting stars, snow, red ruby lips and dance sign that lit up (?), Crystal lights in the front bar, lighted dance floor, to name a few? I was 17, just began working in the loop for a major corporation, and actually ventured into the Bistro out of curiosity, without knowing anything about the club. There was nothing before or since like it. I've been to the Studio 54 in New York and this blew it away IMHO. Friends straight and gay, sober and drunk, high on god knows what came, even family (Of mine). We lived for the weekends and the Bistro. It was a BLAST. I've got some precious souvenir's of the place....Alien matches, a couple of shooting stars, and a brick (I literally watched the tear down from my office window). Sadly, nothing has come close to the Bistro since.

20in79 |

"I remember my favorite cruise spot, sitting on a big block like box near the bathrooms....."

I remember that box! Jutting out from a back wall. And I think I remember the interior walls of the bar area were painted a deep forest green, right? The long oblong central bar stretched out like racetrack. First time I'd ever seen a string of lights encased in plastic tubes and used as trimming around the edges of the architectural elements. I was in awe (and easily awed.)

20in79 |

You could've said "Hi-Fi," Bill ;-) I had a portable cassette deck (!!) and would sit it up next to the radio to record half-hour sets of Lou DiVito's mixes on WDAI. Really stepped up to big-time audio-grabbing when I got a combo unit with FM and tape recorder in the same case. God, what I wouldn't give to have some of those rattling old cassette tapes now.

Center Stage was in a refurbished theater. And by "refurbished" I mean basically they removed the first floor rows of seating, and said "Voila! Dance floor!" There was still a proscenium arch (framing nothing)and of course impressive ceiling height. Narrow bar had been knocked out of the former concession stand. The balcony was intact as a mezzanine cruise area and some of the theater seats had been left bolted to the floor so it a great place to go off and escape for some relative privacy.

Not sure how close to Wrigley Field because I never saw the neighborhood in daylight. As a newcomer to Chicago, all I knew was that it was close the baseball park on the EL-stop map I had.

Vivid memories of Center Stage because that's where I met my first club hook-up and first long-term crush. A guy named Dixon who was well-known for rolling-skating in white shorts along the Oak, Elm, Maple corridors of Lakeshore Drive.

Wasn't there a lesbian bar in a nearby block not far from the Bistro?

Bill Barger |

My first big stereo (stereo? did I say that? lol) was tuned to WGCI with Chile Chiles ......oh, the moronic disco I craved, coming from recent "meaningful" dorm days and Cat Stevens, BB King. My major first love mentioned above sent me Love to Love You Donna Summers record.....which was always out of sight, always on my mind.....I remember my favorite cruise spot, sitting on a big block like box near the bathrooms.....MMMMm, MDA....I must say I would eat some right now, a bald 55 ex hippy, when I show my college ID from 1972 to coworkers, it is disbelief..

themooksman |

I don't remember Center Stage, but I do remember the Salvation Army Record shop on the corner of Sheffield and Webster. If by the magic of a time machine, young people today could go back to that place it would literally be a riot-- 25 cents/LP!
Anyone know what happened to Bon Romano? He's the one I remember saying "I wouldn't know Led Zeplin from a lead baloon" the night they were hang'n at the Bistro. If only I could go back in a time machine and get their autographs! I wouldn't be a bit surprised if they were there just as some of Eddie's friends :)

20in79 |

Anyone remember Center Stage, near Wrigley Field?

themooksman |

Broadway Sam's up near Loyola?

itjim |

Originally Posted by DJJM3.COM
Since you want to ask questions, answer these?

1) What was Chicago's Original Dance music station before BMX?

2) Who was the 1st mixer at that Dance music station who mixed live?

3) What was the name of Chicago's 1st two Disco Clubs?

4) What was the name of the 1st DJ turntable??

1) WDAI 94.7
2) Lou DeVito mixed evenings on WDAI 94.7
3) Time Square & Faces Disco
4) Thorens turntable ( before the 1800 technics)

itjim |

Hey guys, didn"t think I'd get this much of a response to my memeories of Bistro. But it s good to see all the great feedback. Beside the pics og Bistro here's some more from my archives. This was a writup on Eddie Dugan when he passed away that was in the Chicago Sun-Times. There is no better testimony to death than the jubilee of life.

Eddie Dugan was the city's most celebrated party figure in the mid-'70s, with the only other consideration coming from the chi-chi corner of Abra Anderson. In May, 1973, he opened Dugan's Bistro at Dearborn and Hubbard, which was the Midwest's first gay bar and disco. The Bistro's eccentric and communal electricity preceded narcissistic New York dives such as Studio 54 and Jay McInerney.

