We’re seeing a rise in lesbian bars in the West and East Coasts in America, and NYC is no exception. The Bush in Bushwick, Brooklyn was founded by Jenille Nikke Alleyne and Justine LaViolette. The pair have been friends for 10 years and have been dreaming up The Bush for six of those years.
On opening night, April 14th, 2023, The Bush drew in an immense crowd, with a line down the block of people excitedly waiting to get in. It continues to bring in a great number of queer people.
Importance of Community
Lesbian and queer spaces are needed for so many reasons. Justine and Jenille spoke about those spaces allowing for “the ease of being around people that are on the same page.” Justine also mentions that “being able to cruise is really important.” They wanted a place where queer people have the opportunity to respectfully flirt without fear of hate or violence, and with the knowledge that it’s a generally queer space.
Justine also talks about the importance of “connecting in a way where it’s about friends and building relationships.” Justine is excited to see what friendships, projects, and more can come out of a space like The Bush.
“I think it’s just a lot easier to connect when you have a bigger understanding of, we’re both here, we’re both aligned with what this space represents, and so we have this base to build from.”
The Bush Vision
This bar is a “labor of love,” says Justine. They first wanted to open The Bush “because it was around the time when a lot of our spaces had disappeared.” Lesbian bars were closing down around the country, and Justine and Jenille recognized the importance of them. They wanted to open one close by where they could cultivate a queer community space.
Justine also mentions the want of having a space where they could have a cocktail, so The Bush offers a variety of specialty cocktails, including the Pillow Prince (Bourbon, Cynar, Sweet Vermouth, and Fresh Lemon Juice, served on the rocks), the Island They (Rum, Hibiscus, Lime, Ginger Beer, Bitters, and Mint), and the Basic Bish (Vodka, Cold Brew, PSL Simple Syrup (Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Clove), and Egg White).
There’s a lovely, spacious seating area in front of the bar where you can sit, have conversation, and enjoy your cocktail.
Justine and Jenille are also talking to others who want to open a queer bar because they say that “a huge part of the process for us was just figuring out where to begin.” They hope to be able to make this information more accessible and help other queer people who want to make their own space.
The Bush was also created to help give queer events a queer place to host in. “There are so many incredible events that are here that have to be held in straight spaces. And we wanted to give them a home because these events are so special….it can be hard when they’re in a straight space to keep that special feeling and keep everyone feeling comfortable and safe. There’s something different about being able to collaborate with other queer people versus having to explain for a straight audience,” says Justine.
They have an amazing events calendar in the works, including some already established events like The Bush party on the first Saturday of the month, and special nights like Martini Tuesdays and Mimosa Sundays.
The bar includes a dance floor with a DJ in the back, where people can dance the night away.
If you find yourself looking for a fun, welcoming queer space in Bushwick, spend a night at The Bush.