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

Jo'Dee's International
Location: 2139 Racine St. (Highway 32 South), Racine WI


February 1972
May 2014

Male/ Female
Bar/ social


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JoDees was a fixture in Wisconsin's gay/lesbian bar scene for nearly as long as any other LGBT bar, starting at least in 1972. It was a Racine and southeastern Wisconsin tradition as well, continuing to attract a healthy and diverse business (both gay men and lesbian women) year after year.

Advertising for Jodee's Club first appears in the February 1972 issue of the GPU News. In the August 1973 issue of GPU News, an ad appears advertising "The New Jo Dee's, Racine's Gayest Club, under new management". (Note the subtle change in spelling of the name.)

By 2006 JoDees was in 3rd place for the longest continuously open gay bar in the state, still with the same owner (Judy). Only This Is It (Milwaukee, opened 1968, and still operated by the original owner's son) and BallGame (Milwaukee, opened 1971, and still owned by one of the two original owners) were open longer. BallGame closed in 2012, leaving JoDees and This Is It alone.

The winter of 2013-2014 was brutal, with extreme low temperatures and snow. Meanwhile, virtually all LGBT bars were struggling to remain relevant and keep their business model alive. According to a contributor, as of Friday May 16 2014, Jo dee`s in Racine Wi was closed permanently. (They reportedly lost their liquor license and owed a large electric bill from the long cold winter, although this is unverified.) A sorry ending to a fun place.

(GPU News, Feb. 1972)
Advertisement, "New Jo Dees", 1973
(GPU News, Aug. 1973)
Photo: Judy, owner, bartending
(In Step Vol. 1-07, May 1984)
Advertisement, May 1992

Front of bar, July 2006

Interior of bar, circa 1965
(don't believe the bar was gay at this time)

Interior of bar, circa 1973

Advertisement, Feb. 1980

Credits: contents, design and arrangement by Don Schwamb.
Last updated: August-2023.

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