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.
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.
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