At Dugan's Bistro, outside sidewalks were dusted in silver glitter, while inside tiny sponge balls and artificial snowflakes fell over the dance floor. The dance club was a high-camp ground for visiting notables such as Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Rudolf Nureyev and Elton John, who partied amid scantily clad male and female go-go dancers and sonorous disco music. The intense and irrepressible environment splintered barriers between gays and straights, blacks and whites, and my gosh, even men and women. Dugan probably could have made Spuds McKenzie heel like a hound dog.

Dugan (Edward Davison) died at age 40 in April during the planning stages of his Bistro Too, which will hold its grand opening this weekend at 5015 N. Clark. It sounds cliched to say his spirit lives on in the new bistro, but I wouldn't mind being remembered through such verve and vitality.

"Eddie had been sick (with AIDS) for about five months, and he just sort of disappeared," Chuck Renslow said during a conversation in the new club. Renslow was Dugan's friend and partner in the Bistro Too, and is the former publisher of Gay Life newspaper. "When he died, the gay press carried it, and there were tiny obituaries the straight press. But it was not presented in any way the way it was. I figured for what he contributed to our (gay) community, there was not the coverage there should have been.

"He was a dynamic person," Renslow said. "Eddie would think nothing of reaching into the cash register at the end of a Saturday night, taking out all the money and saying, `Let's go to New York!' That's why he wanted me there, to handle all the money. And on the other hand, nobody knew it, but Eddie was a religious man. In fact, when he died he gave a lot of his money to his church. Most people never saw beyond the glitter.

"And there was glitter, but that was a facade."

Ron Ehemann was Dugan's personal and business attorney since 1978, and he referred to Auntie Mame to describe his client, "You know how she said life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death? That was Eddie's philosophy. That's why he would help out those who were down and out or in need of money. A long time ago in the first will I ever drafted for him, he requested that `I Love the Nightlife' be played at his funeral - and it was. He believed first and foremost his job was to throw a party and selling drinks was secondary."

The attitude and concept of the Bistro Too is pegged to the point where Dugan's Bistro would be today, had it not been razed in 1982 in the spirit of North Loop redevelopment - a parking lot. (Between 1982 and 1984, Dugan wound up at the Paradise, 2848 N. Broadway, but was aced out in a power struggle with partner Steve Weil. The club eventually closed in 1985.)

Bistro Too's first-floor bar features four large video screens and two smaller slide screens. Original Bistro designer and Bistro Too general manager T. L. Noble colored the room in comfortable carnation pinks with bold dashes of aquamarine and green. On the club's second floor, a small game room is anchored by a pool table. Adjacent to the game room is a former '30s Swedish dance hall that has been remodled into a dance room. Chicago artist Octavio hand-painted the city's skyline on the north wall, with a lake sunrise painted on the south wall. When black lights hit the skyline buildings, the high-rise lights appear to be burning through the windows.

The original Bistro's octagonal design hovers above the dance floor, stressed by a a continuous pink strobe arc line. Mirror dance balls are lighted from underneath instead of from the ceiling. The Bistro Too has retained the ballroom's original hard oak parquet dance floor, complete with cork lining underneath. On the east side of the room is a modest stage that will be used for in-house dancers. Hanging on the west balcony is a pink neon sign from the original Bistro that blinks, "boogie!" You also can expect occasional special-effects surprises, such as artificial fog and snow and lots of feathers. Renslow is chomping at the bit to order the club's first confetti cannon.

But there is no better special effect than the clientele.

I called my friend Merv, a member of the clientele all-star team, and rudely interrupted him during a cigarette break from his beat as society editor of the Santa Monica (Calif.) Evening Outlook. I asked him to recall our initial visit to the Bistro, which was in mid-October, 1976.

"As usual, we began dinner at the Berghoff, and then we ran up to Lynn Burton's (Bert Weinman's TV Ford Man, who also ran the now-defunct Surf Club)," he said. "After that we tried the Bistro and man, after Lynn Burton, it was like Dante's Inferno. It was wonderful. All of the pulsating music, and the bearded lady was up on the stage, peeling off housedress after housedress. I remember we very much wanted to dance, and we saw these two people. One guy was dressed as Miss Piggy. The other guy was dressed as a drag queen. It was, `I will if you will.' And then while we were dancing, they passed us these poppers (amyl nitrate, a '70s dance-floor fad)." (The Bistro Too will not hand out or sell poppers.)

How does one capture the liberated spirit of the old Bistro under the cloud of new conservatism?

"There's no question people's attitudes are different," Renslow said. "But it's still the same formula - a very contemporary room, high-tech and the latest music. We're on the cutting edge, and we've always been on the cutting edge. Neither Eddie or I thought you could re-create something that's gone. But there was a certain vitality, life and energy that was in the old Bistro. That's what we wanted to recapture. Not the look, or anything, because it is very different." Renslow added that he and Dugan had completed all the other concepts of Bistro Too and that Dugan was supervising construction until the month before he died.

