"The If Club"

The If Club was a lesbian nightclub established in the 1940s. It was popular among working-class lesbians and had a reputation as a space for butch lesbians. The If Club was a primary distribution spot for the lesbian magazine, Vice Versa, written and published by Lisa Ben.

The If Club was a lesbian nightclub established around 1947, and is remembered as the earliest known lesbian bar. It was located at 8th and Vermont (present-day Koreatown) and was popular among working-class lesbians (Faderman 89). It notably catered to white, black, and Latina clientele equally. The If Club, also referred to at times as The If Café, became a regular meeting point for the working-class butch lesbian community of Los Angeles, providing space within its walls for butch lesbians to experiment with styles and slang unique to their identities.

The If Club was one of the primary distribution spots for the late-1940s lesbian magazine, Vice Versa. It was produced by Lisa Ben and distributed by hand amongst Ben’s friends and at locations like the If Club, one of only a few places where lesbians gathered during this era. Another location, The Open Door, was located across the street and welcomed a similar butch, working-class, mixed-race crowd to the point where the two were often grouped in guides of the city such as A People's Guide to Los Angeles and the 1966 Barfly gay guide. The description for The If Club in Barfly read: "Crowd of butch girls, men in 40s, others from area," and for The Open Door: "Same crowd as at If Cafe". 

While lesbian bars were generally less likely to be targets of police raids than gay bars, there were still risks associated with these spaces. The police would still harass lesbians and look for reasons to arrest them, leaving the community found within these spaces precarious and uncertain (Faderman 93). Such harrassment only increased throughout the 1950s, with many lesbian patrons of If Club being arrested on charges of prostitution or "masquerading" — essentially, wearing men's clothing. 


Faderman, Lillian. Gay L.A: a History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, and Lipstick Lesbians. New York: Basic Books, 2006.

The Lavender Baedeker 64 V.1 no.2, IN Guide 1966

The Timely Gay Bar Guide 1970