History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Wisconsin - Businesses - Bars and Clubs

Bourbon Beat
Location: 400 N. Plankinton Ave., Milwaukee WI



Male/ female
Bar, Dancing



The Bourbon Beat is listed in several national 'Gay Bar Guides' from 1963 to 1966. Research has determined that the bar had previously been known as Black Nite, once a fairly openly 'gay' bar. But the Black Nite's reputation had been marred by an incident in 1961, so a new name was mandated by the Milwaukee Common Council in order to keep its liquor license. That 'incident' was Milwaukee's version of 'Stonewall', eight years before that more famous New York City incident. (See the Black Nite page for details.)

After successfully relaunching the controversial Black Nite as the "Bourbon Beat", operator Wally Whetham moved his bar to the nearby corner of 2nd Street and Florida, and opened the "Captain's Cabin" at 400 N. 2nd St.

Meanwhile, the building at 400 N. Plankinton was torn down in 1966 for the extension of St. Paul Avenue.

More information about this business is welcomed from anyone who can contribute it.


Listings in early "Gay Guides":
(For more information on the Guides, click here.)

1963, Lavendar Baedeker
  History of the Baedeker Guides   Index
1964, "Directory 43"
  Title Page   Introduction
1964 Lavender Baedeker Guide
  History of Baedeker Guides
1965 International Guild Guide
  Title pg   Editor's note   Codes
1966 Bob Damron's Address Book
    Publisher note
1966 International Guild Guide
    Title pg   Editors note
1966 Lavender Baedeker Guide
    Back page
1966 Male World Guide
    Index, excerpt

View of the Bourbon Beat bar
(far right of photo by STOP sign)

View of the area when the bar was the
"Black Nite" (corner bar to far right)

Close up of the Black Nite

Credits: contents, design and arrangement by Don Schwamb.
National gay guide research by Don Schwamb.
Historical research and references by Michail Takach.
Last updated: February-2024.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.