In a three-week preliminary run, the Bistro Too has drawn the same comfortable mix of gays and straights as its predecessors. "We're predominantly gay, of course, but we've been drawing both," Renslow said. "We'll know a lot more after people hear about it."

Renslow's friendship with Dugan lasted a decade.

"I used to own the Gold Coast, which was around the corner from the Bistro," he recalled. "It was a natural thing for me to go to the Bistro when I wanted to hide from everybody and vice versa. Sometimes we were close friends, sometimes not so close. I was much, much too conservative for Eddie. We once went to New York together and we had a terrible time. Eddie's spirit was something else. He could walk into a room with maybe 10 people - and he wasn't partying and dancing himself - but he just knew how to direct people's energies, to bring out the talents in other people. Yeah, I think his death has been neglected, but after all, what did Shakespeare say?

"The good is often interred with the bones?"

Jim Blythe |

So many of us remember little Peter. My dear friend Carol Cheeseman (Cheese) was one of Peter's closes friends and I believe she still keeps in contact with him. She maybe able to give you more information. You may contact her at cjcheese@charter.net

20in79 |

Studio One! wow, yes.

Jimmy actually worked off and on at the Bistro, back in that narrow back wall coat check too (I think) -- when he could be bothered to show up. (Or maybe he only had privileges to occasionally hang out back there to help Peter out.)

Jimmy was a bit younger kid than the rest of us. Maybe 17-18. Slender, artistic temperament (without any apparent artistic talent to justify the moodswings).

Peter's birthday that year, big bash planned at the apartment on the corner of Rush and Oak (opposite corner from the Oak Tree). Peter had the apartment immaculately clean and polished for his party. It was a full-floor old-style townhouse apartment, but really seedy and rundown. Walls in the living room painted a deep navy blue.

So Jimmy, the young artiste, decides to go all Keith Haring on the walls -- as a b-day surprise to Peter. Problem was, Keith Haring hadn't invented himself yet, and Jimmy hadn't the slightest clue. So basically he just scrawled up the walls with a lot of random graffiti. The very day of Peter's birthday party. Peter came home, and naturally furious about new wall "murals". Much hilarity and breakage ensued!

ha, good times. I remember lots of the names mentioned here -- Tommy Noble and others. Who was the devastatingly hunky blond guy, really straight? (straight and unhavable, unless there was coke around). Whoever he was... had him! ha. Hadn't thought about any of this for years.

Heck, Grant, we probably know each other.

Grant Smith |

Oh yeah, I remember Peter had that Oscar! I think I remember a picture of him kissing it somewhere too...lol...I can't say I remember Jimmy off hand tho...maybe...and the club I think you're talking about in LA was none other than Studio One...

20in79 |

wait, that wasn't Backstreet in LA. I'm thinking of Atlanta now. What was that other huge warehouse-like club on the other side of Santa Monica? One block down a side street can't remember the name. Great bookstore nearby can't remember the name of it either. I wasn't concentrating much on filing away memories back then. Though I do recall Quaaludes ;-)

20in79 |

Yes! Grant, thank you! I should've mentioned Peter's mustache.

Do you know Peter collected art deco antiques and he had a genuine Oscar? Pretty sure it was 1932 Oscar for Cinematography for a movie called The Good Earth. We used to fondle it constantly until Peter would take it away and put it in niche in the entryway of that ratty apartment.

I used to have a lot of photos of Peter and Jimmy (and the Oscar, all the gold-plate rubbed off, sitting on the coffee table surrounded by... paraphernalia ;-) )

Yeah, we were Peter's roommates for 4 or 5 months, before my boyfriend and I moved to LA. -- and became regulars at Revolver -- and then Rage! where I see you worked as well, Grant. Amazing! My boyfriend was tall, Mexican, long curly hair, like rock-star hair. Me just a regular skinny blue-eyed kid from the Midwest, moved to Chicago for college.

I actually started going to the Bistro with a girl I was somehow... married to... me 20, her 18. I think there was a rumor at the Bistro that we were some kind of kinky brother-sister act (and god, the 3ways we used to score!) Then we met Peter, then the Mexican boyfriend entered the picture and the high-school sweetheart wife left Chicago.

Yeah, kinda crazy times ;-) Lots of it all tightly wired up in my head as MDA flashbacks. But I could draw a floor plan of the Bistro circa 1979 that I bet would be scale-model accurate.

So wild, to run across this site tonight. Those photos topping the page are tripping me right out. Now I realize I was living through Boogie Nights! Thanks for responding, Grant. In LA we landed at Revolver and Backstreet in 1980, and soon after that, Rage, but no club has ever come close to the sheer tingly joy of the Bistro.

Grant Smith |

I remember Peter...little guy with cury hair and a little moustache...he had a great sense of humor, sarcastic wit and a great guy.

