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

Location: 121 West Main Place, Madison


March 1997
October 1997

Men/ Women


Scandals bar was opened by Mike and Nancy Newman. The bar came about when the license holder of the previous LGBT bar there, "R Place, (Mike's son Danny Newman) left Madison. (Madison requires liquor license holders to reside within the city.) The full situation is described in a story in Wisconsin Light newspaper (see below). (Rumors at the time were that Danny had skipped town with cash, and thus the bar would be reborn as a result of a scandal. Good story, but the truth is somewhat different as the article explains.)

Scandals bar opened on March 1, 1997, with a 'Z & L Productions' show. The 'Steppin Out' column in 'In Step' magazine observed "Scandals will definitely be a great place to party". It didn't hurt that the location was two doors away from Madison's popular LGBT bar, the Shamrock Bar & Grille!

The bar was listed in the 'Quest magazine' Guide from issue 4-02 to 4-17, reading "features backroom dancefloor, fireplace and hot crowd".

Understandably though, the parents of the owner of the previous bar, R Place, were not keen on operating a 'gay' bar that their son had abandoned and left in their care. A notice appeared in October 1997 that owners Mike and Nancy handed over the keys to Kirby Sheldon and the place would be called Kirby's Klub.

Scandals was thus just the second in a long line of names for an LGBT bar in this location (121 W. Main Street, Madison) over a period of just 4 years:

  • R Place (May-December 1996)
  • Scandals (March-October 1997)
  • Kirby's Klub (October 1997-July 1999)
  • Millenium (July-August 1999)
  • Rainbow Room (August 1999-July 2003)

Any additional information is available from anyone willing to contribute it.

Article describing how R Place became Scandals
(Wis. Light vol.10-03, Jan. 1997)
Article of liquor license approval
(In Step vol.14-04, Feb. 1997)
Photo from Grand Opening party
(In Step vol.14-06, March 1997)
Photo from Opening Day show, and
'Steppin Out' column entry
(In Step vol.14-06, March 1997)

Mention of a Lights Out party, and
Listing in Bar Guide showing same location as Shamrock
(which was two doors away)
(Note also the "1" location on the map was the site of the Hotel Washington, burned down the previous February)
(In Step vol.14-09, May 1997)
Pride Weekend events showing
Madison's 4 LGBT bars
(In Step vol.14-11, May 1997)

Grand Opening advertisement
(Jerry Johnson/ Wis. Light collection)


Notice of ownership change and new name
(In Step vol.14-22, Oct. 1997)


Credits: web site concept, design and contents by Don Schwamb.
Last updated: September, 2022.

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