Phase 1

Considered the oldest continuously operating lesbian bar in the city, and one of the oldest in the entire United States, Phase One has been serving the lesbian community since it opened its doors in February 1970. Owners Chris Jansen and Allen Carroll wanted their bar to be a gathering place for the lesbian community, offering women dance floors, pool tables, and light meals. To foster a sense of lesbian inclusiveness, Phase One at times initiated a controversial policy of “All Males must have a Female Escort.”

Located within Barracks Row, near Washington Navy Yard and the Marine Barracks, Phase 1 often found itself in a tense relationship with its neighbors, particularly marines temporarily stationed in Washington. In October 1979, a homophobic marine allegedly threw a tear gas bomb into the bar, spurring protests by the lesbian and gay community that reached Mayor Marion Barry’s office.1

One long time patron recalls that, over the past four decades, Phase one “was the only place lesbians could go. And for many years after that, it was the preferred choice because gay men in this city (god love ya!) are notoriously territorial. So we forgive the bar for its shortcomings because it is something that belongs to our [lesbian] community.”2


1. Thomas Morgan, “The Battle of Capitol Hill: Gays vs. the Leathernecks: The Battle of Capitol Hill: Gays vs. Leathernecks,” Washington Post↩

2. Washington DC: Phase 1: A Love Story