20in79 |

Chicago is where I came out in 1979, age 20, and the Bistro was the first gay club where I ever partied. I was close friends with a guy named Peter who worked the coat check. He had a boyfriend named Jimmy. They fought constantly, like two cats in a sack, and I should know -- my first boyfriend and I shared an apartment with Peter and Jimmy for a few months.

The apartment was a second floor walk-up right on the corner of Rush and Oak (long gone and probably a high-rise location now, I'm sure.) There was a seafood restaurant on the first floor below us.

Anyway, all that tangent is just to verify with anybody who might remember Peter and Jimmy. I have to say, my heart just about stopped when I read a comment above referring to "little Jimmy" being a Gacy victim. Thought, holy fvck! not the Jimmy I know!? But whew, I see the wiki article for Gacy says he was arrested in 1978, so that would be outside the edge of the timeline for the Jimmy I knew.

Peter was (and I hope still is) a total cuddlebunny sweetheart of a guy. Very small in stature, probably not much taller than 5'4", if that. Does anyone here remember Peter? The year would've been 1979 and 1980. MDA (pre-ecstasy) was just hitting the scene, and it came in the form of a brown powder, wrapped in packets of tin foil, and tasted like bitter dirt -- er, or so I'm told.

Patrick Crosby |

Does anyone remember the night (probably 1975 or 1976) Led Zeplin partied all night in a booth at the Bistro? Word spread quickly that they were there. "I wouldn't know Led Zeplin from a Lead Baloon!" I remember my friend Bob Romano (a music student, studing classical piano at Roosevelt at the time) saying. Everyone in our little group pretty much agreed. I remember thinking they were basically a bunch of has beens in the rock world (I was exclusively interested in classical music by this time, and had the snobbish attitude that the little I knew about popular music was already too much :). But the few long haired "hippie" guys there, who appreciated Led Zeplin (and even looked like younger closes of the band members :), went up and talked to them at their booth, and the band members were really cool. To think of it! I could have gotten their autographs! Just for the asking!

Cindy Schulman Goldfarb |

I was a big fan of the Bistro when I was 18 years old, which is 34 years ago. I have the fondest memories of those times. I was never in better shape from dancing all night to Gloria Gaynor, Barry White, etc. I have not been able to replicate those precious memories, dancing on Friday and Saturday nights til wee hours in the morning and then going to Oak Tree for breakfast at 4:00 a.m., nor do I think I would even make it to 1:00 a.m. at this stage of my life. I actually am looking for a friend, Sam (Dennis) Gibson who owned Sundays and a couple of other bars after that. He moved to New Mexico and opened up a gay club there which is now closed. Does anyone know where to get ahold of him?
Thank you in advance if you have any info.
Also, for the person asking about Ronnie Veltman, Ronnie is in Chicago, looking younger as ever. I believe is owned a florist, but now is doing something else. Not sure what. If I run into him, I will have him to to this site.
I went to Markey Days a couple of weeks ago and was hoping to see some of my old friends from the Bistro. I didn't see anyone I knew, but I had a great time.

Grant Smith |

I worked at the Bistro for a few years in the 70's and knew the whole crew, what a great place. It should always be listed along side all of the great influential New York and LA Discos of the 70's, it was that good. I worked the door, the coat room, played waiter, and even filled in DJ'ing for Lou one night as I was an aspiring DJ. I also DJ'd for Eddies birthday party one year that was held on the 2nd floor that had been cleaned out and decorated just for the occasion. I later became a full-time DJ, working at a straight club up on Broadway called BANANAS, and eventually at Coconuts, another mixed/straight club that Ediie was a partner in. I worked for a while at Michael Graber's THE RIVERSIDE CLUB in the early 80's, then on to DJ/VJ at CAROL'S SPEAKEASY where I installed one of the first music video big screen projection systems for a dance floor. Later I moved to Dallas to DJ/VJ at MISTRAL, and then to LA where I became head VJ and video department manager for REVOLVER in West Hollywood. Here in L.A. I re-united with former Bistro dancer Bobby Duncan, and we stayed in touch for many years. I also went back to Chicago on one occasion had had a great visit with another former Bistro Dancer: Tommy Noble, who was now running Bistro II up on Clark Street. I know Eddie Dugan sadly passed away in the 80's, but I often wonder what became of Managers Ronnie Veltman, Michael O'Callahan and Michael D. But what great memories The Bistro gave us all, memories that will never be forgotten. And me? After a long hiatus from DJ'ing over the 90's, I rencently got the bug again and have played the past few years at two other legendary clubs: Rage in West Hollywood, and Oil Can Harry's in Studio City, the later of which I play CLASSIC DISCO. Just thought I'd share :) Thanks to all for the great BISTRO memories.


