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CLUB SCENE

A Place of Their Own

March 10, 1995|MAKI BECKER

It's girls' night out every night at Club 22, a bar, lounge and dance club for gay women in North Hollywood.

Owner Nancy Kesterson established the club almost 10 years ago after years of running a "straight bar," she said. Club 22 draws a full spectrum of women who love women: pool sharks in sheer black blouses, cowgirls, chicly dressed femmes and full-on grungers.

Weekdays feature happy hour with some live entertainment later in the evening: blues or rock in the style of Melissa Etheridge and Allanah Myles. But on the weekend there's recorded salsa and techno, and live jazz.

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THE SCENE: The club is equipped with the usual bar paraphernalia: dartboard, pool table, good-size dance floor with disco ball, but also a secluded patio out back, perfect for a balmy evening spent listening to jazz and knocking back a few drinks with the "grrls."

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THE CROWD: Amid the dancing, the tiffs over games of pool and the flirting at the bar, there is an underlying feeling of comfort at Club 22, one of the very few hangouts for gay women in the San Fernando Valley. Here, gay women can be themselves, listen to the music that speaks to them, even slow-dance with their lovers without scrutiny or fear. (An especially intimidating bouncer has been standing guard at the entrance for 9 1/2 years.) Kesterson said that many of Club 22's patrons are closeted except when they are at the club.

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THE MUSIC: The weekend gets going with DJ Gaye Ann for salsa night, attracting a crowd made up mostly of Latinas. Saturday night gets bumping with hip-hop, Top 40 techno, disco and other contagiously danceable music spun by DJ Felicia. Naturally, she has an excellent extended version of Sister Sledge's "We Are Family"--"I've got all my sisters with me . . ."--as well as an 11-minute Prince medley that is relentlessly fun to groove to. Kesterson's policy with the music played is "no rap and nothing that degrades women." A live jazz performance on Sundays helps patrons wind down for the coming week.

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WARNING: Club 22 is not for looky-loo straight guys. Men are welcome, but only those who respect the lifestyles of lesbian women.

Club 22, 4882 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. Hours: 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday to Friday, 3 p.m to 2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Happy hour: 4 to 7 p.m. Monday to Thursday. Admission is $5 after 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday only. Information: (818) 760-9792.

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