Hey! Does anyone remember Randy? He used to dance up on the stage near the dance floor. He was short and had dark hair. Very cute and had a major crush on him. He would have been there around 1982 before the Bistro was closed. Used to go there on Thursday and Friday. And does anyone remember Marco, Karen, Marty and Louis? Love reading all the memories... Keep em coming. :)

itjim |

I made Bistro my home after wandering in from Gold Coast which was at 505 n Clark then, after hitting it off this hottie there. I was 19 then ..it was the bi-centenial year 1976 and they had lowered the dring age to 19.

I knew the Bistro before they remodeled before the the (tube)or the lounge that they layered with glass and glitter and before they added the dance floor with the built in lights and the neon lights on the support columns and the DJ booth which they relocated above the dance floor.

In those days if someone jumped to hard on the dance floor the record would skip from the vibration. It was dark with the walls painted black, sorta reminded me of how Manhole used to look.

I swaer I can still see the Bearded lady, Kim Spaulding and TL (toomy Noble)dancing under that one huge strobe light on stage which seemed to get everyone messed up from the strobe light going all night!

But those ruby red lips on the black walls surely lit up the dance floor!

Lou Divito in my opinion was one of the greatest DJ's of all time. He knew what to play and when!

I remember the euphoria of screamming and yelling of the crowd on the dance floor as he threw on a record that everyone had been waiting for and sent the crowd over the top.. It sent chills down my spine as the crowd fell into frenzy over it!

I still remember the confetti and snow they pushed out of the exhaust which made it look like winter in the heat of summer and with the side doors open facing Dearborn you could see people on the sidewalk, straight people and gapers looking in to see what all the fuss was about. Then after the lines would start to form outside they would close the doors..it was great bait for the crowds gay and staright who had never been there.

I still hang around and was part of the gang that hung around with Lou Lou aka Lou Divito.. I still see Tommy Noble the light man and stategist behind the whole Bistro concept as well as Jeff Berry (DJ),Danny Goss (DJ), Shelly (bartender) and even
some who made it to Paradise after Bistro closed.

To me the Bisto experience was awesome.... corrdinated with the 75 cent drink nights, the theme parties, pride and Eddie Dugan's birthday parties it was a time of awe and well you just had to be there to understand! There's no place like BISTRO! EVER AGAIN!

themooksman |

Don't remember Manhole, but I *do* remember Man's Country! Haha! I wasn't a "regular" there though, by any means. I just *wasn't* THAT kind of boy! :)

Getting serious now, I really love you'r poem, Billy Adams. I'm wondering whether I knew you or not way back then. I was a University of Chicago Student at the time, if that jars your memory at all.

Does anyone remember Marks Shannon, the gorgeous beefy blonde dude (used to get up on table and dance at the Baton, I was told) I had a mad crush on, but who ended his own life back in about 1977? I still haven't gotten over it.

recent pic of me there. I moved to California in 1978, and 10 years later took up surfing. A hated nick from Childhood, Moose (only one girl in my school http://www.geocities.com/vmiller261/ was skinnier than me, but she never got picked on because of it), got resurrected when my surf Bros decided I needed a nickname. (If I hadn't told them I used to be Moose, I would have been Peach! Lucky for me, they liked Moose better. Else I'd have been a fruit the rest of my life :). Animal nicknames are actually highly honored in the surfing World. With a nick like Moose, I'm right up there with the Hawk, the Bull, and even Rabbit! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oK9o--ZOekQ

themooksman |

Don't remember Manhole, but I *do* remember Man's Country! Haha! I wasn't a "regular" there though, by any means. I just *wasn't* THAT kind of boy! :)

Getting serious now, I really love you'r poem, Billy Adams. I'm wondering whether I knew you or not way back then. I was a University of Chicago Student at the time, if that jars your memory at all.

Does anyone remember Marks Shannon, the gorgeous beefy blonde dude (used to get up on table and dance at the Baton, I was told) I had a mad crush on, but who ended his own life back in about 1977? I still haven't gotten over it.

recent pic of me there. I moved to California in 1978, and 10 years later took up surfing. A hated nick from Childhood, Moose (only one girl in my school http://www.geocities.com/vmiller261/ was skinnier than me, but she never got picked on because of it), got resurrected when my surf Bros decided I needed a nickname. (If I hadn't told them I used to be Moose, I would have been Peach! Lucky for me, they liked Moose better. Else I'd have been a fruit the rest of my life :). Animal nicknames are actually highly honored in the surfing World. With a nick like Moose, I'm right up there with the Hawk, the Bull, and even Rabbit! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oK9o--ZOekQ

Miss regina |

ANyone remember The Manhole or Cheeks?

Miss regina |

OMG! The memories! I was the biggest faghag LOL! I loved, loved loved the Bistro. Does anyone remember Memory Lane? Native Love by Divine takes me back to the decadence of the 80's and my times at the Bistro- Fishnet dresses with only a thong and bra under thigh high stiletto boots-where else could anyone express themselves?

Billy Adams |

the winds of Chicago
so long ago
blew our ships together.
we wrecked each other
in the summer steam
of the Bistro --
so long ago.
I wouldn't dance with you
the first time you asked me,
but i saw you the next night
down the street
you came on to me so sweet
that i watched my first sunrise
my magical city open her eyes
in your arms and dirty sheets.

Okay, not the best prose, but what wonderful memories. I wrote this for Guy Fisher, a sweet, crazy blond that I met at the Bistro, I thought in 1973, the year I moved to Chicago (Lisle, IL, actually) from North Carolina, fresh out of high school in my yellow TR6 convertible. My roommate and dear, most wonderful friend, Roy Harris, took me to the Bistro the first time, I believe it had just opened. Michael, a beautiful black guy, worked the door and always made me show him my fake ID, and then give me a big kiss. What a flirt. Guy and I would slip out and smoke pot in his old Volvo stationwagon and then go back in, drink tequila sunrises and dance the night away. The Bearded Lady was a joyful shock, until she turned on the microphone, then just a shock. What a mouth! The Bistro WAS disco music, it was the best place to dance and meet people. We used to take our straight friends there to dance and drink and they loved it as much as we did. Thanks for the memories of real disco music and one of its grandest dance halls.

Billy Adams
(Washington, DC)

themooksman |

Does anyone remember the crowd that used to hang around the pool table? The older gentleman, Bob Rothschild (sadly now deceased), Lawrence Lenicki, Bob Estrada, Bob's former lover "Michael" (never knew his last name) Jeff Ebner, Ricky Hanks, Bob Romano who was studying to be a concert pianist at Roosevelt U, "Little Jimmy" (a Gacy victim), Don White (the guy who owned the boat) Billy Sneidoff. Then there was Joe, who was an accountant, somewhat overweight (warned me about investing in Silver Bell Mines-- never believe an annual report!) and a friend of Joe's named Bill, I think. Can anyone add to this list? There are a few faces I cannot name anymore, including one really hot boy who played pool. I remember drooling over him all the time; then some guy who was only around a short time told me the boy was upset at me for turning him down. Huh???!! Never could find out if that was true-- if somehow I'd missed a hint. I was later told I have a tendency to do that. Darn, that was over 30 years ago.
Me: tall, thin, dark blond hair, U of Chicago student. Used to amuse myself by telling Lawrence who loved disco how Arnold Schoenberg's atonal compositions were so far superior. Eventually, Lawrence was applying the term to the darnedest of things. Anything I spoke about positively he would claim was "atonal." Soooo funny. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atonality
In a way, Lawrence won out-- atonality is by and large a part of music history today, although during this time, many contemporary composers were still using the basic idea in their compositions. Then, composers like David del Tredici started writing http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Del_Tredici works like "In Memory of a Summer Day", which was about 45 minutes of variations on theme very reminiscent of Robert Schumann. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Schumann

Bill Barger |

Thanks. I grew up and out to be proud, made more so by my first hot hot love I met in the Bistro--Bill Kucera, very handsome mustached muscle man from Michigan. He drove a jacked up love box Ford van stocked with white cross and mmmmMDA!!! He always admonished me to remain true to my identity, revealed and shared the Bakery,the Gold Coast, the Ritz, and his Shelby Mustang back at his lakefront tech and tasteful glass house in St. Joe. His partner, Jim DeVries, was tolerant and wise, a gem. I called him, in 1989, knowing what I would hear, that my full of life superman had been an early victim.

His letters and cards are in my little wood box. They advise me to be careful, and strong, and smart.
St. Joe rocked my world, more than he ever knew, and he knew quite a bit.

St. Joe, I hope you read this, on your quad process 6k ram fastest-in-heaven laptop. Dude, you still rock. And I still love you.

themooksman |

Hey Bill, who's to say what you should and shouldn't post? But I can tell you it's not *all* doom and gloom. A lot of people are still alive, or were until relatively recently (one old friend of mine, Bob, died a few years back of old age). "Lawrence" still lives in Elgin (works for a car rental place) and I'm still alive!
I left Chicago for Southern California in 1977, just before the "Big Snow," but I still remember the Bistro and Gold Coast very well. I loved the Bearded Lady; sorry to hear he's passed on. Bobby Duncan was a sweet kid too. Far as I know, he's still alive too.
My fondest Bistro memory of all: the night Led Zeplin was hanging out there! No they didn't dance or anything like that, they pretty much just stayed in their booth and ordered drinks. They were really friendly to the few kids who wanted their autographs. Most my friends sinply admitted they "wouldn't know Led Zeplin from a LED Baloon" and this was true. I think we all kind of figured they were just some freaky sort of "has beens" from the acid rock world or something like that. In reality, they were just getting started. I now see their t-shirts worn by young men all the time!

Bob V. |

Wow, what great memories. I grew up in the suburbs, Oak Lawn to be exact, and I started making the trip to the Bistro around 1976. It was love at first sight. I started dating Lou DiVito early on (as did many many others) and spent a lot of time at his apartment on wells, next to Cabrini Green. We had a lot of great nights in the club. Eddie was always a gentleman and I also remember the light guy--I think his name was Tommy. There was also another club Eddie had an interest in--up north on Lake Shore Drive..I think on Foster? I don't remember the name. I remember seeing the Weathergirls, or were they called Two Tons of Fun then. the bartenders were all great and the crowd was unbelieveable. The dance floor was the most fun---up the small flight of stairs with Lou's DJ booth up to the right, with it's commanding view of the floor. It's funny....even with all the drugs that we did, and all the sex, (and there was a lot of sex), when I look back it all seemed kind of innocent. I truly miss them all...I send a kiss to Lou and hope you are happy looking down on us.......

Andrew Janis |

I was at the Bistro in those days.
I don't remember posting anything here and I tried to log in but my e-mail address isn't in your data base.

Andrew Janis |

I remember going into the Bistro, and this wasn't easy. I was only 17 going on 18 at the time. I then ended making this my home on weekends.
I met alot of pepole there,really great people, this was at the end of the Bistro. I then was one of the guys that had the privlage of opening Paradise which was also a magical place. All I have to say now is that it was great and nothing comes close to those magical days.

allan |

I came to bistro in may of '79, was 18 back then... time really goes by fast.
it was one of the best clubs i ever went to. hard to think, but it'll be 26 years this year since bistro closed.
so many great memories...


Living in Ohio, I traveled to Chicago for the first time in Nov 1973. After 3 visits to the city and falling in Love with the town and The Bistro I was ready to move! I met The Bearded Lady (B.L.) the first month in town at a friends party. BL was with a lady friend "Cheese" and I knew from then on we would be friends. I kept in touch with The Bearded Lady up until his death. As of today I still communicate with Cheese who now resides in Glenwood, MN.
The Bistro memories will remain with me forever as the best club.

Bill Barger |

I grew up in Arlington Hts. I happened upon the Bistro during my very first adventures into the gay world--at the Newberry Theatre. I was 20. Those old farts at the Newberry (of which I am now an old letcher my self, LOL) thrilled me at every hand on my knee, usually revolted me a moment later, but a few I actually left with, briefly carried on torturous times, before returning to my girlfriend at college in Macomb. Anyway, the Bistro was magic to me. Hot guys, flannel, the Dry Look, MDA. The Bearded Lady. My careful always butch stance and cowboy dance. Underneath, glorious euphoria.

Very cool to relive it here, too. Thanks for this unique and special site.

Wayne |

I remember going to Dugan's Bistro back in 1975 to 1977. Such a fabulous Disco. Then my friend and I would leave there and go to the Gold Coast for more fun.

Jeff Weseman |

wow!!! i remember the first time i walked into the Bistro, the smells were tantalizing. met some friends that are still close to me. i remember the bearded lady on stage with x-mas tree lights under his outfit. the 75 cent liquor night Lou in the DJ booth. it was such a great experience. thanks for the sight

Bob Sherwood |

I grew up with Eddie Dugen on The far west side of Chicago. I first knew him when we both lived on Laramie Avenue. We went to St. Mel High together and Eddie used to come with my family to our summer home in Michigan. Eddie went to Hollywood for a brief time and even appeared in one movie. I lost track of him after that, but when I heard about Dugan's Bistro, I called and was told he had passed away. If that is true, he died much too young.

Robert Parnell |

I found a place where all the music Lou played online. Of all places! WBMX.COM. They have a high energy station on the website that is just too much for words.

itjim |

You are right the address should read 420 N. Dearborn. at the corner of Dearborn and Hubbard.

Here' some Bistro history:

I was at the Toga Party :)

On Sept. 27, 1975, the VD bus stopped outside the Bistro. Before AIDS, back in the '70s, a bus traveled from bar to bar testing customers for VD. They would sometimes test 1,000 people a night.

Around January 1976 rumors were rife that the Bistro and the Gold Coast (501 N. Clark Street) were closing down. Apparently, the area was scheduled for urban renewal, and people were leaving like crazy. Then the empty office and store buildings were re-rented and people started moving back.

An article in the Chicago Gay Crusader (Jan. 21, 1976) read: "The Bistro is still in business, despite all the rumors to the contrary, and they're doing remodeling. The Tube, it's to be called. The back room of this popular disco is being remodeled into a real wild 'cruise' room, with silver and glitter and whatnot."

March 1976 saw the Dugan U.S.O Party with production numbers from Bobby and the "Duganettes," who repeated their performances at Man's Country.

1976 was also the bicentennial year, and so it was red, white and blue for the June 3 Gay Pride Week Benefit starring Bertha Butt and lots of go-go boys.

On Dec. 20, 1977, the Bistro hosted a fur fashion show by Bonwit Teller. The Baton's own Chili Pepper and Audrey Bryant modeled the clothes.

In 1978, Lou Di Vito was the Bistro's DJ. At the time, the Bistro was giving out discount cards on the records they played. If you heard a song you liked, you asked Lou Di Vito what it was. He wrote it down on a card, which the customer could take to Sounds Good Record World or Gramophone Records and buy the disc at a discount.

Recording artist Evelyn Thomas ("I Want To Make It On My Own") signed autographs and hands out 25 free albums on Oct. 7, 1978.

On Oct. 16, 1978, Leonard Matlovich, Rev. Troy Perry and Dave Kopay were the special guests at the Harvest Table for Human Rights, a benefit sponsored by Illinoisans to Stop the Briggs Initiative. The evening began with a cocktail reception from 5 to 7 p.m. at Dugan's Bistro.
Midnight shows in October 1978 starred Alan Lozito as Sister Too Much, Consuella Lopez and Spermola.

Prizes for the 1978 6th Annual Halloween Costume Party were 1st prize $500 cash, 2nd prize, $200, 3rd prize $100 cash. Cover was $5.

In January 1979, Heather Fontane and Roski Fernandez appeared in the Show of Shows, Sheila Ceasar and d*** Gallagher entertained during the cocktail hour, and two Bistro employees were Mark Beckwith and Tom Economus.

Things get sleazy at the Bistro in October 1979 with Medusa Ann Wallflower's big party "Medusa Pigs Out At The Bistro." One paper reported that "This anti-chic gala is scheduled to start at 10 p.m. with a dress theme that's being billed as sleazy, lowdown. The flyers have only been out for a few days and already the whole town is humming ('hummm"). The door charge will include a complimentary bottle of poppers, a free buffet, plus many unmentionable surprises."

Oct. 27, recording artist Melba Moore appeared to preview her new album Burn, and Oct. 29, 1979 brought Lilly White and puppeteer Steve Margrave to entertain at the Show of Shows. 1 a.m.

Ad in Aug. 14, 1980 Gay Chicago reads: "A Funny Thing Happened To Me On The Way To The Bistro. Friends, Romans & Duganites: Bring Me Your Togas! Wednesday, Aug. 20, 1980. A Special Birthday Party for Eddie Dugan." Bistro bartender Leo Beausoleil appears on the Gay Chicago cover.

Ken |

You guys have the address wrong. I still have a matchbook which lists the address as 420 N. Dearborn. Hubbard runs east west, not north south. As I recall 111 west hubbard might have been the Redoubt, another favorite gay bar of mine from that era.

The Bistro was my first gay bar experience too. What a wonderful place, especially on thursday nights when drinks were only $.75 and the place was packed with the hottest men. When I hear "Relight my Fire" I can close my eyes and I am back in the Bistro. I was in the neighborhood last week, the former location of the Bistro is still a parking lot. What a shame.

robsf |

Dugan's Bistro in Chicago---

Along with 12 West, Flamingo, and Trocadero Transfer, - one of the legendary clubs WHERE IT ALL STARTED!!!!!!!!!

itjim |

I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and my first gay experience was entering The Bistro. It was heaven, paradise, Studio 54 the exeperience I have yet to re-expereince and as of yet some have come close but it hasn't been duplicated.

Listening to Lou DiVito Award winning billboard DJ in 1978 transcended me into another dimesnsion.

Listening to Don't Leave me this way by -Thelma Houston or My Sweet Summer Suite by Love Unlimited ;songs I had never heard before; or seeing Two Tons of Fun, Sharon Redd and Sylvester performing was something I can't explain in words, seeing the artists you danced to sing their hits was unimaginable to me because their music was only in the clubs and had't reached mainstream radio yet.

The effects Bistro had on me.... I became a DJ... I now hold and collect everything from I feel love by Donna Summer (Disconet Remix Patrick Cowley), Barry White, Linda Clifford, Jackie, Moore, Crown Height Affair, Skatt Bros, Grace Jones, Garys Gang, Odessey ect...... to the current dance hits of today... its hard to beleive that since my 20's my live has been devoted to music through this one club that will always hold a place in my memories and in my heart. There slogan lives on! "There's no place like Bistro"

celebrityclub |

It was 1981 and I had grown up in the suburbs of chicago with no knowledge of the city or of being gay. Basically trips to state street for christmas when I was a kid and the occassional train into the city to purchase 12 in. albums was about the extent of my city life. But then I was taken to the bistro and life would never be the same. I can remember that night like it was yesterday. We actually snuck in underage. The only way to go. No bar in chicago has ever been able to rival the bistro in crowd and music. That was when I and most of my friends knew that being gay was the way. It was my oz/studio 54. To this day I still tell people about the bistro and how much fun it was.


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